In a recent study, nasal irrigation twice daily was found to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Although the study in question had some pretty major flaws…including a small sample size and lack of an adequate control group—researchers are “probably on the right track,” said ENT specialist Mas Takashima Houston Methodist Hospital, who was not associated with the study. “Nasal irrigation is something we routinely recommend to our patients who have any type of nose or sinus infection.”
This includes colds, flu, and allergies, for which there is a certain amount of evidence 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 clear the sinuses. This wash has a double benefit: it removes all the mucus, which will help you feel better, while also removing any viruses or bacteria that may be present. Since many of the viruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections, including COVID-19, tend to proliferate in the sinuses, getting rid of them through nasal irrigation can help lower your overall viral load, which is known to help with the 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, an epidemiologist at UTHealth School of Public Health who was not associated with the study.
Removing mucus also has the added benefit of reducing any potential secondary infection, as 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 Study COVID-19, the researchers had participants do nasal irrigation with sodium bicarbonate solution or saline solution with added iodine, using a pressurized nasal irrigation system, where you draw the solution into the nostrils. The researchers found no difference between the two in terms of results, with the main limitation being that it was a very small sample size of 79 total participants.
Practically speaking, it is a reasonable assumption that most people will benefit from using a simple saline solution, which they can buy premixed in small packets or do themselves using a mixture of salt and baking soda. This is the standard solution that can help with allergies, colds, and flu
For a nasal irrigation system, the options are to use a neti pot, where you pour the solution into one nostril, or a nasal irrigation bottle, where you draw the solution into one nostril. Both 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, but you want to avoid using plain water “It hurts when there’s no salt,” Takashima said. To avoid contamination, be sure to wash the bottle after each use and change it every few months or after an illness. “If you have an active sinus infection, you’ll want to get rid of that blister,” Takashima said, since there may still be lingering bacteria or viruses.
There is also a learning curve associated with nasal irrigation. “It feels fun at first,” Troisi said. To understand things, it can help to look Youtube videos in proper technique, and go slowly at first. As for frequency, Takashima advises adjusting for comfort, which might be a couple of times a week for people with mild allergies or a couple of times a day during an illness.