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Dec 6, 2011 7:53 PM by Melissa Hawkes

DHH Warns Improperly Using a 'Neti Pot' Could Kill You

Many of us suffer from sinus problems and will do just about anything to clear them up. A popular over-the-counter method is a Neti Pot. It's been around for years, but state health officials are now warning people about its dangers after two recent deaths in Louisiana. .

People commonly use a Neti Pot to get some sinus relief. It looks like a small tea pot or some types come in a small squeeze bottle. You mix up luke warm water and a salt solution and then use it to flush out of your nostrils.

Ear, nose and throat doctor, Bradley Chastant, said "we really see some sick people here in this office."

He said improperly using A Neti Pot can cause severe headaches, sinus problems and sometimes cause death. Dr. Chastant said people come into his Lafayette office every week suffering from these problems. One of the first questions he asks is what they've been doing.

He said, "they say 'well I've been doing this Neti Pot and putting all these herbs inside.' Thinking holistically we can kind of get the sinuses healthy, but in essence what happens is you damage those areas, so they aren't a protective. You build up bacteria and it'll propagate in those situations."

The problem isn't with the Neti Pot itself. it's with the water people put inside of it. Even the directions recommend using tap water, but health officials say using tap water is what lead to the death of both Louisiana residents.

Dr Chastant said people should not ever use tap water, instead he recommends using sterile, distilled, or previously boiled water.

"If you think about it after you use the Neti Pot , you put it up. It's wet and moist and what things grow in there is incredible," he said.

Not properly sterilizing your Neti Pot after each use, as well as using tap water can cause an infectious disease called naegleria fowleri to form in your nostrils. It eventually will spread and eat away your brain and in rare instances kill you. However, Dr. Chastant said there are times when it's okay to use one.

He said, "if you have a cold. Use it 24 to 48 hours and put it up. If you feel like you need some irrigation we have some better techniques to do that."

His recommendation is never using it for chronic sinus problems, instead he recommends using a nasal spray called Nasa Mist.

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