News

Wednesday, 18. November 2009

Inhaling saline reduces the risk of infection

Whenever we speak or cough, we all exhale tiny droplets of fluid, technically known as bioaerosols. These bioaerosols may carry a wide range of germs that are responsible for the spread of flu, TB and many other infectious diseases among humans. A team of German and US researchers[1] has demonstrated that inhaling a saline solution significantly diminishes the exhalation of these droplets containing bacterial or viral particles in individuals.

The researchers conducted a study of 11 adult test subjects of varying ages, and found that the exhalation of bioaerosols differed greatly between individuals. It is particularly noteworthy that some people exhale many more of these germ-carrying droplets than others. Approximately half of the subjects tested produced a very large number of particles, leading the researchers to conclude that just half of the population is "responsible" for 98% of all infections that are spread by these droplets.

But exactly how does inhaling nebulised salt water reduce the number of particle-containing droplets exhaled and reduce the risk of infecting others? Our airways are lined with a layer of cells that produce mucus. The research team conducted various experiments to demonstrate that inhaling saline solution causes increased surface tension in this mucus layer. This physical change leads to the formation of a smaller number of bigger droplets. Because of their larger size, most of these droplets cannot be exhaled and are simply deposited within the airways.

This study shows that inhaling saline solution for just six minutes with the PARI LC Plus nebuliser reduces the exhalation of particle-containing droplets by approximately 72%, in particular among individuals who produce these droplets in large numbers. And this effect lasts an impressive six hours.

Conclusion: Inhaling saline solution is a simple yet extremely efficient and cost-effective way to reduce the risk of infectious diseases being spread by droplet infection. A practical benefit of this method is that there are no known side-effects or interactions with other medication. In addition, it has been shown to be effective for all viruses and bacteria that are spread by droplet infection. PARI's NaCl Inhalation Solution, which supplies saline solution in convenient plastic ampoules, and the inhalation devices in the PARI BOY range, incorporating the PARI LC SPRINT nebuliser, are ideally suited to helping reduce the spread of infection in this way.

It is important to note that the frequently recommended remedy of "steaming your head" proves useless in this instance because the salt cannot be transported by steam and is simply left behind when the water evaporates. By contrast, inhaling saline solution with a jet compressor nebuliser allows the liquid to be atomised to form tiny droplets containing any active agents dissolved in the solution, including sodium chloride.

[1] D.A. Edwards, J.C. Man, P. Brand, J.P. Katstra, K. Sommerer, H.A. Stone, E. Nardell,
G. Scheuch: Inhaling to mitigate exhaled bioaerosols, PNAS Dec 14, 2004, vol. 10, no. 50,
17383 - 17388

If you have any questions relating to the study cited here or concerning inhalation or PARI products, please contact us using the contact details provided below:

Dr. Rosina Ledermüller
PARI GmbH
Phone: +49 (8151) – 279 213