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Got COVID? Flushing Out Nasal Passages Could Cut Severity

Last Updated: September 14, 2022.

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Battling COVID and eager to do anything that will limit you to a mild infection?

Grab a neti pot, a new study advises.

Flushing your sinus cavity twice daily with a mild saline solution can significantly reduce a COVID patient's risk of hospitalization and death, researchers report.

"We found an 8.5-fold reduction in hospitalizations and no fatalities compared to our controls," said senior author Dr. Richard Schwartz. He's chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

"Both of those are pretty significant endpoints," Schwartz said in a college news release.

For the study, 79 COVID patients self-administered nasal irrigation using saline water mixed with either povidone-iodine (the brown antiseptic used in surgery) or baking soda. They started doing this within 24 hours of testing positive.

In all, 1.3% of the participants needed hospitalization and none died, compared with about 11% of people from a matched control group who either landed in the hospital or died.

"The reduction from 11% to 1.3% as of November 2021 would have corresponded in absolute terms to over 1 million fewer older Americans requiring admission," the researchers concluded. If the findings are confirmed in other studies, the potential reduction in illness and death worldwide could be profound, they said.

The researchers suspect that saline -- salt water -- inhibits the COVID virus' ability to infect cells in the nasal cavity, mouth and lungs.

Saline irrigation also appears to help limit the severity of patients' symptoms. Patients who more diligently stuck to the twice-daily schedule reported quicker resolution of symptoms, the researchers said.

This technique can be used at home by mixing a half-teaspoon each of salt and baking soda into a cup of boiled or distilled water, then flushing out the nasal cavity with a sinus rinse bottle.

The findings were recently published in the Ear, Nose & Throat Journal.

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more about neti pots.

SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, news release, Sept. 13, 2022


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