OMG!: Neti Pots Can Kill You

neti pot
A woman demonstrates using a neti pot on The Oprah Show.

It’s not often we talk about nasal irrigation here at Strollerderby, but this is definitely some health news you can use: Do not use water straight out of the tap when clearing your sinuses with a neti pot.

Two people in Louisiana were recently killed by brain-eating amoeba — no, we’re not making this up — after having used their neti pots.  According to a story on MSNBC, “Both victims are believed to have filled their neti pots with tap water instead of manufacturer-recommended distilled or sterilized water. When they used these pots to force the water up their noses and flush out their sinus cavities — a treatment for colds and hay fever — a deadly amoeba living in the tap water, called Naegleria fowleri, worked its way from their sinuses into their brains.”  This parasite apparently causes an illness that kills sufferers in a matter of days.

I’ve used a neti pot before, and I had no idea you were supposed to use distilled water.  I’ve always used water out of the tap.  I realize this isn’t a massive epidemic and we all don’t need to freak out, but still.  Those poor people in Louisiana!

Neti pots became the rage over the last few years thanks to Dr. Oz, formerly of the Oprah Show and now with his own talk show. He promoted the effectiveness of neti pots for people with allergies and sinusitis, and a star was born.

There are very simple steps you can take to make sure you are properly using your neti pot.  The New York Daily News says to always clean it after use, use only distilled water, and replace the pot every few months with a new one. Take that, brain-eating amoeba.