Sinusitis or brain-eating amoeba, you decide!
December 16, 2011 10:52 AM   Subscribe

We've talked about using neti pots in the past. From Louisiana comes this cautionary instruction on proper technique!
posted by Runes (77 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Ameba"? Really?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:56 AM on December 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Uh oh, don't let Bobby hear about this!
posted by kmz at 10:57 AM on December 16, 2011


Yikes! I use a neti pot and I've been using Tap water.

Guess I'll make a change in procedure.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:58 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh. As if I needed another reason not to use neti pots. It's like "Yo dawg I heard you liked ear-nose-and-throat congestion so I decided to clog up your sinus cavity while you already have a clogged up sinus cavity."
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:59 AM on December 16, 2011


Ameba is a valid alternate spelling for amoeba.
posted by kmz at 11:00 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Ameba"? Really?

I think the bigger story here is that the water in Louisiana will kill your brain.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:00 AM on December 16, 2011 [29 favorites]


From my cold, dead hands.
posted by Adam_S at 11:01 AM on December 16, 2011


Didn't mefi have something on the outbreak of this amoeba over the summer ?
posted by k5.user at 11:02 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ameba is a valid alternate spelling for amoeba.

Not 'round here, it ain't.

I think the bigger story here is that the water in Louisiana will kill your brain.

And makes you lose your ability to spell?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:02 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just started using a neti pot (actually a squeeze bottle) a few months ago. It's awesome. Like brushing your teeth for the first time in your life.

Just boil the water first, and sanitize the bottle every once in a while with 10% bleach solution and you'll be fine.
posted by mullingitover at 11:06 AM on December 16, 2011


Ugh. As if I needed another reason not to use neti pots. It's like "Yo dawg I heard you liked ear-nose-and-throat congestion so I decided to clog up your sinus cavity while you already have a clogged up sinus cavity."

That's really not how it works. it will change your life if you have chronic congestion.

Just use safe water. It's worth it and not that hard.
posted by cmoj at 11:07 AM on December 16, 2011


FatherDagon: I think the bigger story here is that the water in Louisiana will kill your brain.

Agreed. Neti pots are only one way to get water in your nose. Anyway, the wiki section on Naegleria fowleri-related deaths makes this sound like a pretty limited concern.

Anyway, they aren't really am(o)eba, anyway. They're classified as Percolozoa.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:07 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just boil the water first, and sanitize the bottle every once in a while with 10% bleach solution and you'll be fine.

Unless you've previously used tap water, in which case you'll have to claw the amoeba out of your brain with a fork.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:08 AM on December 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


cmoj: Just use safe water. It's worth it and not that hard.

And be careful if you have a sinus infection, as you might end up spreading the infection further in your sinuses, making you more sick for a while. It happened to me once, and was unpleasant, but I felt a lot better after I got over my fever.

Every other time it's felt great. Plus it grosses people out, which is always fun.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:09 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Ameba"? Really?

It's an acceptable spelling. I believe that "amoeba" may be a more British form and "ameba" is Americanized.
posted by crazy_yeti at 11:10 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


From here:
"Ameba" is the first given spelling in most American medical and scientific dictionaries as of the late 1990s. Further, the entry in the "Random House College," 2nd Edition (1997) reads: ..
ameba or amoeba (n.) ..

However, "Merriam-Webster's Collegiate," 10th Edition (1993), the "American Heritage," 3rd Edition (1992), and other American dictionaries list "amoeba" first, with "ameba" as a variant.
See also this and this.\

(Mind you, I also vastly prefer "amoeba".)
posted by kmz at 11:11 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tempest in a neti pot
posted by obscurator at 11:11 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


If your tap water is so horrible that heating it and adding salt don't make it safe for contact with your body...you really have problems larger than neti pots or sinus congestion to be worrying about.
posted by trackofalljades at 11:12 AM on December 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


A 51-year-old DeSoto Parish woman died recently after using tap water in a neti pot ... a 20-year-old St. Bernard Parish man died under the same circumstances

What the fuck? How in the world are there amoebas (or Percolozoa) living municipal tap water? Maybe there's E. coli and cholera in there too.
posted by exogenous at 11:12 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Louisiana tap water is perfectly safe - former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin had plans to bottle and sell our tap water (quote: "Y'all think I'm playing," said Nagin, defending the plan to a chuckling audience as quickly as he announced it) so obviously it's clean. And, you know, St. Bernard Parish is just one parish over, so surely their water is just as pure.

