When it comes to cold and flu season, there are a few things that people have as their good ol' standbys. We know what brand of tissues we like, what cold medicine works the best for which symptoms, and most of us know when we can feel a cold coming on.
One tool that many, many people swear by is the Neti Pot. It's a little teapot-like device that you can use to flush out your sinuses, claiming to help you treat your cold or the flu, but there have been a lot of reports that they aren't safe.
The FDA has issued a release to clarify the dangers and risks of a Neti Pot, and how to use them in a way that isn't going to cause any issues.
Most of the concerns over the Neti Pot started after a woman died from an infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba that she had gotten after using a Neti Pot. She had used filtered tap water, but it still led to the infection.
The FDA has now released an official guide that clarifies the requirements for water used in a Neti Pot.
What types of water are safe to use in a Neti Pot?
Distilled or Sterile water
You can purchase distilled and sterile water at most stores. It has already been filtered of all harmful minerals or bacteria, and should be safe to use.
Boiled and cooled tap water
If you don't have distilled water, you CAN use your tap water, but only after you boil it. Let the water come to a boil for three to five minutes, and then let it cool until it is lukewarm.
According to the FDA that water can then be stored in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. After that point you should boil it again.
Water passed through CDC approved filters
You can use a filter that has been approved by the CDC to filter your water before putting it in your Neti Pot. The CDC's guidelines state that the label must read "NSF 53" or "NSF 58." The other acceptable labels will read "absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller."
Other tips from the FDA
The FDA explained the best way to use the Neti Pot:
- Leaning over a sink, tilt your head sideways with your forehead and chin roughly level to avoid liquid flowing into your mouth.
- Breathing through your open mouth, insert the spout of the saline-filled container into your upper nostril so that the liquid drains through the lower nostril.
- Clear your nostrils. Then repeat the procedure, tilting your head sideways, on the other side.
The also specify that it's always best to discuss it with your doctor before trying it if your immune system is compromised.
Also, you need to be sure that you clean it thoroughly after each use.