Simple sinus rinse could curb COVID deaths, MCG experts find

Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Many health experts are concerned about this year’s flu season being worse than previous years.

A map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Georgia with a high level of spread of the flu virus. South Carolina has a moderate level.

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia say their study shows how nasal irrigation, like a Neti Pot or something similar, may be able to help.

We talked to them about how their study involving COVID patients may be able to help beyond just the pandemic.

The days of long COVID lines and painful COVID tests are likely behind us. For Drs. Amy Baxter and Richard Schwartz with MCG, their job is just beginning.

“Dr. Baxter had come to me with a conceptual idea to use an inexpensive over-the-counter treatment for preventing hospitalization and potentially death in COVID patients,” said Schwartz.

It’s called nasal irrigation, using a Neti Pot or Navage. You mix half a teaspoon each of salt and baking soda into boiled or distilled water and rinse your nose out.

Baxter said: “If we used something like saline irrigation that could flush the virus out, but enhance the immune system and the barriers in the nose since that’s where the virus was going in, that would be the place we would want to concentrate our treatment.”

Schwartz said: “What we found was really quite remarkable.”

Using nasal irrigation twice a day, their study followed 79 subjects, aged 55 and older, for 28 days who just tested positive for COVID.

Baxter said: “Having a normal level of saline and hydration in our nose is going to be protective from an aerosol virus-like COVID.”

In the CDC control group, 9.3 percent were hospitalized, and 1.5 percent died.

MCG’s study using irrigation found that 1.3 percent needed hospitalization, and no one died.

“Billions of individuals could have survived COVID if they started this treatment early on,” said Schwartz.

It’s a method that’s been used for over 3,000 years and the results of MCG’s study were known in December 2020.

“Because of resistance to a simple non-pharm logical treatment, it was very hard to get the additional information we needed to get this published,” said Baxter. “To say that it was frustrating and we lost sleep and that there was anger is an understatement. So many people died unnecessarily.”