Is Neti Pot Use Dangerous?
How about Navage system or the NeilMed Sinus Rinse
or Any Nasal Irrigation System?
The original post was written back in 2008 which only addressed Neti Pots. At the time Neti Pots were gaining in popularity. I was prompted to write the post when I noticed a client’s neti pot on the kitchen counter next to a bowl of fruit and a dish of wet cat food. The bowl of fruit had a few overripe bananas which in turn attracted flies. I’m sure the wet cat food also attributed to the fly population. I promptly addressed my concerns with my client, now I’ll share them with you.
Anytime you put anything up into your sinus cavity there are potentially health risks, mainly the risk of an infection. When used properly, these products can be relatively safe. I know people that swear by their neti pots. Some of these products definitely have a higher potential for risks. Let’s go over a few things.
Why use them?
Most nasal irrigation systems use a saline solution to treat congested sinuses, colds and allergies. They’re also used to moisten nasal passages exposed to dry indoor air.
Nasal rinse devices include neti pots, bulb syringes, squeeze bottles, and battery-operated pulsed/pressure water irrigation devices.
Note – Not included in this post are OTC medicated and non-medicated nasal sprays.
In my opinion, From a contamination aspect, this product has the highest potential of use risk. I love the concept and if used in a clinical setting I would probably recommend this product. There are a lot of chambers, crevices and parts making it more difficult to properly clean before use.
What does the FDA have to say?
Improper use of these neti pots and other nasal rinsing devices can increase your risk of infection.
What Types of Water Are Safe to Use?
- Distilled or sterile water. The label will state “distilled” or “sterile.”
- Boiled and cooled tap water — boiled for 3 to 5 minutes, then cooled until it is lukewarm. Previously boiled water can be stored in a clean, closed container for use within 24 hours.
- Water passed through a filter designed to trap potentially infectious organisms.
- NEVER USE TAP WATER – Tap water isn’t safe for use as a nasal rinse because it’s not adequately filtered or treated. Some tap water contains low levels of organisms — such as bacteria and protozoa, including amoebas — that may be safe to swallow because stomach acid kills them. But in your nose, these organisms can stay alive in nasal passages and cause potentially serious infections.
- The CDC has reported fatalities linked to the use of tap water.
And if your immune system isn’t working properly, consult your health care provider before using any nasal irrigation systems.
To use and care for your device:
- Wash and dry your hands.
- Check that the device is clean and completely dry.
- Prepare the saline rinse, either with the prepared mixture supplied with the device, or one you make yourself.
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
- Wash the device, and dry the inside with a paper towel or let it air dry between uses.
Talk with a health care provider or pharmacist if the instructions on your device do not clearly state how to use it or if you have any questions.
Nasal Rinsing Devices and Children
Finally, make sure the device fits the age of the person using it. Some children are diagnosed with nasal allergies as early as age 2 and could use nasal rinsing devices at that time, if a pediatrician recommends it. But very young children might not tolerate the procedure.
Whether for a child or adult, talk to your health care provider to determine whether nasal rinsing will be safe or effective for your condition. If symptoms are not relieved or worsen after nasal rinsing, then return to your health care provider, especially if you have fever, nosebleeds or headaches while using the nasal rinse.
In conclusion and my personal choice
You can choose to use any of the products outlined above or go with an OTC product. I have tried the NeilMed Sinus Rinse product. In my opinion I had to touch too many things, the bottle, mixture pouches, water jug, microwave door…so I never felt hygienically comfortable with the process.
I personally will only use OTC products such as NeilMed Saline Sprays. I wash my hands and clean the bottle and nozzle’s end before each use.
When you buy the pre made products you virtually eliminate the possibility of a contaminated vessel and/or water solution.