Saline Rinse May Cut Cold Symptoms

Researchers say a side effect-free approach could help kids with cold symptoms.

ByABC News
February 12, 2009, 3:21 PM

Jan. 21, 2008— -- Seeking a remedy for your child's head cold? Rather than reaching for pills, you might want to take a less common, and more effective, approach shooting a jet of salt water up his or her nose might do the trick, according to a new study.

This may sound strange to many who have relied on more traditional medical cabinet staples, such as decongestants, to offer relief for cold and flu symptoms. Yet, in light of recent concerns on the safety of cough and cold medicines for children, treating stuffy noses with a saline wash could represent a drug-free, potentially effective approach.

The study by Czech researchers, to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 401 kids between 6 and 10 years old who suffered from cold or flu symptoms. While some received standard cough and cold medication alone, others got that, plus a saline nasal wash made from processed sea water. Investigators observed the participants during four visits over 12 weeks to assess the results.

Children assigned to the saline nasal wash group used the nasal wash six times per day during the first two to three weeks, and three times per day during the rest of the study period.

What researchers found was that, by their second doctor's visit, children using the saline nasal wash had less stuffy noses.

And by the eighth week of the study, these children also had significantly less severe sore throats, coughs, and nasal congestion than those who received only standard cough and cold medication.

"The study results show that saline nasal wash significantly improved nasal symptoms in the common cold in children, and shows potential to prevent the recurrence of upper respiratory tract infections," wrote Dr. Ivo Slapak, lead study investigator, and professor of pediatric otorhinolaryngology at the Teaching Hospital of Brno in the Czech Republic.