A Tale of Two Netis

Uh-oh. If you weren’t already losing sleep worried about chemicals and drugs in our water, hormone disruptors in our food containers, and arsenic in your rice, there’s a new danger on the horizon:

using the neti pot (2)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Joelk75

Death by Neti Pot

Incidentally, when I was still on Facebook, “death by neti pot” was a status update I used once.

Ok, backstory…

5 years ago when I had a sinus infection, my older sister urged me to try using a neti pot to kick it. It was the first time I had ever used one, and I didn’t know the small but important detail: that you need to add salt to the water. The experience was painful, and felt akin to that childhood phenomenon of near drowning in the summertime pool. I must say though, it did help me feel better and get over my sinus infection!

Seriously though. ABC News reported that a few people have died of a brain infection.

The culprit?

Brain-eating amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri found in the tap water used to fill the victim’s neti pots. Apparently the amoeba is no problem if you drink it, but using it in the sinuses is just too close to the brain. (Is the old wive’s tale true? If you pick your nose, can you stab your brain!?)

The amoeba can get a foothold in sensitive brain tissue and … well, it ain’t pretty folks.

The thing is: my husband used a neti pot on a daily basis, it was as much a part of his daily hygiene as brushing his teeth before bed. He has environmental/seasonal allergies and also works with some pretty potent chemicals (as well as stirring up lots of dust) in his line of work. So he relies on the neti pot to clean and unclog his sinuses and restore normal breathing.

And he didn’t know this until he married me, but the neti pot also prevented him from snoring. (I could tell a definite difference on the nights when he skipped his neti routine.)

When he found out about the deaths, he freaked a little and stopped using his neti pot.

Unfortunately for me, the snoring kicked into high gear just as I was in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy (and already not sleeping soundly!).  What’s worse, I noticed that the snoring was getting worse and he was having periods of sleep apnea – it was scary to hear him stop breathing for several seconds at a time, only to gasp and struggle to catch his breath. He was tired in the mornings and struggling to get up early. I was also concerned about the long term health ramifications of sleep apnea, which are pretty serious.

A Better Neti Pot

During this time I got an email about the Ocean Complete Sinus Rinse. It’s an easy to use, sterile nasal irrigator and nasal moisturizer (and here’s the important part) that doesn’t require tap water. 

Sure, you could take the time to boil and sterilize, then cool tap water for your neti pot. Or you could buy expensive distilled water. But this system is easier.

Another thing about neti pots? We’ve broken TWO of them in less than a year when we bumped into them in the bathroom (they’re generally ceramic, which doesn’t work well with hard bathroom flooring. Oops!).

Hubby is using a neti pot again. And I’m not elbowing him in the back several times a night!

(Note: I wasn’t paid to write this post, just given a sample of the Ocean in order to do a product review. Hubby is quite pleased with the product. For realz.)

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3 Responses to A Tale of Two Netis

  1. Avi Moyal says:

    Love it. I tried a Neti ponce once and it was uncomfortable. So I started buying the saline sprays. I do prefer the aerosol cans over the normal ones and don’t laugh, I really do prefer the Ocean brand over the Walmart one. It makes a difference.

    I use them when I start to feel a tickle in my nose, it’s like a signal “hey I might be getting sick soon here”. :)

  2. five5star5s says:

    If you are using a neti pot, ensuring that the pot and your water is clean is the best advice out there. Water from the southern US states is more likely to be contaminated with the amoeba, but it can also live in areas with geothermal pools like here in California or in vast lake areas like Minnesota. While my well water doesn’t reach the temperatures to allow the amoeba to survive, it is wise to use water that has been filtered or previously boiled. My bottled water cooler comes with a hot water spigot and I fill half or so up with the hot water and then cool it down with cold water. Buying a bottle of distilled water costs pennies per nasal rinse and helps ease the mind. They have reported that the salt does not kill the amoeba after 4 hours of soaking. Always use the correct proportions of salt in your neti pot, rinsing with just water is bad and unproductive as your mucous will not be thinned from the saline solution. Use 1/2 per 10 oz of water and you can even use more to calm inflammation. Using a quality mineral salt is important too- most salts have added anti caking agents (which is a conversation we should really discuss as we all consume salt in several manners… but I digress) Check out this website to help inform yourself http://www.sinussupport.com While I agree that we should all be using good clean water, I caution people from being overzealous and falling into the hysteria of the issue.

  3. Candi says:

    There was a House episode about this. Ironically, I had used my neti-pot the first time the night before this episode aired and scared me to pieces. You can use distilled water and add salt. Cheapo and easy to get.

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