You may be someone who’s tried the neti pot and swears by it for seasonal allergy relief. Or maybe you’re someone who’s seen it at your local drugstore and wondered “what is a neti pot?” There are large numbers of people that fall into either of those two categories.
If you’re interested in trying it, or just eager to satisfy your curiosity about its purpose, we’ve got the lowdown on everything you need to know about the neti pot – what it’s used for, how to use it, and the potential risks.
What is a neti pot used for?
A neti pot looks like a small tea pot and is used for nasal irrigation. It works by flushing a mild saline solution through the nasal passage to clear it of excess mucus, debris, and allergens like dust and pollen. For many, regular use of the neti pot provides relief for sinusitis, hay fever, and cold. Neti pot usage may even eliminate the need for medication for sinus-related issues.
How do you use a neti pot?
The solution used in a neti pot is made up of water and an included saline packet. After mixing the water and saline in the neti pot to create a mild saline solution, the user leans over a sink, inserts the spout of the neti pot into a nostril, and allows the solution to flow through the nasal passageway until it pours out of the other nostril into the sink. It’s recommended for daily use, but consult your doctor about whether your condition warrants more frequent use.
What are the potential risks and side effects of the neti pot?
Although rare, some neti pot users report anxiety (caused by the unfamiliar sensation of water running through your passageway), stinging in the nasal passage, and headache. While the side effects aren’t too serious, there is one very dangerous potential risk associated with using a neti pot: a rare and very deadly infection. The infection is caused by using water that contains the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, which is commonly found in lakes, rivers and hot springs, but can also be present in regular tap water. If the amoeba is present in tap water, the water is safe to consume because the amoeba is killed by stomach acid before it can cause any damage. However, if infected water is flushed through your nose, the amoeba can travel to the brain where it causes a disease that’s almost always fatal. In fact, as of last year, two deaths were attributed to the contraction of this amoeba through neti pot use.
To guard against this risk, be sure to always use distilled, filtered, bottled, or boiled (and cooled) water in a neti pot. It’s also important to clean your neti pot regularly to prevent build up of bacteria or fungi that can cause chronic irritation or allergies.
Before using a neti pot, be sure to consult your primary care doctor or allergist.
Have you ever used a neti pot? Tell us what you thought of it below.
Sources: nytimes.com, livestrong.com, and wikipedia.org