Have you ever tried a neti pot?

MedioImages/Photodisc/Thinkstock

I recently had some trouble with my ears, and the thing that ended up helping me was a totally natural, do-if-myself trick using salt and water—an encouraging result when the two storebought medicines that my doctor had promised would work both failed.

My ears kept feeling like I'd just gotten out of a pool, or off of an airplane—the feeling of water in my ear or unrelieved pressure. Except I'd done neither of those things. And it was frustrating because it would interfere with conversation—I'd feel kind of like the woman in the picture.

I finally went to the doctor when I started to think it might be an infection. But he saw nothing—no infection, no wax buildup, and said it was probably fluid in my middle or inner ear. Thought I might have allergies. He told me to take a decongestant for 5-10 days. I asked if he had a plan B—of course, try Zyrtec, an antihistamine, if the decongestant doesn't work.

I did both, and no progress. I called back and, not wanting to call the ear specialist he recommended, I consulted the internet again. A neti pot turned out to be my miracle cure.

All the neti pot is is a tool for nasal irrigation, and essentially thins out mucus to help flush it out of the nasal passages. Before trying it, I mentioned it to two friends, both of whom took me by surprise when they said they use the nasal irrigation technique regularly at the first sign of a cold or all throughout allergy season.

Its use is on the rise, and for any skeptics out there, even western research has backed up claims that neti pots can alleviate congestion, facial pain and pressure, and reduce the need for antibiotics and nasal sprays.