Scientific reports. 2019;9(1):1015
Plain language summary
The common cold is a viral upper respiratory tract infection which affects adults and children worldwide, often multiple times a year. A large number of viruses cause these infections, making targeted antiviral treatment impractical. This small, randomised, controlled pilot trial (not blinded) of 68 adults aimed to assess the impact of salt-water nasal washing and throat gargling as many times as required (on average 3 times a day for 5 days) within 48 hours of symptom on-set on study recruitment and retention, as well as acceptability, symptom duration and viral shedding. The researchers found that nasal irrigation and gargling with a saline solution was acceptable to study participants. Illness duration was shortened by 1.9 days in the intervention arm, with significant reductions in the duration of runny nose, blocked nose, sneezing, cough and hoarseness of voice. The average quality of life score was also higher in the intervention arm, although this failed to reach significance. Viral shedding was higher in the intervention arm, with over the counter medication use 36% lower. There was also a lower rate of infection spread within households for the intervention arm. The authors call for a larger, placebo controlled trial to confirm these findings. Nutrition Practitioners supporting immunity in relation to the common cold virus may want to discuss the use of saline nasal irrigation with their clients as a simple measure to reduce symptoms and spread.