Are Neti Pots Still Safe to Use?

I’m rather fond of nasal irrigation, although I don’t use an actual Neti Pot to do so. But in 2011, two people died due to an infection of Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba which enters through the nose and causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, resulting in death. The infections came from misusing their Neti pots.

The mistake was simple enough, and that’s what I want to mention. They didn’t use distilled, filtered or boiled water. They used plain tap water, which should usually be safe, but clearly is not always.

Fortunately, the solution is simple. Keep your nasal irrigation practices safe. I’m not a doctor or anything like it, so check on this yourself, but if you do nasal irrigation, make sure you stick with boiled, sterile or distilled water, and keep your Neti pot clean and dry when not in use.  That’s what the official warning says, anyhow.

Boiled water from your tap is probably the cheapest option, but considering how long it takes to cool, it may not be the most convenient. Not that it’s terribly inconvenient, but when your nose is congested and you’re miserable, waiting for water to boil, then cooling it is not always going to be welcome.

These deaths won’t impact my use of nasal irrigation at all. It has been far more effective for me than taking a decongestant, not to mention I avoid the misery of swallowing a pill. I know that’s not a big deal for most, but that’s one skill I’ve never mastered, and trying tends to lead to vomiting for me, so I’m not exactly interested in learning how.