If you're still afraid, though, Drew (of toothpastefordinner) shows us that water's not the only liquid you can use in a neti pot.
posted by komara at 11:18 AM on December 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


What the fuck? How in the world are there amoebas (or Percolozoa) living municipal tap water? Maybe there's E. coli and cholera in there too.

Tax cuts.
posted by mhoye at 11:21 AM on December 16, 2011 [14 favorites]



After I had my FESS* done, and the packing removed, my doctor recommended I use a neti pot to help with healing and to clear the scabs out.

The first few times were really dissapointing - I couldn't get any water to pour through, and it was painful and useless.

Then I got a couple of enormous blood clots out - about 1/3 cup in volume. I know because I put them in a measuring cup to show my wife. She almost left me over that. Anyway, after that it was awesome.

My doctor suggest a saline solution made with canning salt cut with little baking powder (or soda, I can't remember). Apparently, this is nicely sterile and doesn't dry out the sinuses like straight tap water does.

*not for the squeamish.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:21 AM on December 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


next up, dying from hug-transmitted flesh-eating bacteria
posted by facetious at 11:29 AM on December 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Every time I use a neti pot, no matter how much I try, I fail to get all the water out, and invariably a bunch leaks out hours later in the day, usually when I do something like bend over and tie my shoes. The first time it happened I thought my brain was leaking out.

It makes me wonder if I have an unusually cavernous nasal cavity.
posted by WASP-12b at 11:30 AM on December 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I usually make a 2-liter bottle of saline at a time. 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of baking soda. If you're going to Burning Man, make about four bottles ahead of time, and enjoy a significantly improved quality of life on the playa.
posted by mullingitover at 11:31 AM on December 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Whew. While I'm sad to hear of someone's death, I was kind of relieved that this isn't one of those cautionary tales accompanied by a lower body X-ray.

Redneck: "Uh, yessir, so I was using my neti pot in the shower and then I fell funny."
posted by resurrexit at 11:32 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ugh, WASP-12b, I have had the same problem. One time it manifested itself at a particularly inopportune time when I was ahem, hovering over someone else. I will leave the details up to you.
posted by Polyhymnia at 11:34 AM on December 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Philistines. It's αμοιβή or nothing.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:39 AM on December 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Every time I use a neti pot, no matter how much I try, I fail to get all the water out, and invariably a bunch leaks out hours later in the day

Ugh, WASP-12b, I have had the same problem.

How forcefully are you blowing the water out your nose after you irrigate? It should be like a sneeze-level force. Also, I remember when I first got my neti pot they recommended touching your toes with the opposite hand and alternating a few times to get the water out of all the crannies.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 11:40 AM on December 16, 2011


AHHHHHHHHHHHHH




AHHHHHHHHHHHHH
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 11:48 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


As terrible as this is, I couldn't help giggling at this line:

the state's second death this year caused by Naegleria fowleri, the so-called brain-eating ameba.

The brain-eating ameba... if that is your real name!!
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 11:50 AM on December 16, 2011 [23 favorites]


This may be the single most useful MeFi link I've clicked on all year.
posted by availablelight at 11:55 AM on December 16, 2011


Coffee ought to be free of brain-eating amoebas
posted by exogenous at 11:56 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


But if I use soda it'll be okay, right?
posted by mittens at 12:01 PM on December 16, 2011


water's not the only liquid you can use in a neti pot.

