Neti pots, the nasal and sinus irrigation tools that have gained popularity in alternative health circles as a way to naturally clear the sinuses, have gotten national attention over the past two days. Why? Well, of course it’s not anything good, or else they would not have made the national headlines!
Neti pots are tiny little “teapot” like vessels that can be used to help steam and cleanse the sinuses of debris and congestion. The user puts the spout up their nose and they then should experience a feeling of cleansing and flushing of the sinuses and the nose.
One of the things that the user absolutely needs to abide by when using these devices is to use only clean, distilled water. If they do not, they risk infection from unclean water with bacteria and a deadly but rare amoeba that can cause an infection in the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.
This “brain eating” amoeba has stricken fear into parents because it first gained attention when a string of children died from the parasite after swimming in lakes. The thing is, the amoeba is harmless when it is ingested via the mouth and goes through the digestive tract.
It is only dangerous when it goes up your nose. Through the nose, it can enter the brain, and this is where it does its damage. This is what happened to two Louisiana residents lately that made national news. They used neti pots, but they used regular warm tap water, which happened to be infected with this amoeba.
Because the neti pot gets the water right up in the nose, the amoeba seemingly easily traveled to the brain and ended up killing the victims. Truly tragic. For this reason, neti pot users are once again warned to absolutely not use normal water that has not been distilled.
The amoeba typically results in death of the victim because it causes such severe brain damage in such a short amount of time. The symptoms are similar to bacterial meningitis, which includes nausea, vomiting, mental fog and confusion and flu like symptoms.
The amoeba typically inhabits warm freshwater, and therefore many times is found in warmer southern states in freshwater lakes, so use caution when swimming in these bodies of water.