Remember last summer, when a Florida teen died from the relatively rare parasite-amoeba Naegleria fowleri after getting a burst of lake water up her nose? Since then, there have been several more deaths… including from tap water.
What makes Naegleria fowleri so scary is how fast the encephalitis (brain inflammation) can kill you, and its seemingly random occurrence (before this year only a small handful of people have died of it).
Recent deaths have involved those using neti pots (lamp shaped devices used for sinus rinses). Because they just used tap water, rather than purified water or colloidal silver, they put the deadly amoeba straight into their brains.
Tap water is generally safe for drinking, although that varies by state and source. Some water may have not been processed to remove medications like antidepressants, birth control hormones, or heart medicines. One study estimated that more than half of US tap water is contaminated with the parasites Giardia or cryptosporidium, which get in at the source. For most people, tap water should be safe enough, but it could be better.
Avoid Contamination By Parasites From Tap Water:
- If you have a good immune system, drink away. If you have a weakened immune system, or your water comes from poorly filtered surface water (get a report from your local government, often available at rec centers and other government buildings), consider an at home purifier for your drinking water.
- Don’t wear contacts in the shower (or when swimming in lakes and rivers). Contacts increase the likelihood that the parasite Acanthamoeba will infect your eyes.
- When performing a sinus rinse don’t use tap water. That’s now an official recommendation, not just advice from a blog. Instead, use purified water (not all bottled water is purified, and cheap home systems won’t necessarily disinfect), or colloidal silver. Silver has long been used in water as a purification method, including on space stations. Make sure to let your device (neti pot or squeezer) dry between uses!
- Plug your nose when swimming in lakes, rivers, and water parks, especially when jumping in or performing sports.
- Support your immune system. Not everyone who swims in a lake, uses a neti pot, or takes a shower with their contacts gets sick. The broadest conclusion is that those who do might have been having an off day (the neti pot users who died were older, and more likely to have a weaker immune system).
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