by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
“The Triangle of Death.” It sounds like the title of a horror movie, doesn’t it? Recently, 12-year-old Arkansas native, Kali Hardig, was struck down by a brain-eating amoeba she contracted while swimming at a local water park. This brain-eating parasite, called Naegleria Fowleri, likely entered through her nostrils, entered her “Triangle of Death” area and caused her to develop a rare but deadly form of parasitic meningitis.
In light of this unfortunate development, I thought it advisable to write about The Triangle of Death and how to protect yourself and your family with safe practices. In this article, I’ll show you the right and wrong way to groom this area and will give you some vital tips on how to stay safe in public water parks.
What is “The Triangle of Death”?
The Triangle of Death is the area from the bridge of your nose to the corners of your mouth. The blood vessels in this area are very important because they are a direct line to your brain. This means any infections that develop in this area may completely bypass other organ systems and go directly to the nerve center. Although considered rare, if an infection develops in this area it can lead to headaches, vision loss, permanent paralysis, and even death.
The grooming habits you practice everyday could put you in danger of developing a life-threatening brain infection. This is why it’s important to know what (and what not) to do.
Tweezing Nose Hair
Your nose hair may be irritating but it’s your first line of defense against upper respiratory infections. Tweezing hairs directly out of your nose is not only painful; it can leave you with an open wound that may lead to a deadly brain infection.
Many are nasal carriers of staph bacteria (including MRSA), for example, and the bacteria is then able to enter the area from which the hair was just plucked. From there, entering the nearby brain is easy. Instead of plucking hairs with a sharp metal instrument, trim them back with clippers instead.
Though a simple nose ring might leave you at risk for developing infection, it’s not nearly as risky as some of the more exotic facial piercings some folks are getting these days. These include the septum piercing, the dimple ring, the “Monroe” on the side of the upper lip, and the “Medusa” in the center of the lip. These piercings are all in the Triangle of Death and could lead to serious health risks if the piercing gets infected.
If you have chronic acne, you may be tempted to “pop” pimples around your nose and lips. It is best to avoid this practice and instead use some natural anti-bacterial face wash and essential oils to remove pimples instead of popping them. Popping only spreads bacteria and oil and caused even more breakouts to form. Plus, it leaves you at serious risk of developing an infection.
Digging in the Nose
If you struggle with chronic allergies, you may have your bare hands near your nose nearly all the time. Instead of digging in your nose, blow gently using a tissue. Burst blood vessels from hard or excessive blowing could lead to serious infection.
Ignoring Injuries to This Area
Anytime you sustain an injury to this critical area of your face, it’s very important you take care of it right away. Cleanse it thoroughly and apply hydrogen peroxide to the wound. Dress it carefully and seek immediate medical attention if the cut is deep.
Use Tissues When Picking Your Nose
According to Dr. Oz, the average person picks his or her nose 5 times per hour! This doesn’t mean folks are walking around knuckle-deep in nostrils but scratching and pulling at the nose happens unconsciously all the time. Chalk it up to chronic allergies, autoimmune disease, and neurological dysfunction (which fools the body into feeling a near-constant itching).
If you’re a chronic nose-scratcher, carry some tissues around with you and use them when the urge strikes. This will help prevent the spread of infection and protect your delicate nasal membranes from possible injury from long fingernails.
Keep Your Hands Clean
Keeping your hands clean with regular washing is important, especially if you touch your face often. Invest in a good natural antibacterial soap and use it frequently. Carry it around with you in your purse to avoid using conventional antibacterial soaps containing Triclosan.
Avoid Touching Your Face
It’s much easier said than done to stop touching your face. Most of us do it constantly and don’t even realize. For the next couple of hours, try to be observant. Focus your attention on your face. Notice any itches, tingling, and other sensations that make you want to scratch or touch. This simple awareness might help you cut down on how many times you reach for your face in a day.
Use a Neti Pot Regularly
If you struggle with chronic allergies, a neti pot can help flush irritating pollen and debris from your nasal passages. Just once or twice a day can help stop the chronic itch that drives you to scratch.
Treat Chronic Allergies Naturally
Chronic allergies have become an epidemic due to poor gut health, compromised immune system, and environmental toxins. That is why it’s important to have an ally in the fight against them. Over-the-counter antihistamines may stop symptoms temporarily but do nothing to address the underlying cause of your allergies.
Also, when you stop taking them, they can cause “rebound allergies” by forcing an excessive amount of histamines into your system after you miss a single dose.
That is why, for my patients, I recommend Diamond Nutritionals’ Sinus Formula. It is also available for Children as Diamond Nutritionals’ Children’s Sinus Formula, a great tasting chewable. This formula contains powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting ingredients that help heal your allergies from the inside out.
These ingredients include:
Vitamin C is the number-one recommended supplement for allergies because it gives your immune system such a powerful antioxidant boost. Vitamin C is also a strong anti-inflammatory that helps ease sinus pressure and congestion.
Quercetin Dihydrate – 200 mg
A powerful anti-allergen, this biologically-active flavonoid prevents the release of histamine, blocking chronic allergic response.
Stinging Nettles Leaf – 200 mg
Stinging nettles act as a natural anti-inflammatory that eases chronic nasal inflammation.
Bromelain – 50 mg
Poor digestion can lead to overactive immune system response. Bromelain cuts down on this by providing your digestive system the support it needs to assimilate nutrients and eliminate properly.
