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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jul 6;(7):CD008231. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008231.pub2.

Intranasal ipratropium bromide for the common cold.

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Sheikh Abdullah S. Bahamdan Research Chair for Evidence-Based Health Care and Knowledge Translation, College of Medicine, King Saud University, P.O. Box 68639, Riyadh, Central, Saudi Arabia, 11537.

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The common cold is one of the most common illnesses in humans and constitutes an economic burden both in terms of productivity and expenditure for treatment. There is no proven cure for the common cold and symptomatic relief is the mainstay of treatment. The use of intranasal ipratropium bromide (IB) has been addressed in several studies and might prove an effective treatment for the common cold.


To determine the effect of IB versus placebo or no treatment on severity of rhinorrhoea and nasal congestion in children and adults with the common cold. Subjective overall improvement was another primary outcome and side effects were reported as a secondary outcome.


We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL 2011, Issue 1) which contains the Acute Respiratory Infections Group's Specialised Register, MEDLINE (1950 to January week 4, 2011), MEDLINE in-process and other non-indexed citations (February 2011), EMBASE (1974 to February 2011), AMED (1985 to February 2011), Biosis (1974 to February 2011) and LILACS (1985 to February 2011).


Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing IB to placebo or no treatment in children and adults with the common cold.


Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality. We used a standardised form to extract relevant data and we contacted trial authors for additional information.


Seven trials with a total of 2144 participants were included. Four studies (1959 participants) addressed subjective change in severity of rhinorrhoea. All studies were consistent in reporting statistically significant changes in favour of IB. Nasal congestion was reported in four studies and was found to have no significant change between the two groups. Two studies found a positive response in the IB group for the global assessment of overall improvement. Side effects were more frequent in the IB group, odds ratio (OR) 2.09 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.40 to 3.11). Commonly encountered side effects included nasal dryness, blood tinged mucus and epistaxis.


For people with the common cold, the existing evidence, which has some limitations, suggests that IB is likely to be effective in ameliorating rhinorrhoea. IB had no effect on nasal congestion and its use was associated with more side effects compared to placebo or no treatment although these appeared to be well-tolerated and self-limiting. There is a need for larger, high-quality trials to determine the effectiveness of IB in relieving common cold symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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