A saline nasal wash solution made from processed seawater may help children with a common cold, according to a new report in Monday's Archives of Otolaryngology.
The solution can help by reducing symptoms associated with the common cold, as well as reducing the risk of recurrent respiratory infections, the study said.
It may be that the salt water has a simple mechanical effect of clearing mucus, or it could be that trace elements in the water play some more significant role, though the exact reason why such a solution works is not known, said Dr. Ivo Slapak and colleagues at the Teaching Hospital of Brno in the Czech Republic.
The researchers studied 390 children between 6 and 10 who had uncomplicated cold or flu symptoms for 12 weeks in the winter of 2006.
Children were divided into two groups. One group received standard treatments such as nasal decongestants, and the other received same medications plus the saline nasal wash.
The nasal wash formula was given six times a day for eight weeks, then three times a day for the next four weeks.
The European researchers found eight weeks after the study began that the children given saline wash had significantly fewer severe sore throats, coughs, nasal obstructions and secretions than those only given standard treatments.
Moreover, fewer children in the saline group had to use fever-reducing drugs, nasal decongestants and mucus-dissolving medications or antibiotics, the researchers said.
In addition, children 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.