N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine USP – 25 mg
This helps ease chronic inflammation and allergic symptoms while providing immune system support.
Symptoms of Parasitic Meningitis
Parasitic meningitis enters through your nose, where it travels to your brain and quickly begins destroying healthy brain tissue. Common symptoms of this deadly disease include vomiting, stiff neck, headache, and fever.
Avoid Parasitic Meningitis from Water Parks
Though human infection with the brain-eating amoeba that leads to parasitic meningitis is rare, it is still a worrisome problem that needs to be addressed. Millions of families with young children visit lakes, streams, rivers, public pools, and water parks every summer. Most of them come out just fine. Some do not.
This is why it’s very important to use these safe practices when visiting any type of public swimming area:
Never Take a Sick Child to a Public Swimming Area
Even if your child is nearly over a cold, bug, flu or stomach virus, keep them out of the water. When your child’s immune system is compromised due to illness, he or she is at much greater risk for absorbing a deadly parasite.
Bathe Your Children After Swimming
Natural antibacterial soaps contain essential oils that boost your child’s immune system while protecting them from harm. Bathe your child thoroughly after a visit to a lake, stream, water park, etc. Advise them to make liberal use of free-flowing showers or hoses at the park while making sure they protect their feet with flip-flops or water shoes.
Use Nose Plugs
The brain-eating parasite that attacked the Arkansas child likely entered through her nose, where it had immediate access to her brain. Prevent this from happening to your child by encouraging them to swim with nose plugs.
Swim with a Closed Mouth
Children who are laughing, splashing, and playing are not likely to think anything of swallowing water contaminated with urine, feces, chemicals, and parasites. Explain the dangers of swallowing this water to young children and encourage them to keep their mouths closed when swimming and to spit out any water that accidentally gets in.
Avoid Fresh Water Parks at Certain Times
The Centers for Disease Control advises that you avoid lakes and rivers during periods of extreme high temperate and low water levels. These conditions make stagnant bodies of water a breeding ground for infectious disease.
Don’t Dig in the Shallows
Shallow, sediment-filled areas often contain more bacteria and parasites than deeper bodies of water. Discourage children from digging in and playing in them.
Take Frequent Potty Breaks
Young children are especially vulnerable to “letting go” in the water, which encourages the spread of infection. Frequent potty breaks help prevent this. Visiting the restroom frequently will also give you a chance to rinse your child once more before going back in the water.
Also Use These Other Ways To Protect Yourself!
Eat a Healthy Diet
Though you might not have considered it, the type of diet you feed your family could be a matter of life and death. A diet filled with highly-processed food (junk food) severely weakens your immune system and leaves your child vulnerable to sometimes-fatal diseases.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your family right now is clean up your diet. Invest in more organic vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, fish, and healthy fats like butter and coconut oil while slowly tapering off junk food.
Use the Right Type of Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizers containing Triclosan can be dangerous for your health. Whenever possible, wash your hands with Triclosan-free soap and carry natural or ethanol-based hand sanitizer with you when you go out.
Invest in Immune-Boosting Supplements
Even when you do eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, you could have several vitamin deficiencies that weaken your immune system and leave you more susceptible to disease. Diamond Nutritionals’ Foundation Vitamins help fill these gaps with outstanding, high-quality nutrients.
- Vitamin A – 7,500 IU
- Vitamin C – 500 mg
- Vitamin D3 – 500 IU
- Vitamin E – 100 IU
- Vitamin K – 50 mcg
- Thiamine – 25 mg
- Riboflavin – 25 mg
- Niacin – 25 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 38 mg
- Folic Acid – 400 mcg
- Vitamin B12 – 500 mcg
- Biotin – 200 mcg
- Panthothenic Acid – 150 mg
- Calcium – 100 mg
- Iodine – 113 mcg
- Magnesium – 200 mg
- Zinc – 10 mg
- Selenium – 100 mcg
- Copper – 1 mg
- Manganese – 2.5 mg
- Chromium – 200 mcg
- Molybdenum – 25 mcg
- Potassium – 50 mg
- Choline Bitartrate USP – 50 mg
- Inositol – 50 mg
- Mixed Tocopherols – 50 mg
- Lipoic Acid – 25 mg
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine USP – 25 mg
- Rutin – 25 mg
- Lutein – 3 mg
- Boron – 1.5 mg
- Lycopene – 1 mg
- Vanadyl Sulfate Hydrate – 1 mg
Over 85% of Americans are severely vitamin D3 deficient, leading to an increased susceptibility to a wide variety of disease and conditions. This is why I recommend you add Diamond Nutritionals’ Vitamin D3 – 5,000 IUs to boost your immune system and prevent chronic conditions. Though many conventional physicians recommend taking 400 IUs per day, many recent studies have suggested that this amount is not nearly enough for most adults.
Since 85% of your immune system is located in your gut, it is very important you keep it healthy and balanced. Diamond Nutritionals’ Probiotic Formula contain 22 billion live, active cultures designed to reseed your gut, improve your digestion, and give your immune system a much-needed boost.
This complete formula contains lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus paracasei, bifidobacterium lactis, bifidobacterium bifidum, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus rhamnosus, saccharomyces boulardii.
Your summer should be about fun and adventure, not illness and disease. Just remember The Triangle of Death and practice the right grooming habits to avoid developing serious infection. Boost your immune system with a combination of dietary changes, practice water safety, and you’ll build warm summer memories for decades to come!