This one weird trick really can help cut down your viral load risk during the early stages of infection with Covid-19!
Studies from China, Taiwan and Japan back up this no cost way to reduce initial viral load, which is a predictor of the severity of the disease.
Taiwan experienced a SARS outbreak during which the importance of wearing masks was emphasized, which could reduce the amount of virus inhaled, thereby reducing the initial viral load. Viral load is a direct factor in the severity of Covid-19 in the patient. It is literally the number of the virus in human tissue.
Therefore, the mask policy was implemented early in Taiwan during the current pandemic, and this has resulted in a relatively lower number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Several countries, however, have high numbers of COVID-19 infection and deaths, especially owing to the shortage of masks and medical protection equipment.
In the current COVID-19 pandemic, the most suggested personal protection habits include wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and maintaining social distance. For both general and high-risk populations, including medical staff and people who are in quarantine, development of new preventive measures to reduce the incidence or at least the disease severity of COVID-19 are urgently needed.
One study from China showed that the higher SARS-CoV-2 RNA load in the nasopharynx was directly related to the severity of the disease. Reducing the amount of virus in the body tissue at the initial stage of infection might positively influence the course of the disease. Thus, throat gargling, an ancient therapeutic method, might be potentially useful in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.
A randomized trial study in Japan showed that throat gargling with tap water 3 times a day significantly reduced the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection (UTRI) by 36%. Another randomized trial study in England showed that nasal cavity irrigation and throat gargling with hypotonic saline solution during the 48 hours after the symptom onset in patients with UTRI significantly reduced the period of illness by 1.9 days, the use of medications by 36%, household contact transmission by 35%, and the viral load significantly.
Possible reasons for the effectiveness of throat gargling may be that the physical washing agent used in throat gargling causes the shedding of the virus and infected cells or causes the chemical inactivation of the virus. The concentration of chlorine in tap water in Japan reaches >0.1 mg/L and up to 0.5–0.8 mg/L in some areas, which is enough to ensure inactivation of the virus. Chloride ions in hypertonic saline have been shown to inhibit virus replication and are used by cells to produce hypochlorous acid to exert antiviral effects.
Although throat gargling helps to clean the mouth and throat, still no method has been developed to clean the respiratory tract.