I like to use equal parts vinegar and Mountain Dew.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:14 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I minored in microbiology as an undergraduate, and never have seen "ameba" used in place of "amoeba". You learn something new every day.
posted by wintermind at 12:26 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here are the Rad Girls using the neti pot.

Don't be so quick to click if you get grossed out fast.

Be REALLY quick to click if you think Rad Girls are awesome.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:29 PM on December 16, 2011


dixiecupdrinking: the state's second death this year caused by Naegleria fowleri, the so-called brain-eating ameba.

As if anyone living in Louisiana has any brains to eat! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

(Disclaimer: I'm from the south, so it's ok to diss your own group, right?)
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:30 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to know if the amoeba can survive in salt water solution, and if this woman was using a salt solution, or plain water.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 12:31 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the bigger story here is that the water in Louisiana will kill your brain.

FatherDagon, that's only the public-school amoebae.

I keed!

They just weren't designed intelligently enough.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:39 PM on December 16, 2011


What the fuck? How in the world are there amoebas (or Percolozoa) living municipal tap water? Maybe there's E. coli and cholera in there too.

Microorganisms are everywhere, on everything. No amount of filtration will make municipal water sterile. But rest assured - E. coli can't live outside the body very long, and you're more likely to get V. cholera from seafood.
posted by lholladay at 12:44 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm going to try this, the neti-pot, not the brain eating am(o)eba. My nasal congestion is driving me nuts. And I think I'm probably on some possible meth makers fed list because of all the decongestant that I buy.

I'm a little nervous because I do hate water up my nose but I'm really sick of taking pills everyday, which aren't always very effective but the Afrin stings and Benzedrex (prophlhexedrine) works for like 20 minutes.
posted by shoesietart at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2011


It has killed 30 odd people in the last decade in the US--two of whom were using Neti pots. You are about 20 times more likely to die from lightning strike than from this bug.
posted by yoink at 1:14 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just baffled by the idea that brain-eating amoebas (or so-called amebas) are eating people's brains via the use of neti pots. If there are so-called brain eaters on the loose than what about brushing your teeth or splashing your face? Can those so-called moebys enter your eyeballs or bleeding gums and start snacking or your so-called gray matter? I kid, but damn this is some seriously crazy 3rd world stuff. Next thing we'll hear is little kids are getting so-called candiru fish swimming up their private sausages while they are splashing in the bath.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:21 PM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Moebys" is a valid alternate spelling of "amebas".
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:33 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Especially really huge amebas.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:35 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Especially ones swimming in your private sausage.
posted by nickmark at 1:39 PM on December 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


One time, ok, see, this one time a friend of mine rinsed her contacts in tap water in Indiana and managed to get an amoeba* in her eye and it ate some of her cornea. She went to the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, because her eye really hurt and a zillion** students and doctors observed her with morbid curiosity. Then she got some prescription eye drops and everything was better. 'Kay, bye.

* I've only seen the spelling "ameba" in crossword puzzle clues.
** Hyperbole.

posted by giraffe at 1:40 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love the water bottle type. I don't mean to be gross but I used it after I had sinus surgery and I couldn't believe the crap that was coming out of there!

Ok maybe I did mean to be gross.

I always used distilled water.
posted by daydreamer at 1:42 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Especially ones swimming in your private sausage.

The technical term for this unfortunate condition is Moebys Dick.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:45 PM on December 16, 2011 [16 favorites]


Moebys in my nasal cavity? It's more common than you think.
posted by Elmore at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2011


Awwwwww! Wikkle cutie brain eater!
posted by lalochezia at 2:06 PM on December 16, 2011


'...I got a couple of enormous blood clots out - about 1/3 cup in volume.'

I think that's possibly the worst thing I have ever heard, and I have never been so happy that Matt disabled the image tag.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yikes. I tried a neti pot once and apparently my septum is apparently deviated in such a way that the water coming in one nostril can't flow out through the other one at all. It just built up to a hideous pressure in my sinuses and then dribbled out bit by bit through my nose and ear and throat...

OK, sorry, TMI.

