In a recent study, twice-daily nasal irrigation has been found to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. While the study in question has some pretty significant flaws…including a small sample size and lack of a suitable control group—the researchers “are probably on the right track,” said ENT specialist Mas Takashima at Houston Methodist Hospital, who was not associated with the study. “Nasal irrigation is something we routinely recommend for our patients who have any type of nose or sinus infection.”
This includes colds, flu, and allergies, for which there is a a number of proofs that nasal irrigation can be an effective way to reduce the severity of symptoms. By this logic, it makes sense that nasal irrigation could be a strategy to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
Nasal irrigation may be helpful for upper respiratory tract infections
Nasal irrigation works by using a saline solution to flush the sinuses. This rinse has a double benefit: it gets rid of all the mucus, which will help you feel better, while also getting rid of any viruses or bacteria that are there. Since many viruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections, including COVID-19, tend to grow in the sinuses, removing them with nasal irrigation can help reduce overall viral load, which is known to relieve symptoms. . gravity.
“Because the SARS-CoV-2 virus replicates in the nose and continues to replicate in the nose, theoretically it should work,” said Catherine Troisi, epidemiologist at UTHealth School of Public Health who was not associated with the study.
Clearing mucus also has the added benefit of reducing potential secondary infections because mucus provides an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. “If you have an open sinus that’s constantly circulating, it doesn’t get infected as often as something that’s blocked,” Takashima said.
Tips for effective nasal irrigation
In the COVID-19 study, the researchers asked participants to perform nasal irrigation with sodium bicarbonate solution or iodine-added saline, using a pressurized nasal irrigation system, where you inject the solution into nostrils. The researchers found no difference between the two in terms of results, the main limitation being that it was a very small sample of 79 participants in total.
In practice, it is reasonable to assume that most people will benefit from using a simple saline solution, which they can either buy premixed in small packets or Craft themselves using a mixture of salt and baking soda. It is the standard solution that can help with allergies, colds, and flu.
For a nasal irrigation system, the options are either to use a neti pot, where you pour the solution into a nostril, or a nasal irrigation bottle, where you inject the solution into a nostril. Both of these products should be available at your local pharmacy or can be ordered online.
It’s important to use clean water, preferably distilled or boiled, as you don’t want any harmful bacteria in it, but you want to avoid using plain the water. “It hurts when there’s no salt in there,” Takashima said. To avoid contamination, be sure to wash the bottle after each use and change it every few months or after illness. “If you have an active sinus infection, you’ll want to get rid of this bottle,” once you’ve recovered, Takashima said, because there may still be lingering bacteria or viruses.
There is also a learning curve associated with nasal irrigation. “It feels funny at first,” Troisi said. To understand things, it may be useful to look youtube videos on proper technique and take it slow at first. In terms of frequency, Takashima advises adjusting to comfort, which could mean a few times a week for people with mild allergies or a few times a day during illness.
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