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wikiHow to Make Saline Nasal Spray

Three Methods:Making a Saline SolutionUsing the Saline Nasal SprayUnderstanding the Causes
of Nasal CongestionCommunity Q&A

Nasal congestion (stuffy nose) is a common condition in which nasal tissues swell with fluids. It
may be accompanied by sinus congestion and nasal discharge (runny nose). Luckily, a saline
(salt water) nasal spray can get you through nasal congestion from cold or allergies. You can
easily make your own saline nasal sprays at home for use on adults, children, or even infants.

Method 1

Making a Saline Solution


Gather your materials. Making a saline solution is simple because all you need is salt
and water![1] Sea salt or table salt are both acceptable for a saline solution, but use a non-
iodized salt (pickling or kosher) if you have an iodine allergy. To administer the solution
nasally, you'll also need a small spray bottle. One that holds one to two ounces is ideal.

o Infants and small children aren't able to blow their noses effectively. Get a soft,
rubber-bulb syringe to remove nasal secretions gently and efficiently.

Make the saline solution. There's more to making saline that just mixing salt and water.
For the salt to effectively dissolve into the water, you must raise the water temperature.
Boiling the water will also kill off any potentially dangerous microbes living in the tap
water. Boil 8 oz. of water, then allow it to cool until just "very warm." Add teaspoon of
salt and mix well until the salt dissolves. The teaspoon of salt will make a saline
solution that matches the amount of salt in your body (isotonic).

o You may want to try a salt spray that has a greater concentration of salt than your
body (hypertonic). This is useful for significant congestion with a lot of discharge.
If you're having trouble breathing or clearing your nose, consider a hypertonic

o To do this, simply add 1/2 teaspoon of salt instead of 1/4 teaspoon.

o Dont use a hypertonic solution for infants or small children younger than five
years old.

Consider adding baking soda (optional). A half teaspoon of baking soda will adjust the
pH of the solution. This makes it less likely to sting a sore nose, especially with
hypertonic solutions with a higher salt content. Add it while the water is still warm, and
mix well to dissolve the baking soda.

o You can add the salt and the baking soda all at once, but adding the salt first
usually results in easier mixing.

Fill your spray bottle and store the remaining solution.[3] Once the solution has cooled
to room temperature, it's ready to use. Fill the one to two ounce spray bottle with the
solution, then pour the rest into a covered container and refrigerate it. After two days,
throw out any unused solution and make a new batch if necessary.

Method 2

Using the Saline Nasal Spray


Use the nasal solution whenever you feel congested. The small bottle will make it easy
to carry around in your pocket or purse. The nasal spray should loosen up the nasal
secretions blocking up your nose. Blow your nose after using the nasal spray to remove
the blockage.

o Lean forward and angle the spray nozzle into the nostril, toward the ear.[4]

o Spray one or two squirts into each nostril. Use your left hand for your right
nostril, and your right hand for your left nostril.
o Sniff gently to keep the saline solution from dripping right out of your nose. Make
sure not to snort it back into your throat, though, as this may cause irritation in
your septum.


Consider using a bulb syringe to administer nasal spray to babies and small
children. Squeeze out about half the air in the bulb and draw up the salt solution into the
bulb. Tilt the child's head back slightly and hover the tip of the bulb over one nostril.
Drop three to four drops of the solution into each nostril, avoiding touching the inside of
the nostril with the tip as best you can (it can be hard to do this with a wiggling baby!).
Try to keep the child's head still for two to three minutes while the solution goes to work.

Suction childrens nasal secretions with the bulb syringe.[5] Administer the nasal spray
just as you would for an adult, then wait two to three minutes to let it work. After that,
you can use the rubber-bulb syringe to gently remove secretions from the child's nose.
Use a soft tissue to gently wipe away any secretions that remain around the nostrils.
Remember to use a new tissue on each nostril, and make sure to wash your hands before
and after each treatment.

o Tilt the child's head back slightly.

o Press on the bulb to remove about 1/4 of the air from it, then gently insert the tip
into the nostril. Release the bulb to suction nasal secretions into the rubber-bulb

o Do not insert the tip deep into the child's nose. You're only removing the material
in the front part of the nostril.
o Try to avoid touching the inside of the nostril, as it could be sensitive and sore
during illness.


Maintain proper hygiene after using the bulb syringe.[6][7] Wipe any secretions on the
outside of the syringe off with a tissue, and discard the tissue. Wash the rubber bulb
syringe in warm, soapy water immediately after you've finished using it. Suck soapy
water in and squeeze it back out several times. Repeat with clean, un-soapy water. Swirl
the water around inside the bulb to remove secretions from the walls.

Repeat this two to three times a day. You don't want to overdo it with the rubber bulb
syringe. Your child's nose is already sore and irritated. If you fiddle with it all the time,
the child will only feel more pain. At most, suction nasal secretions four times a day.[8]

o The best times to do this is before feeding or bed, to help your child breathe better
while eating and sleeping.

o If the child squirms too much, just relax and try again later. Remember to be very

Stay hydrated. The simplest way to improve nasal congestion is to keep your body
moisturized. This keeps the discharge thin and fluid, making it easier to blow your nose
or drain. The discharge may drain down the back of your throat. While this is unpleasant,
it's normal and healthy. Drinking hot tea or chicken soup may be especially helpful in
keeping you hydrated.

o Drink at least eight to ten 8 oz. glasses of water every day. Drink even more if you
have a fever, or if your illness causes vomiting or diarrhea.[9]

Be gentle in blowing and clearing your nose. To prevent the skin of your nose from
drying too much, use Vaseline or a hypoallergenic skin lotion or cream. Apply it to a Q-
tip and gently spread it around your nostrils as needed. You can also use a humidifier or
just place bowls of water throughout the house. The water will evaporate and humidify
the air. Rest and relax as much as possible!

