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Nasal sprays may help prevent spread of colds

September 13, 2009 | 11:02 am

Nasal People with colds who sneeze can spread germs into the air and infect others. But there may be a way to reduce the chances of spreading your colds to others. A study presented today shows that oxymetazoline, the compound found in many over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays, appears to reduce the levels of rhinovirus in nasal secretions.

Researchers from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, assigned 39 volunteers, who were infected with rhinovirus, to receive either a nasal decongestant or saline spray. They received three puffs a day for five days. By the second day, those receiving the oxymetazoline had much less virus in their nasal secretions. However, people in both groups still had colds that lasted an average of 6.1 days.

Reducing the virus in nasal secretions, however, may help prevent it from spreading into the ears, chest or into the environment through sneezes and coughs.

The study was presented today at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

-- Shari Roan