Effectiveness of Over-The-Counter Intranasal Preparations: A Randomized Trial

  • Lakshana DeveEmail author
  • Jayita Poduval
Original Article


To compare the effectiveness of over-the-counter normal saline with nasal decongestant drops for the symptomatic relief of nasal congestion, and to determine if nasal drops used alone are effective in the treatment of patients suffering from nasal congestion. Prospective, randomized double blinded study. Otorhinolaryngology Outpatient Department. Patients suffering from nasal congestion and similar symptoms such as nasal discharge, dryness, crusting, sneezing, itching and loss of smell. Resolution of symptoms based on visual analog scale and objective findings on anterior rhinoscopy. Chi-square test was done for comparison between the saline and decongestant groups. Subgroup analysis was done for patients on additional medication such as antibiotics. The p value is 0.701671 for the effectiveness of saline against that of decongestant, thus no significant difference exists between them for the relief of nasal congestion. The p value is 0.007497 for those on antibiotics and those that were treated only with nasal drops, thus showing a significant difference (level of significance being p < 0.05). The effectiveness of both nasal saline and decongestant drops in bringing about relief of nasal congestion is similar, and both of them may also cause headache though the mechanism is not well understood from this study. Relief might be primarily obtained with the help of oral medication and not the use of nasal drops.

Level of evidence: Single-center randomized trial, level II b.


Nasal drops Saline Decongestant Intranasal preparations Nasal congestion Antibiotics Devices 



The authors would like to acknowledge the support and guidance of the Head of Department, Dr Mary Kurien, for carrying out this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

Ethics approval was obtained from the Institute Ethics Committee and the trial was registered with the Clinical Trials Registry- India, number REF/2016/10/012393 AU.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all the study participants and their confidentiality has been ensured.


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Copyright information

© Association of Otolaryngologists of India 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ENTPondicherry Institute of Medical SciencesPondicherryIndia

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