Entering the fourth year of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals infected with the virus continue to seek effective remedies to manage respiratory symptoms and avoid hospitalization. A recent study introduced at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting has shed light on the potential benefits of gargling salt water to treat COVID infections.
The study, led by Sebastian Espinoza, focused on the age group of 18-65 years with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections via positive PCR tests. Over a span from 2020 to 2022, participants were randomly assigned to either a low-dose or high-dose regimen of gargling salt water for a period of 14 days.
The low-dose solution consisted of 2.13 grams of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water, while the high-dose contained 6 grams of salt. Participants engaged in gargling and nasal rinsing four times daily throughout the two-week period.
The primary focus of the study was to measure the frequency and duration of COVID-19 symptoms after gargling salt water. Additionally, secondary outcomes included rates of hospital or ICU admissions, the need for mechanical ventilation, and mortality rates.
Notably, individuals with chronic hypertension or those involved in other interventional studies were excluded from the research to maintain the integrity of the results.
The study observed 58 individuals, with 27 on the low-dose and 28 on the high-dose saline regimen. Just three of the participants were lost to follow-up.
The study found no significant difference in primary or secondary outcomes between the low and high salt water gargling groups.
However, when compared to the larger reference population of 9,398 individuals with positive COVID infections, those on both salt water gargling regimens had significantly lower hospitalization rates. The numbers were 18.5% for low-dose and 21.4% for high-dose users, versus 58.8% for the reference population.
Jimmy Espinoza, MD is co-author of the study. He emphasized their objective to investigate the association between saline nasal irrigation and gargling and the reduction in respiratory symptoms due to COVID infection.
The lower hospitalization rates observed in participants following the saline regimens compared to the control group are promising. This finding invites further research to expand on these results and explore the full potential of saline treatments in the management of COVID-19 symptoms.
The study presented at the ACAAI meeting offers a potential home-based intervention for individuals battling COVID-19. While the saline solutions did not significantly impact the duration or frequency of symptoms, their association with reduced hospitalization rates presents a significant development in home treatment options for COVID-19.
Further research is needed to understand the scope of saline solutions’ benefits fully, paving the way for more comprehensive care for those infected with the virus.
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