Nasal irrigations with saline solution have been shown to be useful in reducing the symptoms of Covid 19 infection and the risk of hospitalization in patients at high risk of a severe course following contagion from the new coronavirus. This is what emerges thanks to two recent scientific researches, the first was published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology by an Italian team from the Universities of Padua and Milan Bicocca (Spinato et al, Front Neurol, 2021), the second was instead published in the Ear, Nose and Throat Journal by an American team from Augusta University (Baxter et al, Ear Nose Throat J, 2022).
Why nasal irrigations are beneficial
The nasal mucosa is our first line of defense against the entry of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. This lining has the task of trapping the inhaled particles and then pushing them into the nasopharynx, hence the particles arrive at the gastrointestinal tract where they will be eliminated. A help to this defense mechanism is offered by nasal irrigations. In fact, these rinses, generally performed with saline solutions, help remove the mucus in which the particles are trapped, stimulate the action of the ciliary bodies, which have the task of pushing the mucus outwards, and reduce inflammation. Nasal irrigations are recommended as a daily hygiene practice and help in case of nasal affections, such as rhinitis and sinusitis. But what role do they play with regard to Covid 19? This question is legitimate since the new coronavirus infection, like other infections affecting the respiratory tract, occurs primarily in the nose, causing a large viral load from the very beginning of the infection. Today we are talking about two very recent scientific researches that have shown that nasal irrigations can help the body get rid of the virus faster.
Nasal irrigations against Covid 19, the studies
The American study showed that performing nasal irrigations with saline solution twice a day made it possible to reduce the risk of hospitalization by 8 times in patients with a high probability of a severe course. However, for this practice to be beneficial, it must be started, as the study notes, within 24 hours of positivity to the virus. Not only that, performing nasal irrigations regularly also allowed a faster healing with a faster resolution of symptoms. The Italian study, on the other hand, showed that performing nasal irrigations with saline solution immediately after testing positive for the virus allowed to reduce the symptoms of the new coronavirus infection in the nasal area. In particular, runny nose, sneezing and stuffy nose were reduced by almost 25% following treatment with nasal irrigations.
Conclusions and warnings
Therefore, nasal irrigations performed twice a day with saline solutions have proven to be a valid daily hygiene practice, to combat rhinitis, sinusitis but also viral infections such as the new coronavirus. However, nasal irrigations should not be seen as a cure for new coronavirus infection. These irrigations are rather an extra help that we can use to defend ourselves from this threat and reduce the risk of annoying symptoms and severe courses in case of contagion. Nasal irrigations do not take the place of other protective practices such as hand washing, avoiding crowds and, in case of infection, following the directions of your doctor. A final recommendation is the following. It is also important to take care of the hygiene of sprays and nasal washing devices since, in the event of a new coronavirus infection, these instruments would be contaminated after their use. Finally, it is always better to avoid DIY and buy ready-made saline solutions for washing the nose, in order to make sure that there are no bacteria in the liquid and to avoid an excessive addition of salt.