ABSTRACT: Thermal water inhalations have been traditionally used in the treatment of upper and lower chronic airway diseases. However, the benefit and the mechanism of this treatment have not been properly assessed. To determine whether inhaled salt-bromide-iodine thermal water improves lung function, quality of life and airway inflammation, 39 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were randomly assigned to receive 2-weeks inhalation treatment with thermal water (active, no. = 20) or normal saline (control, no. = 19) in single blind. Lung volumes were measured, Saint George's respiratory questionnaire (SGRQ) was administered and induced sputum was performed before and after treatment. No changes in pre- and post-salbutamol lung volumes was observed after inhalation treatment in both groups. SGRQ score showed a significant improvement in active group compared with control group at the end of the trial. The concentration of total cells in induced sputum increased significantly in both active (P < 0.05) and control groups (P < 0.05). Inhalation of thermal water induced a small but significant decrease in percentages of sputum neutrophils (P < 0.01) and a parallel increase in macrophages (P < 0.01). In contrast, normal saline inhalation was not associated with changes in differential sputum cell counts. In conclusion, treatment with inhaled salt-bromide-iodine thermal water in COPD is associated with a reduced proportion of neutrophils in induced sputum suggesting that thermal water may have a mild anti-inflammatory effect on the airways. However, the short-term improvement in some components health-related quality of life was not related with changes in lung function or with the degree of airway inflammation.
Respiratory Medicine 07/2005; 99(6):748-54. · 2.47 Impact Factor