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Over-the-counter Nasal Products for Sinus Congestion: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness

Last updated: May 11, 2016
Project Number: RC0778-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Drug
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report


  1. What is the clinical effectiveness of over-the-counter nasal products to relieve sinus congestion associated with colds and allergies?

Key Message

Evidence from two systematic reviews suggests that saline treatment is effective for patients with chronic rhinosinusitis. Evidence from one RCT and one observational study suggests that saline treatment is effective for patients with allergic rhinitis.Saline treatment was compared with other non-pharmacological treatments (such as microemulsion, xylitol, carrageenan, and thermal water) in a variety of conditions (such as allergic rhinitis, non-allergic chronic rhinitis, and common cold) and generally findings suggested greater improvement with these other non-pharmacological treatments. However, for each comparison findings were derived from a single RCT, hence results need to be interpreted in the light of this.