Neti Pot “No-Nos” and Marriage Tips

Water flowing from a neti pot into a bowl.  Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

Shoving the business end of a “neti pot” up the nose is an activity that cannot be taken lightly. Explicit ancient cave drawings, which I’ve somehow been able to create, with the help of my 16-year-old son, tell a cautionary tale. (See Figure 1 below.) Indeed, next to the furnace, the neti pot is the most dangerous household item we own. It comes with lots of safety instructions, based on warnings from the FDA and the CDC. Most alarmingly, in some instances, improper neti pot use can result in brain-eating amoeba. (This time, I’m not kidding. See this article from the CDC-and this one from the FDA.)

Figure 1:  A “cave” drawing of a person frowning at a teapot-like item that is engulfed in flames. Cecilia drew the frowning face and the teapot. Alex, her son, drew the very expressive flames.

However, I did not know about the brain-eating amoeba when I tried using the neti pot for the first time. Nate did, but he didn’t tell me. He just oversaw the whole process and I kept accusing him of micromanaging. “I can read the directions myself,” I told him, but he wasn’t having it. He knew that if I had seen the words, “brain-eating amoeba,” I would have used the following description to try to hawk the pot on the neighborhood Facebook: “Delightful blue color. Amoeba not included. Does not explode.” Within seconds, I would have had various offers, and the neti pot would be gone—and Nate would have to continue to hear me say, “I can’t smell a thing! Nate, describe everything you’re smelling right now. What odors am I emitting? Would you describe them as “floral” or “pungent” because I have no idea?” He was tired of that song and dance and there comes a time, after 19 years of marriage, where lifting your arms to have your husband smell your armpits is no longer exciting. So, he was hoping the neti pot would save our marriage.

Here are the steps I followed:

1) I waited about 10-15 minutes for Nate to go to the store and buy distilled water. I had no idea why he insisted on distilled water at this point. Were we going to celebrate with some kind of drink that required distilled water? Was he going to wash out the beer-making equipment immediately after? Would we have home-brew by Christmas? What kind of magical occasion was this? Apparently, the brain-eating bacteria live in tap water. The stomach can kill the bacteria, but the nose lining cannot. Distilled water, therefore, is recommended for neti pot use, but boiling tap water would work out just as well. However, Nate did not trust my water-boiling skills because he’s seen me shout, “close enough!” when making eggs.

2) I had to use the distilled water to clean out the neti pot, according to the neti pot instructions. “Great—more things to clean besides my nose,” I thought to myself.

3) Next, I could add a packet of some kind of pre-measured salt solution packet into the neti pot. The manufacturers of the neti pot insist that this solution is the safest and most effective. The “kit” Nate bought came with thousands of these packets, so I doubt we’ll run out anytime soon. I’m also hoping that a stopped up nose is not a long-term “mid-life” crisis that leads to flashy and sporty neti-pot accessories purchases.

4) I could then add just 8 ounces of distilled water to the pot and let the solution dissolve. I was supposed to place the lid on the neti pot and gently swish the water/solution around, but the solution stuck to the bottom of the pot, which I believe is a metaphor for life. In fact, I think I’ve read a fortune cookie slip that says something to that effect: “Sometimes swirling the neti pot around is not enough to dissolve the solution. Take matters into your own hands, but sterilize them first.” So, when Nate wasn’t looking, I grabbed a spoon from the kitchen drawer and stirred the solution. I was probably risking grave consequences because “spoons” are not mentioned in the neti pot instructions.

5) Next, I could gently tilt my head to the right and bend over a sink. I’m pretty sure the sink should be sterilized too, but ours had breakfast dishes in it still. (If this happens to you, just close your eyes and don’t look at the breakfast dishes.)

6) Nate told me to gently place the opening of the teapot in my right nostril, making sure to completely cover the nostril. He also instructed me to open my mouth and breathe through my mouth.

7) Finally, I could start pouring the solution into my right nostril so that it would flow directly out the left nostril, which is not a soothing or comforting experience:

“Nate! Is this what water boarding is like? I’m water boarding myself!”

“Just keep your mouth open!”