But if there's ever a next time, I need to worry about brain-eating ameba ("so-called"). That's the helpful message from the Louisiana State govt? Thanks, but no thanks, I guess.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:18 PM on December 16, 2011


If you aren't using Pine-Sol in your neti pot, then you don't know what excruciatingly painful pine freshness feels like.
posted by orme at 2:22 PM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


My neti pot remains the best thing I've ever put up my nose.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 2:46 PM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Am(o)ebas aside, sinus irrigation has saved my sanity. I was so worn down after having a baby and not sleeping that I kept getting sinus infections; either a new one started or an existing one flared up at least six times in a year. It was horrible. And I had used a neti pot years ago but was unimpressed with the results. Then my doctor recommended the squeeze-type bottle because adding a little force did a better job of rinsing the sinus cavity. So I started using the NeilMed squeeze bottle, distilled water warmed in the microwave for 20 seconds and a packet of regular sodium mix, and I've kept it down to one sinus infection in a year. I know it's not for everyone, but I think everyone who has congestion issues should at least give it a try a few times.

Also, put a room humidifier in your bedroom at night and close the door to keep the moisture in the room.
posted by mtevis at 3:07 PM on December 16, 2011


I'm in New York and apparently out of the amoeba belt; I guess my usual congestion technique of snorting cold tap water out of my cupped hands and making noises that sound like someone kicked Grimace is the nuts is safe.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:18 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This article expresses some doubt about whether the amoeba was really transmitted through neti, although the headline presents it as a definite conclusion.
posted by dilettante at 4:14 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every time I use a neti pot, no matter how much I try, I fail to get all the water out, and invariably a bunch leaks out hours later in the day, usually when I do something like bend over and tie my shoes. The first time it happened I thought my brain was leaking out.

It makes me wonder if I have an unusually cavernous nasal cavity.


That happens to me too. That might be a good thing: the brain-eating amoeba could just get lost in my labyrinthine nasal cavity and never reach my brain.
posted by homunculus at 4:27 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, naegleria fowleri. An amoeba so deadly there was a two part House episode about it. It is prevalent in warmer waters. It likes to enter in through the nose to gain access to the brain, so when you're using a neti pot you're giving it a hole in one.

cdc: Naegleria fowleri infects people by entering the body through the nose. This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated tap water @ 47°C) enters the nose. Once the ameba enters the brain, it causes a usually fatal infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
posted by ninjew at 5:09 PM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Egads. I grew up in Desoto Parish. I knew our water wasn't top notch, but I didn't know it was deadly. Then again, I've never used a neti pot, nor would I.
posted by Annabelle74 at 5:35 PM on December 16, 2011


Equal parts salt and baking soda at 1tsp ish per bottle does a great job with a NeilMed sinus rinse - adjust until you find your ideal osmotic point for personal mucous suspension :)

And yes, the random appearance of half a cup of clot after sinus surgery is a little downside. Not as much as not knowing if it'll be a few days or a few weeks/months afterwards, though.
posted by cromagnon at 6:32 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to know if the amoeba can survive in salt water solution, and if this woman was using a salt solution, or plain water.

I can't imagine anyone not doing this with salt water because oh my god fresh water would hurt.
posted by onya at 6:33 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Amoebas are not to be messed with. The organism that kills you in dysentery (which has killed one huge number of people since time zero) is like an amoeba. To them you are food.
posted by bukvich at 6:50 PM on December 16, 2011


Yes, fresh water buuuurrrrnnns. Nasty.

Using a neti pot got me off Flonase permanently, and I sure don't miss those nose bleeds I used to get.
posted by Peach at 7:35 PM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, don't put soap in it and attempt to blow bubbles with your nostril.
posted by XMLicious at 8:26 PM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Up until this point, I really hadn't considered the pros and cons of neti pots. Um, thanks. I had only been subject to seeing and hearing various troglodyte cow-orkers huffing and expelling tap water in the corporate restroom, without cleaning up after themselves.

