Saline nasal irrigation and gargling in COVID-19: a multidisciplinary review of effects on viral load, mucosal dynamics, and patient outcomes

International Network on Saline Clinical Use

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With unrelenting SARS-CoV-2 variants, additional COVID-19 mitigation strategies are needed. Oral and nasal saline irrigation (SI) is a traditional approach for respiratory infections/diseases. As a multidisciplinary network with expertise/experience with saline, we conducted a narrative review to examine mechanisms of action and clinical outcomes associated with nasal SI, gargling, spray, or nebulization in COVID-19. SI was found to reduce SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal loads and hasten viral clearance. Other mechanisms may involve inhibition of viral replication, bioaerosol reduction, improved mucociliary clearance, modulation of ENaC, and neutrophil responses. Prophylaxis was documented adjunctive to personal protective equipment. COVID-19 patients experienced significant symptom relief, while overall data suggest lower hospitalization risk. We found no harm and hence recommend SI use, as safe, inexpensive, and easy-to-use hygiene measure, complementary to hand washing or mask-wearing. In view of mainly small studies, large well-controlled or surveillance studies can help to further validate the outcomes and to implement its use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1161881
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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