Neti Pot Use and Safety Tips


Neti pots often look like minature tea pots and can be used to flush the nose to help sinus pressure. Water and a salt mixture are combined and then with some head tilting, the salt water goes up one nostril and back out the other.

Neti pots have been around for centuries and originated with the Ayurvedic and yoga medical tradition.   A few recent stories have me re-thinking my neti pot and how I use it. Mine stays in the shower and gets used there so I don’t make a mess spraying water all over the bathroom.


Recently there have been so me pretty scary stories of people using tap water in their neti pot and ending up with more trouble than it was worth. One report is of a woman in Louisiana using tap water in her neti pot and ending up with an amoeba in her brain. She died shortly thereafter.


This isn’t typically a problem if the water is ingested as a drink because the digestive system protects the body by killing such organisms before they get absorbed into the blood stream. The nose doesn’t have the strong acid of the stomach to kill offending organisms.


So throw the pot out or is there another solution?  Distilled water, either purchased or boiled water that has been cooled is now being recommended for patients choosing to use neti pots. Pre-packaged purified salt packets are also advisable and readily available at your pharmacy or store.


Neti pots should not be stored in warm moist places (ie, the shower), and should be washed with hot soapy water and allowed to dry between uses to prevent bacterial and mold growth. They should not be shared with anyone else.


If you’ve never used a neti pot, they are definitely a head saver when a cold has you congested.  Remember to make a strong “K” sound like in “kite” or “kitchen” as you’re using it. It closes off your throat so you don’t get the sensation of choking on salt water and gag. Continue to use your neti pot if you choose, just choose your water wisely!




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