In an interesting study, researchers have confirmed that the common remedy of gargling with salt water may help improve respiratory symptoms and fight Covid, helping lower hospitalisation rates.The study being presented at this year’s American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting held in California determined that both a low and high-dose saline regimen appeared to be associated with lower hospitalisation rates compared to controls in SARS-CoV-2 infections.
The team at the University of Texas between 2020 and 2022 randomly selected 58 individuals aged 18-65 years with positive PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 infection to undergo low or high-dose saline regimens for 14 days.
They were compared with a reference group of 9,398 people, who also had Covid but hadn’t been instructed to gargle or rinse nasal passages.The hospitalisation rates in the low- (18.5 per cent) and high- (21.4 per cent) saline regimens were significantly lower than in the reference population (58.8 per cent). There was no difference in hospitalisation rates in the low and high-saline regimens.
“Our goal was to examine saline nasal irrigation and gargling for possible association to improved respiratory symptoms associated with coronavirus infection,” says Jimmy Espinoza, from the varsity.
“We found that both saline regimens appear to be associated with lower hospitalisation rates compared to controls in SARS-CoV-2 infections. We hope more studies can be done to further investigate the association,” he added.
The new study supports evidence from previous small studies that suggest that saline irrigation of the mouth and nose can reduce Covid viral load, helping remove it from the throat and nasal passages.
While infectious-disease experts have lauded the findings, they said it warrants more research and stressed that gargling and nasal washing should never be used as a substitute for vaccination or treatment with medications.
“It’s an interesting concept and idea, and a potential adjunct preventative along with other non-pharmaceutical interventions,” Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine not involved in the research, was quoted as saying to Washington Post.
“However, gargling with salt water should still be considered secondary relative to the importance of having high or adequate levels of virus-neutralising antibodies from covid vaccinations,” he said.