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Navigating the Saline Solution: Can Gargling Salt Water Reduce COVID Hospitalizations?

Emerging research suggests a simple yet potentially impactful measure to keep COVID-19 patients out of the hospital: gargling with salt water. A recent small-scale study found marked reductions in hospitalization rates among COVID-19 patients who gargled salt water four times daily for two weeks when compared to those who did not employ this method.

Dr. Jimmy Espinoza, a professor of maternal-fetal medicine at University of Texas Health in Houston and the study’s lead researcher, explained that the coronavirus is known to replicate in the upper respiratory tract. His study sought to investigate the potential of saline gargling as a viable intervention technique against this replication process. From 2020 to 2022, Espinoza and his team monitored the outcomes of 58 COVID-19 patients assigned to gargle either a high- or low-salt solution, comparing results with nearly 9,400 COVID-19 patients from the general population.

Preliminary findings, presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s annual meeting, unveiled significant differences in hospitalization rates. Only 19% and 21% of those gargling low-salt and high-salt dosage respectively were hospitalized, compared with a relatively high 59% hospitalization rate among those who didn’t gargle. Notably, the vaccination rates were similar across all groups.

While the evidence so far is promising, Espinoza emphasized the need for larger, more comprehensive studies that also examine how gargling fares against different virus strains. Gargling, he adds, must not be viewed as a substitute for vaccinations or antiviral drugs.

Yet not all experts are convinced. Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious disease specialist at North Shore University Hospital, raised concerns over the efficacy of such a treatment, stressing the need for more research before endorsing this potentially influential approach.

This topical research underlines the continuous evolution in understanding and managing COVID-19. For in-depth information on COVID-19, health professionals are encouraged to consult resources from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the promising results, it’s important to remember that hospital infections prevention protocols should continue to prioritize vaccinations and established treatment options.


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