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Silver nasal sprays: misleading Internet marketing.

Long-term use of silver-containing products is associated with a permanent bluish-gray discoloration of the skin known as argyria, but they remain widely available despite several measures by the FDA to regulate them. Several recent case reports have described the occurrence of argyria as a result of using these "natural" products. We used the five most common Internet search engines to find Web sites providing information on silver-containing nasal sprays. Of 49 Web sites analyzed, only 2 (4%) mentioned argyria as a possible complication, although 30 (61%) did caution against long-term use. Eight sites (16%) made specific claims about the health benefits of the product. All 49 sites (100%) provided direct or indirect links to buy silver-containing nasal sprays. We conclude that information about silver-containing nasal sprays on the Internet is misleading and inaccurate. Therefore, otolaryngologists should be aware of the misinformation their patients may be receiving about these products.

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