Dr Russ Blog - To Neti or Not?
To Neti or Not?
Created on 12/21/2011
5-10 years ago if you had asked someone about a neti pot they likely would not have known what you were talking about. Nowadays, however, the modest neti pot has a loyal following.
And for good reason.
The neti pot has been used in traditional forms of healthcare, such as Ayurveda, for millenia specifically to help cleanse the nasal passages of debris and inflammatory material. In turn, the procedure appears to help many people manage allergy symptoms and sinus congestion.
The "instruction manual" associated with using a neti pot is very brief - one tilts the head sideways over a sink, compresses the lower nostril while gently pouring saline solution into the upper nostril. Some add a very soft, gentle sniff during the procedure. The fluid runs out the mouth and nose, and then the other side is irrigated. Sounds nasty, but it can be effective.
Here's the rub - two people in Louisiana recently died after using their neti pots. They had used tap water and the water contained an amoebic organism called Naegleria fowleri that is not typically a problem if swallowed, but that can cause big time problems if it gets near the brain - and that's what happened to these 2 unfortunate people.
The upper part of the nose is actually very, very close to the brain.
Should you stop using your neti pot?
Not solely on the basis of these recent sad events - you should, however, avoid using tap water in your neti pot for irrigating your sinuses.
Instead, be sure to use previously boiled, sterile or distilled water (to which you can add a very small amount of salt to creat saline solution, typically on the order of 1/4 teaspoon of salt added to one cup of liquid).
The amoebic infection the people came down with is very rare. Nonetheless, it is imperative to lessen the risk of such a dangerous illness, and the way to do that, at least as relates to irrigating one's nasal passages with a neti pot, is to avoid using tap water.
Use of neti pot = use of sterile or previously boiled or distilled water
Be safe, be well, and have a joyous holiday season.
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **
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