Medical Moment: Using A Neti Pot

Medical Moment: Using A Neti Pot

Telluride Inside… and Out is proud to feature the Telluride Medical Center’s MEDICAL MOMENT, a weekly column that answers common medical questions in pop culture. Have a question for the doctors? Click here to send.

Dr. Paul Koelliker answers this week’s question: Should you use a neti pot?

Dr. Paul Koelliker

Dr. Paul Koelliker

Neti pots are tools used for nasal irrigation, the personal hygiene practice in which the nasal cavity is washed to flush out excess mucus and debris from the nose and sinuses.

Nasal irrigation is an effective means of clearing mucus from the nasal-pharynx. There is evidence that shows that regular nasal irrigation with saline may decrease upper respiratory infections, and help the body clear sinuses.

Care must be taken, however, not to introduce infection with contaminated irritant or unclean devices.

There have been recent reports of Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) caused by the use of neti pots.

PAM is caused by an amoeba named Naegleria fowleri. This amoeba is found throughout the USA, but is more prevalent in warm fresh water. It can also be found in hot springs.

The amoeba enters the body through the nose and is able to travel through the nasal passages to the brain where it can cause an infection.

Neti pot

Neti pot

PAM is a rare infection and there have been only 123 cases reported in the USA since its discovery in the 1960s. That being said, the disease is almost uniformly fatal with only two known survivors.

Most cases of PAM occur in young boys who have been swimming in fresh water. Recently there was a cluster of cases in Louisiana in neti pot users, and the amoeba was found in the tap water.

The CDC recommends using distilled water as a base for the irrigation solution, filtering the water through a 1 micron filter, or boiling the water prior to use. Water should be boiled for at least three minutes.

Commercially available sterile saline mists and spray are also readily available at drug and grocery stores.

Neti pots should be cleaned regularly and the CDC recommends using ones that are dishwasher safe.

One could hypothesize that others pathogens could be introduced into the body via this route, and nasal irrigation should be performed in a careful and sanitary fashion. No one wants to get sick while trying to prevent illness!

Editor’s note: The Telluride Medical Center is the only 24-hour emergency facility within 65 miles.

 As a mountain town in a challenging, remote environment, a thriving medical center is vital to our community’s health.

For more Medical Moments on TIO, Click Here.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.