Objective: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted to study the effect of the intranasal corticosteroid, fluticasone propionate (FP), in the naturally occurring common cold.
Methods: One hundred ninety-nine young adults received high-dose FP (200 microg four times daily) or placebo beginning 24 to 48 hours after onset of the common cold for 6 days. All symptoms were recorded on diary cards on days 1 to 20, and clinical examinations were carried out on days 1, 7, and 21. Nasopharyngeal aspirates were collected on days 1 and 7 for detection of rhinoviruses (found in 105 subjects) and Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, or Moraxella catarrhalis (found in 52 subjects) in the nasopharynx.
Results: In general, FP treatment had no clinically recognizable effects on the symptoms of the common cold, although it significantly reduced nasal congestion and cough on some study days. After treatment, rhinoviruses were cultured more often in the FP treatment group (37% vs 14%, p < 0.001), but this had no effect on the symptoms of common cold. FP treatment produced no changes in the colonization of pathogenic bacteria in the nasopharynx. Some symptoms of common cold were significantly more severe during days 1 to 10 (p < 0.05) in subjects found to have positive cultures for S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae, or M. catarrhalis in the nasopharynx on day 1 (n = 33).
Conclusion: FP treatment does not have any marked effects on the symptoms of the common cold. FP treatment induced prolonged shedding of viable rhinoviruses. Some symptoms of the common cold were significantly more severe in subjects with pathogenic bacteria in the nasopharynx.