After eight weeks, 9% of children in the nasal wash group were using fever-reducing drugs, compared with 33% on standard medication.
There were also fewer children in the sea water solution group using nasal congestants (5% vs 47%), mucus dissolving medications (10% vs 37%) or antibiotics (6% vs 21%).
Fine spray formulations were the best tolerated form of the nasal wash, according to the researchers.
The authors postulated that washes may work by reducing the production of inflammatory compounds, or be creating a favourable environment for fine hairs in the immune system to sweep away mucus and particles.
Archives of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (2008) 134: 67-74