What saline nebuliser therapy can do for various respiratory conditions

Saline Nebuliser therapy

What inhaled saline nebuliser solution can do for various respiratory conditions

Inhaling saline with a nebuliser supports mucus clearance

Our airways have a natural protective coating against pathogens such as viruses and other harmful environmental influences: the mucus membrane. There is a highly sophisticated and complex self-cleaning program (mucociliary clearance) constantly cleaning the mucus membranes. Unfortunately though, the effectiveness of this first line of defense of our airways can be impaired by dry heated air or cold air. This is also an underlying problem of some respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis or COPD. For people with those conditions mucus clearance can be impaired, but inhaling saline via a nebuliser can help regain the capabilities of this important protective mechanism.

Key take aways on inhaling saline with a nebuliser

  • Nebulised “Isotonic” saline can moisturize the mucus membrane and therefore protect the airways
  • Nebulised “hypertonic” saline can dissolve excess mucus and make breathing easier
  • Inhaling saline only works with a nebuliser – inhaling steam over a bowl of hot water is a popular myth
  • Does not cause any known side effects or interactions with other medications

First things first: Why you should use a nebuliser for saline inhalation and why using a bowl of hot water does not work

Often one hears that inhaling steam, rather than saline, will help to clear your airways. Unfortunately steam alone doesn’t have the same effect as saline, as you need salt to get the effect. Adding salt to hot water doesn’t work, due to the different boiling temperatures of salt (more than 800 degrees Celsius) and water (100 degrees Celsius). The result: the water evaporates and the salt remains in the pot. The warmth of the steam may feel good in the upper airways but you won´t benefit from the positive effects that nebulised saline has on your airways.

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Saline nebuliser solution: what saline solutions can be used and why?

In general one can differentiate isotonic and hypertonic saline nebuliser solutions. Isotonic means that it contains exactly 0.9 % sodium chloride which equals the salinity of our body fluids. Hypertonic means the saline nebuliser solution contains more than 0.9 % sodium chloride and thus more then our body fluids. 

Isotonic saline nebuliser solution – a daily cleaning and care program for your airways

Isotonic means that the nebulised saline has the same salt content as our body fluid. Administered with a suitable nebuliser system, the saline directly reaches your airways. This supports mucociliary clearance – the first line of defense of our non-specific immune system. Non-specific means that it is effective against a wide range of airborne pathogens, e.g. viruses or bacteria that can cause disease.

The inhalation of isotonic saline using a nebuliser is also very well tolerated and usually does not cause any side effects or interactions with other medications. Nebulised saline is therefore the right choice to be used daily to support your airways against unwanted intruders such as viruses & bacteria.

Hypertonic saline nebuliser solution: get rid of excess mucus

If your normal mucus clearance mechanisms  are impaired, your mucus membrane can end up with too much mucus. This can result in a cough or even, in severe cases, shortness of breath. It is also an underlying characteristic of some respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis or bronchiectasis. The problem is: it makes our airways more prone to recurrent infections.

Hypertonic means that the salt concentration is higher than 0.9 %. Inhaling hypertonic saline via a nebuliser can help to break this vicious cycle by dissolving the excess mucus and making it easier to cough it up to get rid of it. During the COVID pandemic scientists even looked at hypertonic saline to inhibit the reproduction of the virus in our airways: On the basis of in vitro experiments they were able to show that mildly hypertonic saline can completely block the replication of the virus1. Inhaling hypertonic saline can be the right choice if you suffer from excess mucus with an acute respiratory infection. If you have a chronic respiratory disease, please consult your doctor about nebulised hypertonic saline.

Saline Nebuliser solution: Which saline solution should be used and when?

This video explains the effects of saline nebuliser solutions with different salt concentrations.


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Finding the right nebuliser for inhaling saline

All nebulisers have one thing in common: They all generate a fine mist from the saline nebuliser solution – so-called aerosol. In order to reach your lungs, the aerosol droplets need to be very small (less than 5 microns). However, the smaller the aerosol droplets, the longer the treatment session might take. Therefore, it is important to look for efficient nebuliser systems, meaning as much active substance is delivered as quickly as possible. This efficiency is measured by the RDDR (Respiratory Drug Delivery Rate). For you a high RDDR means short inhalation times with a high amount of saline solution reaching your lungs.

Why trust in PARI nebulisers for your daily saline inhalation?

  • PARI nebuliser systems are of the highest quality and extremely durable 

  • Gold Standard: PARI nebulisers are often recommended in the package inserts of medications 

  • Highly efficient: PARI nebuliser systems deliver a high amount of active agent to the lungs in a short time – high RDDR

Where can you buy PARI nebuliser systems and saline solutions for nebulisers?

We recommend to buy your nebuliser for inhaling saline with Nebicorum, our trusted partner and one of the leading stockists of high quality nebulisers in the UK.

VELOX - portable nebuliser


Mobile, with modern vibrating membrane technology – for particularly fast and quiet inhalation.



Isotonic saline nebuliser solution - PARI

PARI NaCl Inhalation Solution

Nebulising 0.9% isotonic saline solution is effective in preventing, managing and treating diseases of the airways, for any age group.


Buy NaCl isotonic saline
inhalation solution

The PARI COMPACT2 nebuliser system


PARI COMPACT2 is the cost-effective alternative from PARI, offering reliability and PARI quality at an affordable price. Includes the clinically proven PARI LC PLUS nebuliser chamber.



[1] Machado R. et al., Hypertonic saline solution inhibits SARS-CoV-2 in vitro assay. BioRxiv preprint 2020. www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.04.235549v1

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