May 2024

Reinforce Safe Nasal Irrigation Practices

Nasal irrigation is a helpful tool for many who battle sinus infections and seasonal allergies. While it’s likely safe when done properly, a recent report by the CDC is highlighting one potentially deadly side effect: brain-eating amoebae infections. This is a good time to talk to patients about safe nasal irrigation practices.

The recent study by the CDC suggests that 10 reported cases of brain-eating amoebae infections in recent years may have been due to nasal irrigation with tap water. While it’s not possible to definitively confirm this, providers should remind patients about safe practices, particularly as spring allergies ramp up. Free-living amoebae have been detected in over 50% of tap water samples throughout the US, but it’s been reported that 62% of patients believe tap water is safe to use for nasal irrigation.

Tell patients to use only boiled (for 3-5-minutes and then cooled down to lukewarm), distilled, or sterile water. Remind them that using a drinking water filter like Brita to treat water isn’t enough. And tell them to never use plain tap water. Also, explain to patients that irrigation pots and rinse bottles should be washed with hot soapy water after every use and should never be shared with other people. If used often, they should be replaced every few months. And if patients use a Neti Pot, make sure they’re using it properly.

Review our monograph to learn more about the potential benefits of nasal irritation.

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