Few interventions have proved to be effective in the prevention and treatment of common colds. Anecdotal reports suggest the possible beneficial effect of hydrotherapy (stimulation of the body surface with warm and cold water). This study's objective was to evaluate the clinical effect of hydrotherapy on common colds in children. Children aged 3-7 years with six or more common cold episodes during the preceding 12 months were randomised to receive either daily inhalation of normal saline in the control group or daily inhalation plus daily hydrotherapy in the experimental group for 12 months. The main outcome measurements were incidence, duration and severity of common cold episodes as reported by the children's parents in a daily symptom diary. Groups did not differ at baseline with regard to age, gender, or number of cold episodes in the year before the study. Diaries were available from 81 patients in the control group and 65 patients in the experimental group. In the study period, there were no significant differences in the incidence of colds (control vs. experimental group, mean +/- SD, 4.8+/-3.5 vs. 4.1+/-3.3 episodes) or the average duration of episodes (7.7+/-3.5 vs. 7.6+/-3.8 days).
Conclusion: This study does not demonstrate any beneficial effect of hydrotherapy on preschool children with frequent common colds.