Gargling to Prevent Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Gargling to Prevent Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTI)

Usually, gargling can relieve symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). However, two studies show that gargling can also prevent and lower the incidence of URTI effectively.

A group of researchers (the Department of Public Health and International Health, Kyoto University School of Public Health, Kyoto, Japan) did a study in 2002-2003 and analysed in 2003-2004. They selected 387 healthy people, aged between 18 and 65 years. The researchers randomly grouped them into three groups. One was selected as the control group and the other two groups were requested to gargle at least three times a day with diluted povidone-iodine and water respectively. All participants were followed for 60 days. The relative frequency of occurrence of first URTI was 0.26 episodes per 30 person-days in the control group. It was 0.24 episodes per 30 person-days in the group, who gargled with povidone-iodine, and 0.17 episodes per 30 person-days with water. Therefore, the researchers gave their conclusion that simple water gargling could prevent URTI effectively.

Another group of researchers (the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Japan) published their study in 2012. They selected 19,595 children, aged two to six years, from 145 nursery schools in Fukuoka, Japan and observed for 20 days. They requested the children to gargle at least once daily. Incidence of fever was significantly lower (odds ratio = 0.32) among children, who gargled with green tea. The odds ratio was 0.46 for functional water and 0.7 for tap water. Gargling lowered the incidence of fever by one-third in this study. The researchers came to a conclusion; gargling could be effective to prevent febrile illnesses in children.

How does gargling work? Gargling can wash away the secretions (mucus) with bacteria, fungi, and viruses from your throat.


(Photo courtesy: Emran Kassim)

About the author
Dr. Nalaka Priyantha is the founder and author of 'DRN Health'. He currently works at the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka as a senior medical officer. He is blogging about healthy living since 2012.
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