New study claims a saltwater spray could help thousands of children avoid surgery to remove their tonsils.

The study found saline nasal spray was just as effective as anti-inflammatory steroid nasal spray in treating children with snoring and breathing difficulties after six weeks of treatment.

The research, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute involved 276 children, aged 3-12 years, and was carried out at The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Children’s Hospital.

The research found that the saltwater spray was just as effective at clearing symptoms in 40 per cent of cases, reports 9 news.

Tonsillectomy is the most common paediatric elective surgery for children in Australia, with more than 40,000 performed each year. Commonly used to treat children’s snoring, the procedure is costly, painful and a significant burden on hospital resources.

Dr Alice Baker from Murdoch Children’s said children typically wait years in the public system to remove tonsils and adenoids.

She said it was important to look for an alternative treatment for sleep-disordered breathing.

“Nasal sprays work by cleaning the nose and/or reducing inflammation not just in the nose but all the way down the back of the throat to the adenoids and tonsillar tissue to alleviate the symptoms,” Baker said.

Snoring and breathing difficulties during sleep affect about 12 per cent of children.

Steroid and saline sprays are already available as over-the-counter medications to treat other things like hayfever.

Please speak to your local GP before opting for any treatment or sprays.