According to research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in early November 2023, gargling and rinsing your nasal passages with a simple saline solution can ease the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 and reduce your risk of hospitalization.
The results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. As reported in an ACAAI press release,1 both high- and low-dose saline regimens, consisting of gargling and nasal rinsing four times a day for 14 days, were associated with significantly lower hospitalization rates for COVID-19 infections compared to the reference population.
Simple Technique to Lower Your Hospitalization Risk
Between 2020 and 2022, 55 individuals between the ages of 18 and 65 who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection were randomly assigned to use either a high- or low-dose saline solution. Outcomes were compared to a reference group of 9,398 patients who also had COVID but didn't gargle or rinse their nasal passages. All had similar rates of vaccination, including controls.
The low-dose group used 2.13 grams of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water, while the high-dose group used 6 grams of salt. They were instructed to gargle and rinse their nasal passages with the solution four times a day for 14 days.
The primary outcomes included frequency and duration of symptoms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Secondary outcomes included hospital or ICU admission, mechanical ventilatory support and death.
Primary and secondary outcomes were very similar between the two treatment groups, but significantly lower than the control group. The hospitalization rate among those using the low-dose saline regimen was 18.5%. In the high-dose group, it was 21.4%. The reference population, meanwhile, had a hospitalization rate of 58.8%. No significant differences were noted in the other outcomes. Co-author Dr. Jimmy Espinoza commented on the results:
"We found that both saline regimens appear to be associated with lower hospitalization rates compared to controls in SARS-CoV-2 infections2 … It's a very simple intervention that is universally available, cheap and easy to use. I think it can make a difference, especially when it comes to comfort."3