January 31, 2023

Juan Kabayan

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Is Nasal Irrigation More Important Than Hand-Washing?

By now, you probably understand the importance of hand-washing to prevent the spread of infectious illness. But did you know flushing your sinuses might be an even better way to inhibit the progression of a viral illness such as COVID-19? In an April 20, 2020, article,1 Best Life features the recommendations of Dr. Amy Baxter, a pediatric emergency medicine physician in Atlanta, Georgia.

Nasal irrigation, she says, is a rarely discussed strategy that can help reduce the progression of illness in those who have tested positive for COVID-19 infection. In an April 2, 2020, response2 to a BMJ paper about the lack of personal protection equipment on COVID-19 frontlines, professor Robert Matthews also brought up the importance and potential usefulness of oropharyngeal washing to protect health care workers from infection. As reported by Best Life:3

“Nasal irrigation, or a nasal wash, has long been considered an effective way to remove viruses or bacteria from sinus cavities.

According to Baxter, recent clinical trials show that nasal irrigation reduces the duration and symptoms for other viral illnesses like flu and the common cold, though it hasn’t yet been studied for COVID-19. Still, she has multiple reasons for believing that this approach can be effective in preventing coronavirus from worsening in a sick patient.”

As noted by Baxter, researchers have found that the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 tends to be heaviest in the sinuses and nasal cavity. Regularly rinsing your sinuses therefore makes sense since it would help clear out the pathogen and prevent it from gaining a strong foothold and migrating into your lungs.