A saline nasal wash solution made from processed seawater may help children suffering with the common cold, according to a report published today.
It appears to improve symptoms and may help prevent the recurrence of respiratory infections, the study found.
Infections of the upper respiratory tract and sinuses are common among children.
The authors write: ‘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.’
Researchers in Brno in the Czech Republic put 401 children aged six to ten who had colds or flu into two groups, one receiving standard medication and the other also receiving a nasal wash with a modified processed seawater solution.
Patients were observed for a total of 12 weeks and were assessed at four visits.
By the second visit, the noses of patients using saline were less stuffy and runny.
Eight weeks after the study began, those in the saline group had significantly less severe sore throats, coughs, nasal obstructions and secretions than those in the standard treatment group.
The nasal wash was well tolerated, particularly in fine spray formulations.
Saline washes 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 write.
The study is reported in the January issue of the journal Archives of Otolaryngology.
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