Have a doctor examine infants and small children. For infants, nasal congestion can be
a serious problem. It can cause difficulty with both breathing and feeding. Call your
physician within 12-24 hours if the nasal spray does not help.

o Call your physician immediately if your infant or young child has nasal
congestion along with any fever, cough, trouble breathing, or trouble feeding due
to the congestion.

Method 3

Understanding the Causes of Nasal Congestion


Consider a wide range of possibilities. Nasal congestion can point to many different
causes. The most common causes are infections like cold, flu, and sinusitis and allergies.
Environmental irritants like chemicals or smoke can also cause congestion. Some people
have chronic runny nose a condition known as vasomotor rhinitis or VMR.[10]

Look for signs of viral infection. Viruses are difficult to treat because they live in the
body's cells and reproduce very quickly. Luckily, the most common viral infections are
cold and flu, which resolve on their own with time. Treatment is essentially about
managing the symptoms and staying as comfortable as possible. To prevent the flu, get an
annual vaccination before flu season begins.[11] The symptoms of cold and flu include:[12]

o Fever

o Runny or stuffy nose

o Clear, green, or yellow nasal discharge

o Sore throat

o Coughing and sneezing

o Fatigue

o Muscle aches and headaches

o Watery eyes

o The flu has additional symptoms: a higher fever (over 102 F or 39.9 C), nausea,
chills/sweats, and loss of appetite


Take antibiotics for bacterial infection.[13] Bacterial infections can have widely varying
symptoms, including fever. Most bacterial infections are diagnosed clinically or
occasionally by a nasal or throat culture. The doctor will be prescribe the antibiotic most
likely to treat the most common bacteria. The antibiotic will either kill the bacteria or
stop it from reproducing, allowing the immune system to fight the remaining infection.
o Always take the full course of antibiotic treatment, even if you feel better. If you
stop taking the treatment before the doctor recommends it, the infection may


Watch for symptoms of sinusitis.[14] Sinusitis is a condition in which the sinuses get
inflamed and swollen, causing mucus buildup. It can be caused by a cold, allergies, or
bacterial or fungal infections. Though it can be irritating, sinusitis can usually be treated
at home without medical intervention. More severe or persistent sinus infections are
usually treated with antibiotics. Symptoms include:

o Thick yellow or green nasal discharge, often found in the throat as well

o Nasal congestion

o Tenderness and swelling around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead
o Lowered ability to smell and taste

o Coughing


Determine whether your lights are too bright.[15] Bright lights are a fairly common
cause of nasal congestion. The eyes and nose are closely related, so stress on the eyes can
affect the nasal cavity as well. Try dimming the lights in your home or work environment
slightly to see if your nose clears up at all.

Get tested for allergies.[16] Your nasal congestion may be the result of an allergic reaction
you don't even know about. Make an appointment to get tested for allergies at your
doctor's office if you have chronic or severe nasal congestion, especially with itching or
sneezing, or think you may have allergies. The doctor will perform a test in which he
injects tiny amounts of common allergens into your skin. Only the patches of skin with
substances you're allergic to will swell up slightly, like a mosquito bite. This will allow
you to either seek treatment (oral or nasal medication, or even injections) or avoid those
allergens. The most common allergens include:

o Dust mites

o Foods: milk, gluten, soy, spices, shellfish, and food preservatives

o Pollen (Hay fever)

o Latex
o Mold

o Peanuts

o Pet dander


Remove irritants from your environment. Every single time you inhale and exhale,
you're dragging your external environment through your nose. If the air around you is the
source of your nasal irritation, you can take steps to change your environment. Common
irritants include:[17]

o Tobacco smoke

o Exhaust fumes
o Perfumes

o Dry air (buy a humidifier)

o Sudden changes in temperature


Ask your doctor about your medications. You may be taking a medication to treat a
condition that has nothing to do with your nose, but a side effect of that medication may
be causing your nasal congestion. Provide your doctor with a list of all prescription and
over the counter medications you're taking. If one of the drugs is causing your
congestion, the doctor may be able to suggest alternate treatment. Congestion commonly
arises from:

o High blood pressure medications[18]

o Overuse of decongestant nasal sprays

o Drug abuse


Consider any hormonal changes.[19] Hormones control many functions throughout the
body and can affect many different systems. Hormonal changes and disorders can have
an impact on your ability to drain your nasal passages normally. If you are pregnant, have
thyroid disorder, or in any way suspect hormonal changes, speak with your doctor. He or
she may be able to help you control your hormones and reduce the impact on your


Get examined for anatomical problems.[20] It may be that there are no infections,
medications, or hormonal fluctuations causing your congestion. It could just be the way
your nasal anatomy is constructed. Ask your general practitioner to refer you to a
specialist if you are unable to get your nasal congestion under control. A specialist will be
able to diagnose whether a physical abnormality is interfering with your breathing.
Common anatomical problems include:

o Deviated septum

o Nasal polyps

o Enlarged adenoids

o Foreign body in the nose

This is especially common in children. This often causes a thick nasal
discharge with a bad odor, and it is often only on one side of the nose.