Ugh.
posted by HannoverFist at 11:34 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, the YouTube link was pretty awesome! Balding White Guy waterboards himself not once, but three times! Awesome as it gets!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:36 AM on December 17, 2011


Amphotericin B is effective against N. fowleri in vitro, but the prognosis remains bleak for those that contract PAM, and survival remains less than 1%.[11] On the basis of the in vitro evidence alone, the CDC currently recommends treatment with Amphotericin B for primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, but there is no evidence that this treatment affects outcome.[11] Treatment combining miconazole, sulfadiazine, and tetracycline has shown limited success only when administered early in the course of an infection.[12]

While miltefosine had therapeutic effects during an in vivo study in mice, Chlorpromazine (Thorazine) showed to be the most effective substance - the authors concluded: "Chlorpromazine had the best therapeutic activity against N. fowleri in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, it may be a more useful therapeutic agent for the treatment of PAME than amphotericin B."

posted by Fupped Duck at 3:15 AM on December 17, 2011


Also, don't put soap in it and attempt to blow bubbles with your nostril.

Well dang. How about oil, can I put oil up my nostrils? How about peanut butter? Tabasco sauce? Aloe vera? Cocoa powder? Mayonnaise? Antifreeze? Ground-up snails? Whale sperm?

I'm ready to put together a complete and total list of things you should not put in your neti pot.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:43 AM on December 17, 2011


How to Irrigate Your Nasal Passages (with water, coffee and bourbon).
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 8:36 AM on December 17, 2011


netiphiles: it gets even better! Probably kills microbes in your pot as well.
posted by Fupped Duck at 12:02 PM on December 17, 2011


I used one getting over a cold last month, which leads me to suspect that this thread is a figment of my dying brain's imagination.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 3:05 PM on December 17, 2011


They also warn you about Naegleria fowleri when swimming in Yellowstone National Park, even though it's one of those things that they can't say is a problem, only that it "COULD" be a problem.

I've talked to a world renowned researcher that specializes in supplying safe water for third world type situations and works for the WHO about this very risk and he said the only risk/cases he'd ever heard of was if you were bridge jumping into infected water (thereby shooting it up into your nasal cavity) or a case regarding a drunk who passed out in a mud puddle and snorted the water into his sinus cavity. It's a very, very uncommon thing to worry about in the wild. Excepting the fact that neti pots are, seemingly, ideal delivery platforms for this stuff the.

Naegleria fowleri infections are very rare. In the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, 32 infections were reported in the U.S. Of those cases, 30 people were infected by contaminated recreational water and two people were infected by water from a geothermal (naturally hot) drinking water supply.

The more you know...
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:09 PM on December 17, 2011


It would be nice to have some numbers for, say, the concentration of salt in saline versus the likelihood of contamination, or the prevalence of N. fowleri in various municipal tap water systems. Or statistics regarding the aerosolization of amoebas by cool, hot, and ultrasonic humidifiers.

The Google Books result discussing home humidifier aerosolization is by the Center for Indoor Air Research, a Philip Morris-funded group, so: eh. (As far as I can tell, dinky home units don't seem to do much, but here's a nonlethal sensitivity reaction called "humidifier fever" that's related to N. fowleri dispersion by industrial units). Meanwhile, it looks like NYC doesn't collect data on amoebic pathogens. I'm sure that the watershed gets plenty cold at this time of year, and I know the water is treated with chlorine anyway. That doesn't change the fact that I am completely frigging neurotic, and now a little scared to use my humidifier. Blargh.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:54 AM on December 18, 2011


Ah, Louisana, my adopted home state. Where the feral chickens run amok, you can consume a gallon of hard alcohol in public, and the water will dissolve your brain.

I rather like the New Orleans tap water, which is neutral-tasting like the spring water I grew up on. I never put it inside my nose, though. The only place I've seen neti pots for sale is the fancy-schmancy Whole Foods uptown... hmm...

WHOLE FOODS WILL EAT YOUR BRAIN
posted by Nibbly Fang at 7:14 PM on December 18, 2011


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