There have been a couple of recent reports in the U.S. of Naegleria fowleri infections in people after they flushed out their sinuses. Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba usually found in warm lakes and rivers. The infection, not communicable and very rare, is caused when water gets trapped inside the nose. Symptoms are similar to meningitis and include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck.
Even though the problem is very rare, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises a nasal irrigation device should always be used properly: Use only distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution, and follow the instructions to clean the pot after each use. Also, be sure to leave the container out to air-dry after washing.
This article was originally titled "Is it true you can get an infection from a neti pot?" in the March/April 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!