Neti pots for sinus congestion; can medicine make you forgetful?

Created date

February 14th, 2019
Arun Rao, M.D. Medical Director, Seabrook Tinton Falls, N.J.

Arun Rao, M.D.

Medical Director, Seabrook
Tinton Falls, N.J.

Q: I have sinus congestion and want to try a neti pot or similar device. Are they safe?

A: Neti pots—both regular and high-tech versions—have become heavily advertised as an effective treatment for colds, allergies, and sinus congestion. They work by rinsing out mucus from your nasal cavity. The Food and Drug Administration, however, has raised some concerns—specifically about the possibility of infection that occurs with their use. Your risk is increased if you don’t clean the device thoroughly, and some serious infections have been reported by people who use tap water instead of sterile saline solution or distilled water. That’s because some sources of tap water contain organisms that are not necessarily harmful if swallowed, but can thrive in your nasal passages. The FDA has also found that instructions included with these devices can be inconsistent or misleading.

Overall, before trying a neti pot, talk to your doctor about other possible solutions for your sinus problems. If, however, you decide to try a neti pot, have your doctor review the instructions with you and always clean it thoroughly after each use.

Q: Can certain medicines make you more forgetful? 

A: Several classes of drugs have been shown to interfere with memory and not only ones that act on the brain, such as pain medications, certain antidepressants, and antihistamines. For example, beta-blockers, which are prescribed for high blood pressure, have been associated with forgetfulness. In addition, two drugs taken together may interact in a way that affects memory, even if the drugs by themselves don’t. Because medicines affect everyone differently, take a complete list (including over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbal preparations) to your doctor for an evaluation. Explain all side effects, even if they seem minor. Your doctor may review your regimen and determine whether any medicines can be eliminated or changed.

Health and wellness experts practice exclusively at Erickson Living communities all over the U.S. Dr. Rao received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. He obtained his medical degree and completed his internship and residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey—Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J. Rao is a fellow of the American Geriatrics Society and the American College of Physicians. Board-certified in internal medicine and geriatric medicine, he joined the Seabrook team in October 2018.