In a recent study, researchers examined the impact of gargling and nasal rinsing with a saline solution on Covid symptoms and hospitalization rates. The findings revealed that individuals who rinsed their mouth with salt water had up to a 40% lower chance of being admitted to a hospital compared to those who did not.
The study, conducted by Dr Jimmy Espinoza, an obstetrics and gynecology professor at the University of Texas, aimed to explore whether gargling and nasal rinsing could alleviate respiratory symptoms associated with Covid. The research team evaluated 9,398 adults aged between 18 and 65 who had tested positive for Covid via PCR test. Out of this group, 58 participants were instructed to follow either a low-dose or high-dose saline regimen mixed with warm water. They gargled and performed nasal rinsing four times a day for 14 days.
Nasal rinsing involves using a saline solution to clear mucus and allergens from the nasal passages. The participants on the low-dose regimen experienced a substantial decrease in hospitalizations, with a rate of only 18.5%. The high-dose group had a hospitalization rate of 21.4%. Both rates were considerably lower compared to the control group, which had a hospitalization rate of 58.8%.
Although the exact reason behind the reduced hospitalization rates is unknown, Dr Zach Rubin, an allergist and spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), suggests that gargling and rinsing may help eliminate the virus from the sinuses, therefore reducing the risk of it spreading to the lungs and causing pneumonia, a common cause of hospitalization.
The study excluded patients with chronic hypertension and focused on individuals who were obese, as excess salt intake can raise blood pressure and obesity increases the risk of complications. The study's findings align with previous studies that indicate gargling and nasal rinsing can alleviate symptoms of respiratory infections and help remove viruses from the body.
Further research is needed to determine the efficacy of gargling and nasal rinsing in vaccinated individuals and those with normal body mass indexes. However, given the low risk and potential benefits of this intervention, it may be worth considering as part of preventive measures against severe Covid symptoms.
This study was presented at the ACAAI Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California and adds to the growing body of research on simple and accessible interventions for the management of Covid.