FDA issues warning for neti pot use - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

FDA issues warning for neti pot use

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The symptoms of allergy season for many people are bad this year.  Due to the drought, pollen counts are running high.  Making matters worse, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing a new warning for one popular, natural alternative for allergy relief.

It doesn't look pretty, but neti pots can offer some great relief for allergy sufferers.

While the pots are considered a safe way to drain a congested nose with water and saline, the FDA's issuing a new warning about what kind of water you use in them.

"It's best to use distilled water.  You can use sterile water, or you can sterilize it yourself by boiling it and letting it come back down to room temperature," Hy-Vee PharmacistTarah Grove said.

That's because some tap water contains low levels of bacteria that are safe to swallow since stomach acid kills them, but inside the nose, such bacteria can rarely cause serious infections, including one brain infection that can be deadly.

"It's not something that's normally in tap water to begin with.  So it's a very, very rare thing for this to happen even when using a neti pot, but it's something you'd never have to worry about ingesting and having a problem," Grove said.

It's also important to thoroughly clean and dry a neti pot after using it to prevent problems.  If you get a fever, nosebleed, or headaches after using a nasal rinse, don't use it anymore.  There are also plenty of other alternatives you can try to help get allergy relief.

"There are antihistamines like Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, decongestants.  There's a lot of things you can take to boost the immune system:  vitamins, Echinacea, zinc.  Then if you get into where you need a prescription type thing, they do make steroid nasal sprays that will help with inflammation in the sinuses and other prescription products, too," said Grove.

All those are solutions that might help you breathe a little easier this fall.

The FDA issued its warning to help consumers avoid improper use of neti pots, after at least two people in Louisiana died from a brain infection linked to using tap water for nasal rinsing.

Read the FDA's full consumer update here.

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