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Study finds that gargling solution eases sore throat in COVID-19 patients

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SORE THROAT, the most common symptom of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), can be alleviated with antiseptic gargle containing both benzydamine hydrochloride (HCl) and chlorhexidine gluconate, according to a new study by the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center.

The results of the research conducted from November 2021 to February 2022 showed that 70% of 219 adult Filipino patients with COVID-19 were relieved of sore throat symptoms after using Difflam-C, a locally available gargle, at least once a day.

“Sore throat normally lasts seven to ten days untreated, but the intervention shortened the duration of sore throat to five days. Some even felt better within 30 minutes of gargling,” said Dr. Jennifer M. Nailes, lead investigator of the study, at an Aug. 10 media briefing.

Because of the anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anesthetic, and antiseptic properties in benzydamine HCl and chlorhexidine gluconate, Difflam-C can relieve the throat discomfort of those who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

However, this doesn’t mean that the gargle can reduce one’s viral load, since the study focused only on the resolution of sore throat, clarified Dr. Roberto Salvino, medical director of iNova Pharma Philippines, Inc., manufacturer of Difflam-C.

“There’s no specific regimen or guideline in terms of the treatment of sore throat in COVID-19,” he said. “It depends on the doctor prescribing it and at the same time on the patient, because majority might have self-medicated.”

He added that gargling solution alone can’t treat a patient, as they are usually also prescribed paracetamol for fever and multivitamins to strengthen the immune system.

Participants of the study were instructed to gargle 15 milliliters of Difflam-C for 30 seconds at three-hour intervals for the first day, and at least once a day for the next six days.

“We asked everybody to still gargle until the end of the seven days, because there are occasions where throat pain can recur,” said Dr. Nailes.

Getting vaccinated, observing health protocols, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be standard procedure, to avoid getting COVID-19 in the first place, she added.

“You should take good care of yourself, and not just your throat,” she said. — Brontë H. Lacsamana