Attention all you mini watering can nasal swiffers, there are brain-eating amoebas on the loose! But don’t go smashing your neti pot in a stuffed-nose huff quite yet, there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent the nasty and potentially deadly critters. Unfortunately, a 51-year-old woman and 20-year-old man from Louisiana weren’t aware of the potential dangers and recently died from primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) a rare infection from an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, thought to have been caused by neti-ing.
According to The Department of Health and Hospitals in Louisiana, the amoeba causes the disease primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue.
Ick! And ugh. The same infection can occur after swimming or diving in warm freshwater lakes and rivers, or transmitted through inadequately chlorinated pool water or underheated (less than 116°F) tap water, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said. (other non neti-related deaths earlier this year.) Early symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and neck stiffness. Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations.
If you have no rootin’ tootin’ idea what we’re talking about, neti what, neti who? A neti pot is literally a little pot you fill with a salt water solution and pour through your nasal passages to help clear them (or give yourself a nice salty throat drowning, which we’ve accomplished more times than not). See video below on how-to.
Sure brain-eating ameobas sound pretty awful, but so is thick snot and mucus. Flushing your sinuses using a neti is still highly recommended by many care providers. Heck, even Arm & Hammer has its own drugstore version. Luckily we’re informed of a few helpful steps to avoid such atrociousness:
Dr. Satish Govindaraj, assistant professor of otolaryngology at Mount Sinai Hospital advises:
Keep it clean: Make sure you wash the pot regularly with hot water and a little antibacterial soap. Clean it every day.
Don’t use tap water. Govindaraj recommends using distilled water or premixed packages of solution.
Replace your pot. Get a new one every few months. The hot water and washing can cause the plastic to weaken over time.
Also, maybe don’t go plastic. Try a ceramic pot, instead.
Now why can’t we ever get those brain-enhancing amoeba?