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Most living organisms, including humans, produce nitric oxide in small quantities.
Doctors not only harness the gas to produce Viagra but for treating babies with heart defects and other conditions that respond to dilating blood vessels.
That’s where the current research comes in.
Some doctors believe nitric oxide – not to be confused with the anaesthetic nitrous oxide or the foul-smelling, brown, noxious pollutant nitrogen oxide – could provide the key to treating coronavirus.
Dilating the blood vessels helps oxygen flow throughout the body, and tests are underway to see if patients suffering from coronavirus who receive nitric oxide regularly for two weeks recover better than those who do not undergo the tests.
The hope is patients taking nitric oxide will have less trouble breathing.
Nitric oxide is already proven to act as an antiviral against other coronaviruses that attack the respiratory system, overpowering the lungs and often leading to pneumonia.
The go-ahead for the research has been given in three US states and three European countries.
The aim is to see if breathing in nitric oxide from a non-intrusive device will keep patients off ventilators and under lighter sedation.
Separately doctors are also seeking to establish if subjecting medical staff on coronavirus wards to short bursts of the gas at the start and end of shifts helps to stop them from contracting the virus.
The first tests are already taking place at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
“We have tremendous confidence this therapy will alter the devastating effects of CoVID-19 but we must test it,” said Dr Keith Scott, professor of paediatrics, surgery and medicine at Louisiana State University Health – Shreveport.
“If results show promise, and since this gas is already FDA approved, widespread use could begin immediately.”
No one is hailing nitric oxide as a miracle cure in the effort to beat coronavirus.
But if the tests go well, fewer patients could end up in intensive care, and fewer healthcare staff could fall victim to the deadly outbreak that has infested more than a million and led to tens of thousands of deaths.
Increase Nitric Oxide Naturally
Watch the video below to see a simple breathing technique that will increase nitric oxide naturally in the airways