A new study has reported that a saline nasal wash solution made from processed seawater might help kids with a common cold. According to the study, conducted by Dr. Ivo Slapak and colleagues at the Teaching Hospital of Brno in the Czech Republic, the solution can help by reducing symptoms associated with the common cold, as well as reducing the risk of recurrent respiratory infections.
"Nasal irrigation with isotonic [balanced] saline solutions seems effective in such health conditions and is often used in a variety of indications as an adjunctive treatment. Although saline nasal wash is currently mentioned in several guidelines, scientific evidence of its efficacy is rather poor," the authors said.
The researchers studied 390 kids between 6 and 10 with cold or flu symptoms for 12 weeks in the winter of 2006.
Children were divided into two groups, one receiving standard medication and the other receiving a nasal wash with a modified processed seawater solution.
The nasal wash formula was given six times a day for eight weeks, then three times a day for the next four weeks.
The researchers found eight weeks after the study began that the noses of patients using saline were less stuffy and runny and had significantly fewer severe sore throats, coughs, nasal obstructions and secretions than those only given standard treatments.
Moreover, fewer kids in the saline group had to use fever-reducing drugs, nasal decongestants and mucus-dissolving medications or antibiotics, the researchers said.
In addition, kids who used the salt spray were sick less often and missed fewer school days.
Another benefit from the saline nasal wash is that it was well tolerated with no side effects.
"We did not hear substantial complaints about compliance, and good compliance seemed to be confirmed by the weight of returned empty bottles," the authors said.
The solution may work by reducing the production of inflammatory compounds or by creating a favourable environment for cilia, tiny hairs in the respiratory system, to sweep away mucus and particles.
"It is not clear whether the effect is predominately mechanical, based on clearing mucus, or whether salts and trace elements in seawater solutions play a significant role," the authors said.
The study is published in the January issue of Archives of Otolaryngology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals