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This One Habit is Why Thailand Has So Few COVID Cases, Doctor Says

Best Life logo Best Life 5/17/2020 Colby Hall
a group of people around each other © Provided by Best Life

The coronavirus pandemic has had global reach, affecting most developed nations within weeks of it leaving the Wuhan province of China from which it emanated. But curiously, nearby Thailand has enjoyed an incredibly low number of cases, which has led Dr. Amy Baxter to believe that this one personal hygiene habit is the reason: nasal irrigation.

Yesterday, Thailand authorities announced zero new coronavirus cases, and zero deaths as a result of COVID-19 while announcing plans to reopen the Southeast Asian country. Since the outbreak started, there have only been 3,025 reported cases of the coronavirus in Thailand, leading to only 56 deaths. These numbers are stunningly low considering that there are 70 million individuals that live in this favorite tourist destination.

Why are these numbers so low? Well, a vast majority of Thai people regularly practice nasal irrigation or the regular cleansing of their sinus with neti pots. And according to Dr. Baxter, that's made a huge impact.

In a recent interview with Best Life, Baxter noted the total deaths in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam are particularly low. "Yes, they wear masks, and yes, they bow and don't shake hands, but the biggest difference between them and places like South Korea or Japan is that nasal irrigation is practiced by 80 percent of people," she says. Laos has had less than 20 reported cases, and Vietnam roughly 300.

After considerable research and talking to colleagues who focus on both ear, nose, and throat and pulmonary treatment, the  CEO and founder of Pain Care Labs,  added that she "believe[s] strongly that nasal irrigation is the key to reducing COVID-19 progression of symptoms and infectivity."

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.  "SARS-CoV2's viral load is heaviest in sinuses/nasal cavity."

There is a growing belief in medical communities that the viral load of COVID-19 is a significant variable in whether an individual gets sick or not.  Baxter explained how the buildup of viral particles in one's sinus can inevitably lead to respiratory illness, but flushing it out once or twice a day "gives the immune system time to figure out what it needs while reducing the enemy."

For anyone exposed to or positive for COVID-19, Baxter offers the following specific self-treatment:

"Do a hypertonic nasal irrigation with 1/2 tsp. povidone-iodine in the a.m. and in the evening with 8 oz. boiled lukewarm tap water, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and 1 tsp. salt per cup H20."

According to Dr. Baxter, there are now nine new registered trials trying this idea, including at Stanford, University of Kentucky, NYU Langone, University of Pittsburgh, and Vanderbilt among others.

In short, regular flushing of one's sinuses in the manner described above could be an effective way to keep the COVID-19 contagion from building up and entering your lungs and causing potentially fatal respiratory problems.

Related video: Fear of COVID Exposure at Hospitals May Be Keeping People from Needed Treatment [via Inside Edition]

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