Tag Archives: nasal irrigation

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.

Clearing Baby’s Stuffy Nose Without a Nasal Aspirator

Baby Selene has been really stuffed up with a cold recently. We had 3 nearly sleepless nights because she kept waking up struggling to breathe due to congestion. Babies, if you don’t know, are considered to be obligate nasal breathers, which means they can only breathe through their noses. Heavy congestion is really uncomfortable for them.

We’d been doing as many parents do, dropping in a couple of saline drops to soften the mucus, then suctioning it out with the aspirator. It works, but made her scream and even gave her a bloody nose one time, poor thing.

Finally, I took her to the doctor last Friday to make sure that the congestion was the only problem we were dealing with. Didn’t want to find out that there was something more going on over the weekend after all. He confirmed that it was indeed all just heavy congestion, and told me a kinder way to clear her nose.

It’s really simple too, so I thought I would share.

You still need the saline drops. In fact, you put in more of those than you would for using the aspirator, and you do both nostrils at once, as I understand it. This is uncomfortable for baby, but only lasts a moment.

As soon as all the drops are over, flip baby onto her tummy, and start gently wiggling her bottom. This will gently move the head too, and the saline and loosened mucus will start coming out on their own.

I advise doing this over a burp cloth or something else you can throw into the wash easily.

We don’t get gobs out this way or anything, but it is so much gentler than the aspirator and sometimes a decent amount of mucus does clear out. Far fewer screams and a much happier baby.

You can do it as often as necessary, as the saline solution is very safe. Just be sure you drop the saline in, not spray it, even though most can do both. The spray is too high a pressure for babies.

I figure this is not too different from using nasal irrigation on myself, which I swear by for colds. Somewhat odd feeling, but it really does the job. Makes sense to me that it helps babies too, even if you can’t go so far as to use a Neti pot on a baby.