The Effectiveness of Saltwater Gargling on the Prevention of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Upper respiratory tract infections (URI) are prevalent in the United States. URIs can also be debilitating and costly. The most common etiology for an URI is viral, and there are currently no antiviral medications for the common cold. Therefore, cost-effective preventative measures are essential in the prevention of URIs. This literature review intends to compare the few studies evaluating the effectiveness of saltwater gargle for preventing URIs. The goals of this review include commenting on the potential for a saltwater gargle in preventing URIs, shortcomings of the few studies performed and recommendations for further research in evaluating saltwater gargle as an effective prevention method. This review looks explicitly at three studies evaluating the effectiveness of saltwater gargling and the prevention of URIs. Conclusions derived from this review include both physiological and clinical evidence of the potential for saltwater gargling in URI prevention. The first two studies demonstrate patient-derived evidence for saltwater gargling, potentially providing a decreased risk of URI when used preventatively. The third study demonstrates the potential for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in evaluating the effectiveness of saltwater gargling in reducing the duration of illness. Additionally, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, cost-effective treatment options targeting viral URIs, such as SARS-CoV-2, warrant further evaluation and discussion.