If you rely on Neti pots for allergy and sinus relief, you may have been spooked to learn that Neti pots have been implicated in two fatalities. In both cases, the victims, both in the New Orleans area, contracted a deadly brain-eating amoeba after using these devices to rinse their sinus cavities with tap water.
But there’s no reason to stop using yours—if you do it safely.
Neti pots have been used for thousands of years as a way to irrigate irritants directly out of your nose. (The classic device looks something like a teapot; to use it, you pour water into one nostril, letting it flow out the other, then repeat with the other nostril.) They have been proven to be helpful in alleviating colds and allergies.
We asked Linda Dahl, MD, a New York-based otolaryngologist, to assess the risk—and give us some tips about the right way to use these nasal irrigators. Here are her three tips for safe Neti pot use.