A woman’s death from brain-eating amoeba after using a neti pot begs the question of whether nasal irrigation systems are safe to use. What do the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Food and Drug Administration say about neti pots?
Brain-Eating Amoeba Death
A recent report described the details of a woman’s death from brain-eating amoeba after using tap water on her neti pot. Although the report does not definitively state that the neti pot was the means by which the woman got infected, there have been some reports of contracting brain-eating amoeba by means of neti pots.
In response, CDC medical epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Copeland noted that while such infections are rare, they can and do happen, particularly due to the use of tap water in neti pots. As such, Dr. Copeland is urging people who use neti pots to not use tap water.
Neti Pot Safety
Neti pots have become increasingly common in homes to clear out clogged nasal passages or treat allergies and colds, but are they actually safe to use? The FDA warns that such nasal rinsing devices could increase the risk of infection if not used properly.
Firstly, it is important to only use the right type of water in neti pots: distilled or sterile water from stores, boiled and cooled tap water, water passed through filters that are designed to trap potentially harmful organisms, or even a saline solution.
The use of plain tap water or water that has not been adequately filtered is not safe because it may contain harmful bacteria. While they may be safe to swallow because the bacteria can die in stomach acids, they can continue to live in nasal passages and cause infections. Some illnesses may even be fatal.
Follow Instructions For Nasal Irrigation Systems
Another important thing to remember when using neti pots is to follow the specific instructions on how to use them and take care the device itself. When used properly, neti pots can help clear out mucus, allergens, dust, bacteria, and other debris.
However, it is also important to consult a health care provider before using any nasal irrigation system, particularly when one’s immune system is not working properly.