New research shows simple salt water may be the best cure for a child’s cold symptoms.
In a recent European study, rinsing with a nasal spray made from Atlantic Ocean seawater improved cold and cough symptoms faster and prevented recurrence in children 6-10 years old.
The study, funded by Goemar Laboratories La Madeleine, Saint-Malo, France, which makes Physiomer, the seawater nasal spray used in the analysis, was published in this month’s issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology.
The report was published days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning on nonprescription cold remedies for children under 2.
The FDA warning said the medicines were too dangerous due to potential side effects such as convulsions and rapid heart rates, which in rare cases had caused deaths. The FDA hopes to rule later this year on whether or not these cold remedies are safe for children ages 2-11 years old.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated these cold and cough products are not effective for children under age 6, and may also be risky.
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, in a Reuters interview.
The authors added that while saline washes have long been mentioned as a treatment for colds, scientific evidence about whether they work is lacking.
During the study, the researchers examined 390 children with uncomplicated cold or flu symptoms over the course of 12 weeks. The children were randomly assigned to receive either standard treatment, such as nasal decongestants, or those same medications plus the saline nasal wash.
Children given the salt water spray got it six times a day initially and three times a day in the latter part of the study, when the investigators were determining whether the spray would prevent symptoms from redeveloping.
The researchers found the noses of children given the spray were less stuffy and runny the second time they were checked. And eight weeks after the study began, those in the saline group had significantly fewer severe sore throats, coughs, nasal obstructions and secretions than those given standard treatments.
Additionally, fewer children in the saline group had to use fever-reducing drugs, nasal decongestants and mucus-dissolving medications or antibiotics. Finally, the researchers found these children were sick less often and missed fewer school days.
“We brush our teeth every day, however, we do not pay attention to our noses ““ a potential gate for infection,” said study co-author Dr. Jana Skoupa, of Pharma Projects in Prague, Czech Republic, in an interview with Forbes. “Nasal wash should be used, based on our findings, immediately.”
Physiomer, the nasal spray used in the study, is the leading brand in Europe. However, it is not currently available in the United States.