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September 6, 2012

You Get The Picture: Strange cases of cold prevention

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — When a runny nose and an achy body were imposing upon my well-being, my mom would always suggest I use the trusty Neti pot.  The awkward teapot-like vessel is used to flush out your nasal passage faster than Niagara Falls could carry you down in a barrel.

I admit I’ve tried it twice and I’m not a big fan, although, my mom and sister will swear by it.  It definitely washes out any allergy irritants, congestion and clears out a cold.  But to me, it’s the most violating and awful experience to behold as warm, salt water shoots up through your nose, possibly touching your brain and, in my case, dripping down into my throat and pouring out of my mouth like a rabid dog as I grimace at the sodium rich tang.  

Thankfully, and unfortunately, the Neti pot has received some disfavor since two recent cases of a rare infection that caused death was related to the violating vessel.  As I recently read in the New York Times, in August the Food and Drug Administration discovered two individuals with cases of Naegleria fowleri amoeba, commonly found in rivers, lakes and hot springs.  Although this infection is exceptionally rare, it can occur when you get water up the nose when diving or swimming in lakes or rivers.  

The sneaky little ameba travels up the tunnel-like nose and into the brain causing a disease that ravages brain tissue and it’s reported to be almost always fatal.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one person has survived from 123 known cases since 1962.  The two recent deaths that occurred were suggested to be caused by amoeba-infected tap water, which was used to fill up the Neti pot for flushing out the sinuses.

Home remedies may save you hard-earned cash for a measly cold or bad allergies but, after reading about this brain-eating amoeba that sounds like a creature from the great unknown, I’ll stick to some DayQuil and Ibuprofen.  For those of you who are big fans of shooting salt water up your nose, I suggest you use distilled or filtered water only.  The weird Neti pot sensation is one in a million, but it’s not worth the one in 123 survival statistic.

mmccrarey@sentinel-echo.com

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