A nasal spray made from Atlantic Ocean seawater eased wintertime cold symptoms faster and slowed cough and cold symptoms from returning among children ages 6 to 10, researchers in Europe reported on Monday.
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 study, published in the January issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology, was paid for by Goemar Laboratoires La Madeleine, Saint-Malo, France, which makes Physiomer, the seawater nasal spray used in the investigation.
The authors said that while saline washes have long been mentioned as a treatment for colds, scientific evidence about whether they work is poor.
The report was published days after the US Food and Drug Administration said children under two should not be given nonprescription cough and cold medicines because they are too dangerous for that age group, with deaths, convulsions and rapid heart rates reported in rare cases.
US health officials have not yet decided if the widely sold medicines made by companies such as Wyeth and Johnson & Johnson are appropriate for older children, and have said they hope to have a ruling covering appropriate use for children 2 to 11 later this year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has said cough and cold products are ineffective for children under age six, and may also be risky. The Czech study involved 390 children with uncomplicated cold or flu symptoms.
Sources: The Times Of India