Neti Pot

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, September 16, 2013
We first mentioned this amoeba over a year ago in connection with the death of a woman in Louisiana. Friday, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) announced that the microbe had been found in four locations in the St. Bernard Parish water system. The Atlanta based Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the presence of Naegleria fowleri in the public water supply, and all of this follows the death of a 4-year old from infection, back in August. So what is Naegleria fowleri, and what can you do to prevent exposure to this potentially deadly microbe?

Naegleria fowleri Under a MicroscopeA single cell amoeba, Naegleria fowleri is often found in bodies of warm, freshwater, but can also be found in soil. Typically, it enters the body through the nose. Once deep in the nasal passages, it makes its way to the brain and causes the often fatal disease, primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Symptoms of PAM can easily be misdiagnosed since the early stages resemble bacterial meningitis, and often can be mistaken for the flu.

The areas where the microbe likes to inhabit does not only include lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. Another potential source is drinking water. If you grew up like I did and have a well, there is potential there for the organism to make an appearance since this water is rarely, if ever, chlorinated. Public water supplies, like those that tested positive in Louisiana, are typically safe if properly chlorinated. Typically Seen More During the Summer Months, Naegleria fowleri Prefers Warm, Fresh Bodies of WaterOne potential problem, though, is that if not properly monitored and maintained, residual chlorine levels can dip below recommended levels. This opens the door for potential infection, and this is what the CDC found to be the case in this Louisiana parish.

Overall, the risk of infection is extremely low. Each year, millions swim in lakes, ponds, and streams all across the U.S., but in the last decade, there has been an average of less than four cases a year. When infection does occur, it often makes headlines due to the mortality rate. This can make Naegleria fowleri seem far more common than what it is. Still, there are a few preventative measures you can take to make this low risk, even lower.
  • Avoid Getting Water Up Your Nose - Sounds pretty basic right? This means if you're swimming, avoid diving or swimming underwater. You can also wear nose plugs or clips to help prevent this, and it's probably a good idea to keep an eye on the little ones. If they were like me and my brothers when we would play with the garden hose, inhaling water isn't uncommon.
  • Keep Swimming Pools Clean - Maintain adequate disinfection, for regular swimming pools - 1-3 ppm of free chlorine and a pH of 7.2 to 7.8.
  • If Using A Sinus/Nasal Rinse or Neti Pot - Follow user instructions. Use only distilled or sterile water, which can be readily purchased at just about any grocery or convenience store, or simply boil your water. Tap water is fine for nasal irrigation, if boiled, then cooled, before use.
Again, risk of infection is extremely low, and those using public water supplies generally have little to worry about. Risk from showering, cooking or consuming even contaminated water is almost non-existent. Unless you inhale water, it often doesn't make its way deep enough into the nasal passages to prevent any problem, and if consumed, the body's digestive system is more than capable of destroying it.

And in terms of swimming, if you weren't afraid of the water before, don't be now. Though slightly better odds than being struck by a meteor, risk of infection is pretty low. To put this into perspective, on average just under 40,000 people die a year from drowning. About 3 die a year from Naegleria fowleri.

In Louisiana, officials are increasing the chlorine in the water supply to not only kill the microbe but to also bring residual chlorine back up to recommended levels.

To see the DHH Press Release or for more information on Naegleria fowleri.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, March 05, 2012
Reconsider the Use of Antibiotics for SinusitisWhile sinus infections can affect anyone, they often are most problematic for those who suffer from respiratory allergies or those dealing with the flu or other illness. Seeking relief, people will often head to their doctor's office, and most carry a preconceived notion that the doctor can just prescribe and antibiotic, like amoxicillin, to clear things up. A study published in a February issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that this is not only NOT helping rhinosinusitis patients but may be setting us for difficulties later.

Researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis took aim at determining the differences in treating rhinisinusitis with amoxicillin versus over the counter treatments. Over the course of ten days, patients were given three doses a day of amoxicillin or a placebo as well as OTC treatments for congestions, cough, and fever.

When comparing both groups, researchers found there was no statistical difference in how patients were feeling after three days of treatment. After ten days, both groups showed improved conditions, but most sinus infections clear up by then, regardless of the cause of the infection.

This was unexpected for many in that the common belief is that antibiotics like Amoxicillin speed up the recovery process. So while patients request and many doctors prescribe antibiotics for sinus infections, for most, this is unnecessary. More importantly, it can also be contributing to a growing problem with bacteria and treatment.

What medical professionals are finding is simple bacterial infections that could traditionally be treated with an antibiotic are displaying resistance to these treatments. Due to overuse, antibiotics are having less and less of an effect on bacteria.

Using fewer antibiotics to treat sinus infections can not only avoid the complications associated with antibiotic use but also help to slow down this growing bacterial resistance.

