Be careful neti-pot users. This popular home remedy for colds, stuffy noses and hay fever should always be practiced safely: Two people have died from infection as a result of using a neti pot incorrectly.
These deaths were caused by infection with “brain eating amoebas” after using a neti pot incorrectly. The victims, both residents of Louisiana, are believed to have used tap water when using the neti pot rather than the manufacturer-recommended sterilized or distilled water. The deadly amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, entered the sinuses during use and worked its way to the brain. The victims’ brains were then infected with a neurological disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a disease that tears apart neural tissue and causes death within a few days.
The brain-eating amoeba is typically found in untreated lakes, rivers and ponds, especially in southern states. The disease is typically contracted while swimming or jumping into these water sources and snorting water up into the nose. The amoeba’s presence in treated drinking water is unusual.
While using a neti pot is a great way to relieve sinus pressure and hay fever,
it's important to always follow the instructions carefully.
Photo by Bob Kieffer/Courtesy Flickr
Experts insist the neti pot is still a safe, effective way to irrigate your sinuses—if used correctly. It’s important to use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water, rather than tap water, when using a neti pot. In addition, each neti pot should come with salt packets to help further sterilize the water. After each use, it’s important to clean and dry the neti pot to avoid future infection or disease.
For more information on this ancient home remedy, including step-by-step instructions, check out Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa’s article, “Spring Cleaning for Your Nose” or click here for a tutorial video.