Saturday, December 17, 2011

Neti Pot Use Linked To Brain Eating Amoeba Deaths

During cold, flu and allergy seasons, many will look for a more natural way of alleviating sinus problems.  Neti Pots, those Genie-lantern shaped contraptions made hugely popular by Dr. Mehmet Oz on the Oprah Winfrey Show, are one way people find relief.  Nasal irrigation has been around for centuries, originating as an ancient Ayurvedic treatment to clear out the nasal and sinus passages. Using a warm saltwater solution with purified or distilled water, you fill the neti pot and then

....hold it in the left hand. Bring the spout into the left nostril, lean over a sink, and as the head is tilted to the right side, tip the pot up to get the water to flow. Breathe through the mouth.

The aim is to get water to flow into the left nostril, around the area inside the nose and sinuses, and out the right nostril. Do this for 15 to 30 seconds, then change sides. It might take a couple of tries to get the right alignment.

People swear by it. But, as with most things you introduce into your body, you need to research and follow directions thoroughly.  Neti pot instructions state you are not to use tap water, only purified or distilled.  Tragically, two deaths in Louisiana have been potentially linked to the use of tap water in neti pots.   Apparently two people in Louisiana, a young man (20) and an older woman (51), have died from Naegleria fowleri, otherwise known as the "brain-eating amoeba".  As a result, Louisiana state's health department has warned neti pot users about the dangers of using tap water to irrigate their nostrils.

Dr Raoult Ratard, Louisiana State Epidemiologist, said: 'If you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, for example, by using a neti pot, use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution.

'Tap water is safe for drinking, but not for irrigating your nose.'

He added that it is important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.

So it's not the actual neti pot itself that poses a danger, but the way in which it is used that can cause problems. It is believed that the two victims used plain tap water in their devices, rather than the recommended purified water, which is how the amoebas entered the brain.  The amoeba, which causes a rare disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAME), migrates to the brain through the nasal passages and eats away at the brain tissue.  Once infected, the patient usually dies within days. 

Normally found in warm freshwater rivers, waterholes and lakes, this would be the first instance of Naegleria Fowleri amoeba showing up in tap water, and the CDC is still trying to determine if the two Louisiana deaths were connected to tap water usage or not.


Jeremiah said...

Remember in most cases it’s not the pot… You must choose the water wisely! Just wrote a few tips to Neti Pot use and safety:

Incognito said...

Thank you Jeremiah, that's exactly what I mention in my post.