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J Allergy (Cairo). 2014;2014:943824. doi: 10.1155/2014/943824. Epub 2014 Jun 1.

Thermal water applications in the treatment of upper respiratory tract diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Institute of Medical Statistics, Informatics and Epidemiology (IMSIE), University Hospital of Cologne, 50924 Cologne, Germany.



Thermal water inhalations and irrigations have a long tradition in the treatment of airway diseases. Currently there exists no systematic review or meta-analysis on the effectiveness of thermal water treatment in upper respiratory tract diseases.


A systematic search in the databases of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, ISI Web of Science, and MedPilot was accomplished.


Eight evaluable outcome parameters from 13 prospective clinical studies were identified for 840 patients. Mucociliary clearance time improves significantly (P < 0.01) for the pooled thermal water subgroup and the sulphurous subgroup after 2 weeks (-6.69/minutes) and after 90 days (-8.33/minutes), not for isotonic sodium chloride solution (ISCS). Nasal resistance improved significantly after 2 weeks (Radon, ISCS, and placebo), after 30 days (sulphur and ISCS), and after 90 days (sulphur). Nasal flow improved significantly with the pooled thermal water, radon alone, and ISCS subgroups. For the IgE parameter only sulphurous thermal water (P < 0.01) and ISCS (P > 0.01) were analyzable. Adverse events of minor character were only reported for sulphurous treatment (19/370).


Thermal water applications with radon or sulphur can be recommended as additional nonpharmacological treatment in upper airway diseases. Also in comparison to isotonic saline solution it shows significant improvements and should be investigated further.

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