TechAvoiding Tap Water in Your Neti Pot Could Save Your Life

Avoiding Tap Water in Your Neti Pot Could Save Your Life

The Dangers of Using Tap Water for Sinus Rinsing

Tap water in the United States may be safe to drink, but it is definitely not sterile. Contrary to popular belief, it is not suitable for squirting deep into your sinus cavities or eye sockets. CDC researchers recently highlighted the dangers of using tap water for such purposes, following several cases of life-threatening amoeba infections linked to sinus rinsing.

In a study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers examined ten cases where individuals developed serious amoeba infections after using tap water to clean their sinuses with neti pots or squirt bottles. While these infections are uncommon, a significant number of people in the US are misinformed about the safety of tap water for various household medical activities.

According to a recent survey study, 33 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that US tap water is sterile, with no living bacteria or germs. Additionally, a majority of respondents wrongly assumed that tap water is safe for rinsing sinuses, contact lenses, and respiratory devices. Despite general water treatment measures to reduce contaminants, microorganisms still exist in tap water due to biofilms present in distribution systems and plumbing.

In the recent CDC study, researchers identified ten cases of amoeba infections linked to sinus rinsing, with five cases involving the use of tap water. These infections are caused by the free-living Acanthamoeba species, which are commonly found in biofilm-associated amoeba. While cases of Acanthamoeba infections are rare, they have a high fatality rate of approximately 82 percent.

Most of the reported cases occurred between 2015 and 2022, with individuals having compromised immune systems due to conditions like cancer, organ transplants, and HIV. These conditions increase the risk of infection and severe outcomes when exposed to amoeba in tap water. It is crucial to be aware of the potential dangers of using tap water for activities like sinus rinsing to avoid serious health consequences.

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