Neti Pot Deaths & How to Neti Safely

Two neti pot users in Louisiana died from a brain-eating amoeba in the water. Does this mean you should give up your neti pot?

The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, is sometimes present in freshwater lakes and ponds. It can also contaminate tap water and is not lethal if you drink it. It can infect the brain via the nasal passages, however, if it gets into the sinuses. Neti pot use isn’t the only way that people get infected with Naegleria fowleri. If you’re swimming in a contaminated lake or pond, it’s possible to get infected as well if water gets into your nose.

How to Neti Safely

When I talked about this story with my friend Tracy, she wondered why the headline was “Two Die from Using Neti Pot” and not “Louisiana Tap Water Contaminated with Brain-Eating Bacteria.” I think that’s a really great point, and I’m not going to let this stop me from using my neti pot. What I am going to do is take some extra safety precautions, since it seems that tap water may not always be safe for nasal irrigation. Here are some options to neti safely:

  • Distilled water. I’m not crazy about bottled water, but in this case it might be a better option. Some grocery stores sell distilled water that you can put into your own, reusable container. If that’s an option, it’s definitely more eco-friendly than buying bottled water.
  • Boil your water. This is my preferred method for sure. Boil your water, then wait for it to return to a safe temperature. Just to be clear, you do not want to put boiling water into your neti pot. Test a few drops on the inside of your forearm to make sure it’s reached a lukewarm temperature before you use it. You can also boil a few cups of water and store it in a Mason jar in the refrigerator, so you don’t have to boil it every time.

It’s always scary to learn that a healthy habit has caused harm, but I think it’s important to keep these incidents in perspective. Thousands of people use neti pots every day, and there have only been two deaths reported this year from Naegleria fowleri in neti pot water. If you take some simple safety precautions, there’s no need to panic or to give up your neti pot.

Image Credit: Neti Pot photo via Thinkstock.


Jo S.
Jo Sabout a year ago

Thanks Becky.

Jo S.
Jo Sabout a year ago

Thanks Becky.

Debbi Ryan
Deb Ryan3 years ago


Tammy Baxter
Tammy B3 years ago


Oh Lay Hoon
Oh Hui Xin3 years ago

Safety precautions has to be taken ,of course.
And I truly believes luck do occasionally play a part,just like majority of the population drink coca-cola ,yet a few actually died from acid poisoning. Phew...!

Ken W.
Ken W3 years ago

Looks like a sex toy ------ LOL

Nona E.
Nona E3 years ago

Would not consider doing this without sterile water. Thanks.

Joe R.
Joe R4 years ago

Can't imagine ever doing this.

Dale Overall

Neti pots are useful, had never heard of this organism regarding neti pots before but it appears as if this is very rare. There are so many people swimming in lakes/rivers/ponds and have not suffered much in the way of ill effects. Always useful information to know however if one uses a neti pot daily, especially when suffering from pollen allergies.

Have always boiled the water and never for ten minutes. During our water ban last year local officials advised a mere 1 minute to boil the water before drinking. Afraid I do not have the patience to boil for ten... After the water is boiled I just pour it into a mug and let it sit til lukewarm, add the saline solution and neti pot away! So pleased to know that since I had always boiled the water there are no little organisms invading my brain cells!

Fascinating, there is always some deadly organism out there it our brain cells or whatever. Having had river and lake water up my nose while swimming for much of my life, have not died yet. Thankfully infection is rare but forewarned is best.

Just do not run into the giant amoeba in space seen on the Star Trek episode The Immunity Syndrome - that will really wreck your day as well.

My neti pot and I will continue our relationship safely, with boiled water and then the soaking in hot soapy water for half an hour, a boiled water rinse and last of all, the fabulous air dry!

Thanks for the warning for those who do not boil the water!

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V4 years ago