On his blog, Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola wonders why doctors aren’t telling their patients with COVID-19 that if they rinse their nasal passages within 24 hours of a COVID-19 diagnosis, they have an 8.5 times better chance of avoiding hospitalization. He writes:
Rinsing your nasal passages with a saline solution within 24 hours of a COVID-19 diagnosis could reduce your chances of being hospitalized by 8.5-fold.1 Why hasn’t your doctor told you about this? And why haven’t public health agencies shared the good news with the public that they can significantly reduce their risk of severe COVID-19 with a simple nasal wash?
The practically free solution is just too inexpensive. Unlike Pfizer’s Paxlovid, which was granted emergency use authorization to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in December 20212 — and is slated to make the company $22 billion in profits in 20223 — there’s little money to be made by promoting the ancient practice of nasal lavage.
Further, if its benefits are confirmed, widespread usage could have drastically altered the course of the pandemic, rendering the entire pandemic response completely unnecessary.4
Simple Way to Reduce Your Risk of COVID Hospitalization
Nasal irrigation, sometimes referred to as nasal lavage, is a relatively popular method for relieving cold symptoms, often via the use of a neti pot. The practice is an ancient technique with roots in the traditional Indian health care system, however.
Irrigating the nasal passages with saline is used in traditional yoga practice, where it’s known as jala-neti.5 It involves the use of a saline solution in teapot-like device, used to flush out the nose and sinus cavities. After inserting the end of the pot in one side of your nose, the solution moves through your sinuses and out the other nostril. A bulb syringe or squeeze bottle can also be used.
In the U.S., nasal irrigation continues to be an adjunctive therapy for upper respiratory conditions and is currently prescribed after nasal and sinus surgeries.6 The featured study, which was published in the Ear, Nose & Throat journal in August 2022, involved 79 participants 55 and older who were diagnosed with COVID-19.7
They were randomly selected to use either one-half teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (alkalinization) with an isotonic normal saline (0.9% saline) rinse twice a day for 14 days or to include 2.5 milliliters (roughly a half-teaspoon) of povidone-iodine (PVP-I) 10% solution (antimicrobial) for the same period. The researchers then followed up with each group 14 days after their final intervention.
Those who used nasal irrigation were more than 8.5 times less likely to be hospitalized compared to the national rate, the study found. A dose-response relationship was also found. Among those who irrigated twice daily, 80% had zero or one mild symptom, compared to 42% of those who irrigated less often.
Further, only 13% of those who used nasal irrigation still had symptoms at day 28, compared to nearly 50% of those in another study, who had continued symptoms for 21 days or more.8 According to the researchers:9
“Our results support that pressurized nasal irrigation reduces the likelihood of hospitalization in high-risk COVID-19 + outpatients, suggesting a safe and over the counter measure with potentially vital public health impact.
The reduction from 11 to 1.3% as of November 2021 would have corresponded in absolute terms to over 1,000,000 fewer older Americans requiring admission. If confirmed in other studies, the potential reduction in morbidity and mortality worldwide could be profound.”
Senior study author Dr. Richard Schwartz noted, “We found an 8.5-fold reduction in hospitalizations and no fatalities compared to our controls. Both of those are pretty significant endpoints.”10 In addition to the featured study, other research also supports the use of nasal irrigation as a “useful add-on to first-line interventions for COVID-19.”11
Nasal Wash Findings Render COVID Response Useless
Dr. Amy Baxter, featured study author and emergency medicine physician at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, said she got inspiration for the study from visits to Southeast Asia, where nasal irrigation is used daily as part of personal hygiene. She explained:12
“What we say in the emergency room and surgery is the solution to pollution is dilution … If you have a contaminant, the more you flush it out, the better you are able to get rid of dirt, viruses, and anything else … One of our thoughts was: If we can rinse out some of the virus within 24 hours of them testing positive, then maybe we can lower the severity of that whole trajectory.”
That indeed turned out to be the case, a finding that should not come entirely as a surprise. In 2019, researchers with Khon Kaen University in Thailand similarly found that nasal irrigation was an effective treatment for nasal disease, helping to clear nasal secretion, improve nasal congestion and improve sinus pain, headache, taste and smell, and even sleep quality.13
Read more here.
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