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Nasal Rinse: Safeguarding Health Amidst Microbial Hazards

Visual Representation for Nasal Rinse | Credits: iStock

United States: A new health threat has been looming upon the United States as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued warning against the potential danger of nasal rinsing linked to amoeba infection of the skin, eyes, lungs or brain.

According to the report issued by the CDC, an individual must avoid rinsing their nasals with tap water. The report was published by the experts on March 12, Tuesday in the journal ‘Emerging Infectious Diseases.” The conclusion of the study was made after cases of ten (10) US patients were analyzed and studied in detail; as per the researchers, all ten cases were infected from Acanthamoeba – a type of amoeba, according to Live Science.

The research mentioned that all the patients fell sick after they rinsed their nasals with water through a squeeze bottle or neti pot.

Complications occurred after getting infected with amoeba!

According to the researchers, the patients experienced a range of complications after getting infected with amoeba. The experts mentioned that six (6) people experienced skin diseases, and six (6) others suffered from granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE) – a rare nervous system infection that directly affects the brain and spinal cord.

The health authorities mentioned that out of ten, seven (7) patients were able to fight their illnesses but three (3) lost their lived to GAE. The researchers further clarified that out of ten, five were unsure about the water they used for nasal rinsing and four said that they used tap water and the remaining one mentioned that they sterilized the water but washed their device in tap water – before using it.

The researchers and experts further mentioned that all the infected people were having weakened or compromised immune systems.

How can tap water infect a person?

Tap water typically harbors minute microorganisms, usually neutralized by gastric acid. Even so, the­se tiny life forms can last in the nose­. Sometimes, infections occur. In the­ past, using tap water for nasal rinsing led to infections cause­d by amoebas. These are­ called “brain-eating amoebas,” like­ Naegleria fowleri and Balamuthia mandrillaris.

Acanthamoe­ba amoebas also threaten he­alth. They may make a deadly brain dise­ase called granulomatous amoebic e­ncephalitis (GAE). First, people fe­el confused, have he­adaches, and seizures. Acanthamoe­ba lives everywhe­re – on land and in water sources like­ lakes, rivers, and tap water tanks, according to Live Science.

The revelations of the recent CDC report serve as a poignant reminder to practitioners of nasal irrigation to prioritize safety. The CDC advocates for the use of boiled, sterile, or distilled water for nasal rinsing. Tap water, for instance, necessitates boiling for at least one minute to eradicate microbial contaminants, or three minutes if residing above 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) elevation, and must be sufficiently cooled before application.

“We disseminated this study to heighten awareness of associated risks,” elucidated Dr. Julia Haston, lead author of the study and a medical epidemiologist at the CDC, in dialogue with CBS News.

Acanthamoeba can infiltrate the body through various avenues, including ocular, dermal, or respiratory routes. Characterized as an opportunistic pathogen, it typically poses no threat to individuals with robust immune systems but capitalizes on vulnerabilities or tissue breaches to initiate infection. Individuals most susceptible to infection encompass those with a compromised immune status due to organ transplantation, malignancies, HIV, or diabetes.

Given the ubiquitous presence of Acanthamoeba, pinpointing infection sources and implementing preventative measures pose considerable challenges, as outlined by the report’s authors. Consequently, based on available data, conclusive attribution of all ten highlighted cases to non-sterile tap water exposure remains elusive, as per Live Science.

Nonetheless, the authors underscore the imperative of heightened awareness regarding safe nasal irrigation practices, which, when executed prudently, confer myriad health benefits, such as alleviating symptoms associated with allergies or common colds.

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