If a trip to the doctor for antibiotics won't bring you the relief you're looking for, other methods may help your symptoms without costing you that extra trip to the pharmacy. Many people have used a Neti pot or another type of nasal irrigator, with a slightly hypertonic or isotonic solution, to soothe inflamed sinuses and reduce congestion. Of course, there's always chicken noodle soup, a box tissues and a bottle of Nyquil.

Posted by Shifrah on Friday, January 13, 2012

Knowing that you can do something to take charge of your allergy symptoms is empowering, especially if you've resigned yourself to the sniffling, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes as facts of your life. Butallergen avoidance and environmental control can really change an allergy sufferer's life.

When implementing an allergen avoidance routine, your first steps should include using basic environmental control products, such as air purifiers in the bedroom and allergy relief bedding. In addition, practicing the following simple daily habits will help keep allergy symptoms in check so that you can live every day breathing better:

  • Cleanse nasal passages with a neti pot. Most allergens find their way into your body through your nose. Flushing allergens out of your nasal passages gets rid of many allergens before they can set the allergic response in motion. Keep a neti pot, and safe water, within arm's reach in the bathroom and make a habit of using it every morning and any time allergens are especially pervasive, such as after dusting or when pollen counts are high.

  • Prevent dry skin by moisturizing. Slathering lotion on dry skin doesn't do as much as sealing in moisture by applying lotion after washing hands or showering. Overly dry skin can lead to eczema flare-ups, and a compromised skin barrier allows allergens to enter your body through the skin. Be sure that your lotion itself doesn't cause problems; choose moisturizers without fragrances and other irritating chemicals.

  • Implement a shoes-off policy. It's astounding the amount of chemicals and allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and more that we track into our homes on our shoes. Make it a practice to take shoes off at the door, and find a way to politely suggest that guests do the same.

  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and off of upholstered furniture. For most pet owners, Fido and Fluffy are part of the family. But to reduce allergy symptoms, it's important to keep pets out of the bedroom and off of upholstered furniture in order to reduce the amount of lingering pet dander. Provide designated, comfortable areas for pets to relax and train them to stay away from allergen magnets. For more on pet allergies, see Surviving Pet Allergies

  • Check pollen counts. Knowing what you are allergic to and when and where those allergens are abundant is the core concept of all allergen avoidance measures. Especially during spring and fall, check pollen counts and try to stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Note that particular times of day can be higher than others.

  • Choose allergy-fighting foods. With growing evidence that nutrition plays a vital role both in the formation of allergies and in how susceptible we are to the effects of allergens, learning about foods that help allergies and incorporating them into your diet is another easy way to minimize allergy attacks.

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, December 20, 2011
For the second time this year, neti pots have been linked to tragic fatalities via the contraction of Naegleria fowleri , the “brain-eating amoeba”. While this raises alarms over the use of neti pots to relieve congestion and allergy symptoms, the neti pot itself is NOT the problem. Indeed, there is something in the water.

Naegleria fowleri is typically found in warm, freshwater sources and is most often contracted while swimming in lakes, ponds and rivers. Contraction is more common in the American South and Southwest as these areas typically have large bodies of fresh water that remain warm throughout the year. Though the occurrence of contraction is extremely rare, due to the terminal nature of the microbe, reported incidences are often very high profile.

In the most recent instance, a Louisiana woman contracted the Naegleria fowleri after rinsing her nose with tap water. Though chlorination kills most organisms like this, it is not 100% effective. This is believed to be the case twice this year in Louisiana, and currently the CDC is assisting the Louisiana Department of Health in investigating the source of the microbe.

Nearly all types of neti pots recommend using distilled water. Using sterile or distilled water, or even water that is boiled then cooled to room temperature, is safe and effective. And for as much as we would like to believe that the water we consume, cook and bathe with is safe, unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Despite these instances, neti pots remain one of the most effective ways to relieve congestion and rinse away allergens without the use of medication. However, when using a neti pot, please follow the instructions as listed by the manufacturer and remain safe while relieving allergy symptoms.

Posted by Shifrah on Friday, March 18, 2011
Enjoy spring with a minimum of allergies by following these simple tips.If you're like me, it's almost impossible to resist going outside to enjoy the beauty and soft warmth of spring – even if you pay for it later with itchy eyes, sneezing, and sniffles. Following are some easy ways to keep the allergies to a minimum, even when you venture outside for fun:

• Time your excursions. Pollen counts are usually highest in the morning, from the time the dew dries until late morning. If you can, stay indoors during this time.

• Watch the weather. Cloudy, humid days with little wind are the least allergen-ridden. Conversely, dry, sunny days with a breeze make pollen light and airborne; you'll be exposed to much more pollen when you're out during this kind of weather.

• When you come inside from a nice spring walk, take off your shoes to avoid tracking the pollen all over your house.

Take a shower to rinse off allergens that get stuck on your skin and hair. This way, you won't be inhaling allergens for hours after your time outside.

Use a neti pot every morning and after your walks to keep your nasal passages clean of allergies.

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