Death by neti pot

Nasal rinses with neti pots or squeeze bottles have become increasingly popular for treating colds, allergies and sinus troubles.

But as an NPR blog post says, “It’s not such a great remedy if it kills you.”

Two people have died in the last six months from infection with brain-eating amoebas after using neti pots.

The likely culprit? Tap water.

“Drinking water is good to drink, very safe to drink, but not to push up your nose,” Raoult Ratard, state epidemiologist for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, told NPR.

Two residents from Louisiana have died after using neti pots, the first known deaths associated with the device.

“The first one could have been a fluke,” Ratard told NPR. “But now that we have a second one, the only explanation is the use of the neti pot.”

In June, a 20-year-old man died of encephalitis caused by an infection with Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba common in rivers in lakes.

In October, a 51-year-old woman died of encephalitis. The doctor thought to ask if she used a neti pot. Both her brain tissue and her home’s tap water tested positive for the microbe, according to NPR.

The deaths are prompting Louisiana docs to issue a new warning: If using a neti pot or other nasal irrigation device, use distilled or filtered water.

Personally, I’ve always been a little hesitant to try a neti pot — despite, or perhaps because of, Oprah’s glowing reviews.

Hearing about death by brain-eating amoeba is enough to scare me away from neti pots for good.

Have you tried a neti pot? And, if so, did you use distilled or filtered water?

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