So I’ve heard the buzz about the two people who recently died from amoebic infection related to neti-pot use. For all of us neti-potters, and those interested in amoebic infection, here are few thoughts on the topic…
- Always use filtered or pure spring water in your neti pot. The sinuses are cavernous spaces surrounding the brain and 4/5 of our sense organs. We only want good stuff going in these spaces.
- Most amoeba don’t make it past the epithelial lining in our “open-to-the-outside” spaces, such as the digestive tract or nasal passages. In fact 90% of amoebic exposure is uneventful, asymptomatic or non-invasive.
- The 10% of cases in which they do make it into inner spaces usually happens in the digestive tract (drinking ‘dirty’ water), and results in some uncomfortable digestive symptoms.
- A rare subset of these cases will result in the amoeba actually getting to deeper organs and setting up house (liver, lungs, and brain are their favorite spots). When this happens, they set up shop and the amoeba and necrotic tissue surrounding them usually form an abscess.
- Diagnosis is made upon histologically (under a microscope) examining the contents of an abscess (from a biopsy) or finding the little guys in stool samples.
- Amoebiasis is treated with an antiparasitic drug called metronidazole usually.
- Factors that have been found to be positively correlated with amoebic infection include: stress, malnutrition, immunodeficiency (HIV), on steroid medications (most asthma or chronic autoimmune conditions), alcoholism (usually related to stress and malnutrition and low immunity).
- So, basically, if you are healthy and have a healthy functioning immune system, you are unlikely to be affected by exposure to amoeba.
For those of us that are science dorks, here’s a cute slide show on amoebiasis.