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Neti Pots

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

I just saw the report about the folks dying from amoeba infections from their Neti pots (misreported in places as a "bacterial" infection). Since so many H&NC folks use them, I thought I'd summarize the safety precautions:

Use distilled or boiled water - I'd recommend buying the large jugs of steam-distilled water that have the little taps on them; these are most likely to stay sterile after you open them. Even if you don't fear amoeba from your tap water, distilled is a good idea, as you avoid putting chlorine up your nose (not to mention the mold that always seems to grow at the end of the tap).

Rinse the Neti pot well with hot water after use and air dry (in a sunny spot, if possible). If you live in a humid location and the pot doesn't dry completely between uses, I'd suggest you microwave it a minute or two after rinsing (assuming the pot is microwave-safe).

If you don't use the entire potful, empty it and wash the pot - don't leave it around to use the rest of the solution later. You don't want the bacteria from your nose to have a chance to breed and get stronger. . . (salt water does not kill bacteria - it can slow their growth, but that's not enough to count on.

I hope folks don't get hysterical - Neti pots are wonderful and lots of folks get relief from them.

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5927
Joined: Apr 2009

Thanks you may have just saved my life; I use NeilMed twice a day and have been having some very bad sinus problems and infections. One of be biggest problems I am having today is uncontrollable blood pressure I believe is from the infection.
I am going to make an appointment with my ENT Monday, also having a lot more headaches than normal.

Louisiana

Thanks you so much for posting
Hondo

Hal61's picture
Hal61
Posts: 656
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi Dr. Mary and Doug, thanks for the heads up--or head sligtly cocked. Your warning is all over the Internet, with news services scrambling to announce that "brain eating" amoebas are afoot. (We all know that amoebas don't really "eat" brains, only the undead do that.)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the neti pot, it's a venerable medical practice originating in India. I first came across one while watching an excellent TV series called "Six Feet Under" in which one of the characters used a neti pot. He swore by it, but he was later portrayed as patently insane--though that is in no way a knock against neti pot use.

A neti pot is indeed a small pot, the main part--pot part--being about the size of the palm of your hand. It can be mug shaped, tea pot shaped, or resemble something like Alladin's lamp. But, whatever the vessel shape, each has a long, often curved, narrowing spout, the end of which is sligthly larger than a nostril opening. A mild saline solution is prepared, using the precautions Dr. Mary has described, then:

"The person using the pot leans over a sink and pours the water into one nostril while breathing through the mouth. The water flows out the other nostril, and the process is repeated on the other side."

Point being to cleanse the nasal passages. Do any google search and you'll find lots of stuff, including the current warning.

Hal

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5927
Joined: Apr 2009

Thanks for the explanation, I use the other NeilMed the one with the bottle but it is the same thing. I will be just a little more of how you will say checking the water first, ha ha ha. Funny how the little things you don’t know can hurt you or worse kill you.

Two people here in Louisianan have already died from this.

Hondo

jim and i's picture
jim and i
Posts: 1683
Joined: May 2011

I use warm water out of the faucet, glad I saw this. Is regular distilled ok to use as the other stuff is expensive and hard to find in my local?

Debbie

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

and don't even play one on tv, so I'm not giving medical advice here, but I have found the generic "distilled" water (usually about $1-2 for the 2.5 gallon jugs with spigots) to never grow mold or get the bacteria smell - anything that can sit in a bottle on a shelf and not show signs of growing things (cloudiness, bulging, gas) should be OK. I've certainly never found amoeba in it (I've looked at plenty of it under the microscope). I don't think it qualifies as "sterile" as in the "sterile eye wash" stuff but we use it both bio and chem labs without issues.

Tap water should be safe enough to put up your nose and probably is so, right out of your water treatment facility. However, cracks in pipes and stuff that grows in the 2-3 inches of pipe right before the water comes out of the tap means your water picks up stuff. Stick a q-tip up your faucet and look at it; likely you will never want to put tap water up your nose (much less drink it) again.

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