You may remember reading how to use a Neti pot for MRSA sinus infection control here on my blog in November. Since then, some important concerns have been raised about Neti pot safety that you should be aware of.
Using a Neti pot for sinus irrigation is still very safe and can be very helpful for Staph and MRSA in the sinuses. However, there are new precautions you can take to prevent a rare yet easily preventable amoeba infection.
Rinse solution precautions
Most people use tap water to make the rinse solutions for their Neti pots. While tap water is safe to drink, using distilled, filtered or boiled water is a better idea for your Neti pot.
On December 19th, NPR reported that two people in Louisiana died from encephalitis caused by an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. Both people also used neti pots with tap water. These are the only known deaths connected to use of the Neti pot. The cause of the infection was likely tap water contaminated with the amoeba.
Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in lakes and streams, and this amoeba can sometimes be found in tap water. While infections are exceedingly rare, this amoeba can enter the body through the nose and lead to a dangerous infection in the brain. These infections more commonly happen from splashing, jumping and diving in warm, stagnant water.
Sinus irrigation precautions
Most Neti pots come with instructions on how to use them safely and properly. It’s also a good idea to talk with your doctor about using the Neti pot with your particular needs in mind. While getting infected with Naegleria fowleri is highly unlikely, there are a few simple precautions you can take to protect yourself:
- Use warmed distilled, filtered or boiled water only to make the rinse solution.
- Clean and scrub the Neti pot with warm soapy water after each use. If your Neti pot is dishwasher safe, a dishwasher may be used.
- Allow the Neti pot to dry completely after washing because the amoebas cannot live long on dry surfaces.
- Rinse your sinuses once or twice per day at most. Many people have good results with 2 or 3 rinses per week.
- Start slowly. Irritation and stinging are common when starting out. Reducing the amount of salt, using the Neti pot less often, or changing the temperature of the rinse solution often reduce any stinging or irritation.
To your best health,
Microbiologist and Natural Health Expert