The risks and benefits of neti pot nasal irrigation


“The Risks & Benefits
of Neti Pot Nasal Irrigation” As described in a 2011 review
in American Family Physician, nasal irrigation with salt water
using something like a neti pot has been shown to be beneficial
for those suffering from sinus infections. “…a safe and inexpensive
treatment option for patients seeking symptom relief,” an opinion shared by none other
than The Cochrane Collaboration, probably the most prestigious source
of evidence-based medicine. So, what’s the downside? Well, as with any alternative
or complementary medicine modality, there’s always a concern that
it could potentially delay treatment of serious disease. But for non-severe symptoms
in immunocompetent individuals— just mild pain and fever,
symptoms lasting less than a week— nasal irrigation can work wonders. But the reason I bring it up
is that an abstract presented at a medical conference in 2009 suggested
chronic nasal irrigation may result in more frequent, recurrent
attacks of sinusitis, and a new study appears
to have figured out why. People were reinfecting themselves
with contaminated neti pots (called here irrigation bottles). They cultured bacteria out of 97%
of the bottles collected from people who used them for recurring sinusitis. Under a microscope, they
demonstrated biofilm formation— bacteria stuck to the inner surface
so you can’t just rinse them out. The same bugs that caused your sinus
infection in the first place may just be sitting there waiting to
reinfect you later on. The good news is they found
simple cleaning methods— washing them out with boiling water
or microwaving them for 2 minutes— did a good job of sterilizing them, so they are ready and clean
for their next use.

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