Once More, With Feeling: Never Neti Pot with Tap Water
As the days grow shorter and the warmth less impressive, we turn our thoughts once again to the seasonal spike in sinus symptoms. This week, I want to check in on a story I covered a little while back about what can happens when nasal rinses are made from ordinary tap water.
In the original post, I discussed the very real dangers associated with introducing an ambitious bacterium (Naegleria fowleri) into your sinuses, where it most likes to thrive. Yet the truth about nasal irrigation is often less sensational: even without a population of these dangerous organisms in your water supply, it is far wiser to stick only with water sources recommended by the CDC:
- Distilled water
- Filtered water*
- Previously boiled water
That asterisk is important, as it underscores a major area of confusion among many patients: just how filtered is filtered enough? The CDC is clear on this point as well – stick with powerful filtration systems that have a pore size of one micron or less.
Will your home filter do the trick? Almost certainly not. The major home brands such as PUR and Brita do not approach the one-micron threshold, and for this reason they should be considered inadequate for the job of ensuring your nasal rinse safety. The same holds true for that built-in refrigerator filter.
If you have plans to irrigate your sinuses at home, make that extra trek to the supermarket for distilled water. Your sinuses will thank you.