A study recently published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, showed a lot of people mistakenly thinking tap water is okay for nasal rinsing, humidifiers and CPAP machines.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Chang said it’s safe to drink tap water, but not to use for in-home medical devices.
“There’s a lot of enzymes and chemicals in your mouth that help break down food, but those also can help kill bacteria and fungi, and then if you make it all the way down to the stomach, the acid in your stomach will kill these pathogens,” Dr. Chang explained.
However, it’s different and sometimes harmful when tap water is inhaled.
“Your nose basically has a direct connection to your brain. There’s a thin bone in the back of your nasal passage called the cribriform plate and that’s where the nerves from your nose actually connect to the brain and that bone is not solid. It’s actually got a bunch of little holes in it, it’s like a sponge, so if you’re squirting non-sterile water into your nostril, and if you use the right force at the right angle, you could be putting pathogens basically right next to your brain,” Dr. Chang explained.
Instead, you want to use distilled water or water that’s been boiled for at least three minutes and cooled to room temperature. This will help kill harmful pathogens. However, every time water goes up your nose, there’s a small risk.
Last week, a Florida man died from a suspected brain-eating amoeba linked to his nasal rinse.
As spring allergies kick up and more people reach for relief, Dr. Chang insists you take the extra step for your safety and use distilled or boiled water.