For any of those die-hard Neti Pot fans out there (um, Eric, that means you), beware: using tap water with the sinus cleaning device is unsafe.
Last week, a 51-year-old woman in Louisiana died from an infection after using her Neti Pot with tap water that contained a brain-eating amoeba. The microbe, called Naegleria fowleri, the lives in warm freshwater environments like lakes, rivers and springs and causes an infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue. This is the second case of a Neti Pot user dying from the amoeba in the last year. In June, a 20-year-old man who also used the sinus cleaner with contaminated tap water passed away.
While the deaths are frightening and shocking, it’s worth noting that this particular type of infection is rare — and it’s even rarer to get it from H2O from your faucet. (Typically, the disease is contracted by swimming or diving in warm freshwater that is contaminated.)
Dr. Raoult Ratard, the Louisiana State Epidemiologist, told the Associated Press that tap water is safe for drinking, but not for irrigating your nose. He went on to say that if you are rinsing or flushing your sinuses with a device like a Neti Pot, you should be using “distilled, sterile or previously boiled water with the irrigation solution.”
As semi-religious users of sinus cleaning, we’re taking Dr. Ratard’s suggestions seriously. No more slacking off by using tap water for us — just filtered or boiled water from here on out.
Are you a Neti Pot lover? Are you good about only using filtered, boiled, or sterile water?
For more articles on staying healthy and well, check out these other Birchbox posts.