Instead of using synthetic medications to cure stuffy or runny noses, many people have began to use Neti pots to irrigate their sinuses. Although the popular remedy has been proven to be a cheap and side effect free way to clear out one’s sinuses, the water you use in it could cause you to lose your life.
There have been reports of at least two people who died from improper use of a Neti pot this year. Their deaths were caused by Naegleria fowleri, a so-called brain eating amoeba that entered through the nose. The amoeba causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue. In its early stages, the symptoms are similar to that of bacterial meningitis, which includes headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and stiff neck. As the disease progresses, confusion, imbalance, seizures and hallucinations can occur. Once the symptoms present themselves, death usually follows within 1 to 12 days.
Do not be alarmed though. The infection is very rare and not exclusive to using a Neti pot. Diving or swimming into warm freshwater lakes and rivers or when contaminated water enters through the nose can also cause it.
Experts say that the best way to prevent infection is to use distilled, boiled or sterile water to make up your irrigation solution. DO NOT USE TAP WATER UNLESS YOU BOIL IT FIRST. You should also rinse out your Neti pot after each use and leave it open to air dry.