“This isn’t natural! Why can’t I just go to the ocean or something and let a wave just go up through both nostrils at the same time? That’s why there’s an ocean! The Puget Sound is just 15-20 minutes away. Why didn’t we just go there?”

“Just repeat it on the other side. You’ll be fine.”

“Ugh, there’s more! Eight ounces is a lot of water for one nose. It’s too much!”

However, I was able to breathe easier and, within a few days, I could smell pizza baking and cinnamon. I could rest easier knowing I’d be able to smell the furnace—or the neti pot—if either one caught fire. I’d no longer have to say things like, “Nate, is anything burning?” every five seconds. Now, I could just draw in a deep breath and say, “Ahhhh. I smell the bittersweet tart aroma of cranberry muffins, baking in the oven, mingling with an underlying note of sweaty socks, which are drying on the musty windowsill, just above the cat vomit.”

Your turn: What are home remedies you use for common colds or minor health problems?

39 thoughts on “Neti Pot “No-Nos” and Marriage Tips

  1. PAM is not a disease you want. It used to be seen a bit too often in Australia before it was better known. It’s important when diving feet first to pinch your nose. A sudden jet of contaminated water in a weir or dam can cause the amoebae lade water through the cribriform plate into the ethmoid sinus and from there it’s just a short slide to the brain…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow. I learned a lot, today. I use Benadryl for allergies and Claritin-D when I can afford it. I use herbal teas and honey for sore throats. For colds, Gypsy Cold Care tea doesn’t cure it but does make it easier to make it through the week.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Big fan of neti pot here. I seldom get colds so rarely have to use it but it’s a life saver when needed. I used the net pot more when I used to work in extremely dusty conditions. I’d use the neti pot any day over drugs. It treats the problem rather than mask the symptoms.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think amoeba to the brain must be as rare as getting hit by a meteorite. Hot tap water seems to be fine but that could be my amoeba brain talking

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The CDC article says that it is rare and now that I think about it, I probably exposed myself to this amoeba on a regular basis back in the 80s. I used to give speeches in the summer and sometimes I’d get allergies/colds, so a doctor suggested I take regular warm tap water, mix it with salt and snort it up my nose. That’s definitely not recommended anymore. Thanks for the visit!


  5. O M G – you are a HOOT!!!!!

    I’m not brave enough to tackle a neti pot and I don’t think I ever will.

    Having a stuffed nose is not that bad – really 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Actually I make my own saline solutions and use that all the time.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Gee …. something else that I used to think was good for me and now I find out about the brain eating amoeba! Actually, I do use a neti pot on occasion when I have a cold or feel a cold coming on but I always boil my water and then use it after it cools. Good to know about PAM though and I feel better knowing that I have always boiled my water before using. Follow the instructions, people! Thanks for the info …

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That sounds kind of awful. I’m glad it worked for you, though, and that you could keep your sense of humor. We use vitamin C, gargling salt water, essential oils, and avoiding sugar and alcohol. According to an episode of Frasier, you’re supposed to avoid caffeine too, but that’s not going to happen around here!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Rabbit caught in headlights here. What the heck is a Neti Pot??? I got the gist, but that does sound like some kind of self-induced torture. And the thing about stuff eating your brain! That finished me. Frozen in my tracks now. I’m struck down myself at the moment and composing a post to milk every miserable moment out of it, I may include a link to this as it’s truly floored me. Do we not have this in the UK? Incredibly funny as per. Feel better soon 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It looks just like a mini teapot, but it really is for noses. Mine was made of plastic. I thought you could boil water in it. That’s not true. It’s not made for boiling water. It’s for pouring water up the nose. Lots of people swear by it and my doctor actually recommended it for me. Thanks for linking to my site–so cool! Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Never heard of one in my life before and then today there was one on Big Bang Theory (we’re a bit behind on our episodes!). How weird! Someone commented on my blog post that it really works for them too 🙂 All hail the Neti Pot! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes–it sounds like a made up thing, but it does exist–though it’s rare. In the 80s, I used to like to give speeches in speaking contests and my doctor told me to snort and gargle with salt water to clear my voice. I just used regular tap water. Later, as an adult, I lectored for my church and followed the same regime whenever I felt like my throat was phlegmy. I had no idea I was taking such a risk!


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