Nasal decongestants of 'modest' benefit in colds
Nasal decongestants are only modestly useful for reducing common cold symptoms but side-effects are rare and mild, a new gold standard review concludes.
Estimates are that adults
and children suffer from a
cold an average of two or more times a year, of which nasal congestion is the most common symptom.
But there had previously been no meta-analysis of controlled trials to review the effects of decongestants at reducing symptoms.
The new Cochrane review analysed seven studies in adults, and found a 'small but significant' 6 per cent decrease in the subjectively assessed symptoms of those who had taken nasal decongestants.
With repeated doses, nasal decongestants produced a
very small statistical benefit of 4 per cent over three to five days. Two studies showed there was a small number of adverse events.
Dr David Taverner, a researcher for the Cochrane acute respiratory infections group, said: 'A single oral dose of nasal decongestant in the common cold is modestly effective for the short-term relief of congestion in adults, and these drugs also provide benefit is some individuals after regular use over three to five days.'