Infectious disease experts who were not involved in the study described the findings as interesting, but said more research is needed. They stressed that gargles and nasal washes should never be used as substitutes for vaccination or treatment with medications, such as Paxlovid.
- The study followed 55 adults with Covid who were assigned to use a low or high dose of saline to gargle and rinse their nasal passages. One dose was equivalent to about a third of a teaspoon of salt, and a higher dose was equivalent to about a full teaspoon of salt, both dissolved in eight ounces of warm water.
- Participants were asked to gargle and rinse their nasal passages four times a day for 14 days. The participants were compared to a reference group of 9,398 people who also had Covid but had not been instructed to gargle or rinse their nasal passages.
- The study showed that people who were instructed to gargle and rinse their nose had significantly lower hospitalization rates than the reference group, suggesting they had less severe symptoms. There were no differences in hospitalization rates between the low- and high-saline regimens.
The findings support evidence from previous small studies suggesting that saline irrigation of the mouth and nose can reduce Covid viral load and help clear it from the throat and nasal passages.
The trial results were published during the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Anaheim, California, and have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Infectious disease experts said more studies are needed in larger patient populations.
“It’s an interesting concept and idea, and a potential complementary preventative along with other non-pharmaceutical interventions,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Children’s Hospital Medicine Center. from Texas. Vaccine development. He did not participate in the investigation.
“However, gargling with salt water should still be considered secondary to the importance of having high or adequate levels of virus-neutralizing antibodies from the Covid vaccine,” he said.
The study excluded subjects with chronic hypertension, and patients with high blood pressure should not gargle with salt water because they could inadvertently swallow some of the salt, said Dean Blumberg, chief of UC’s division of pediatric infectious diseases. Davis Health, also not involved in the investigation. Excess salt (specifically the sodium in salt) can narrow and harden blood vessels, raising blood pressure.
The best way to gargle and rinse your nose
Espinoza said he conceived the idea for the study after reading reports that gargling with salt water helped prevent respiratory tract infections among Hajj pilgrims, and wondered if it could have an impact on Covid.
If people want to try it, they can buy a sterile saline solution. To use household water, he recommends boiling the water first and then letting it cool until it is lukewarm. Boiling water first is important “because the nasal passages are prone to infection” due to contaminants that may be in the water, he said.
He suggested alternating the gargle with the nasal rinse. Take eight ounces of water and separate the gargling water from the nasal rinse water. Gargle for one minute and then swish the rest of the water down your nose with a neti bowl. Then gargle again. And if you can tolerate it, pass the remaining water through your nose a second time.
He said, “The amount of nasal rinsing really depends on how much you can stand because it can be uncomfortable.”
If you don’t have a neti pot, you can put some water in your clean hands, close one nostril with your finger and pour the water into the other, then switch. The entire process should take no more than five minutes at a time, she said.
It also suggests that people use the lowest dose of salt. “I actually tried it myself when I got infected,” he said of his two fights, neither of which resulted in hospitalization. “I tried to compare both and found the high dose to be a little uncomfortable.” But he said: “It really helped a lot with congestion. “I could breathe better and rest better.”
Hospitalization rates in both groups studied were unusually high, likely due to demographics, more Covid risk factors, and the fact that overall vaccination rates in all groups were relatively low.
It is not known whether gargling and nasal rinses would have a similar effect in most vaccinated patients. In this study, researchers found that about 20 percent of garglers were hospitalized, compared to about a 60 percent hospitalization rate in the reference group.
Additionally, the research did not have a placebo-blind “control” group: that is, a study group in which some participants received an alternative treatment or no treatment.
Matthew Rank, chair of allergy, asthma and clinical immunology at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, who was not part of the study, He said the lack of a placebo control group limits the conclusions that can be drawn from the research. He said he still would not recommend the practice either to treat Covid in infected patients or to prevent it among healthy people.
“I don’t think the current evidence is strong enough to recommend it for infection,” he said. “Although patients might choose to do this, as the harm from trying is likely to be low.”
Espinoza acknowledged the limitations of the research, but noted that it would be difficult to have a true placebo control group because participants would know if they were gargling with salt water.
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