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Has anyone nebulized plain saline to loosen congestion?

My asthma tends to manifest itself in (among other things) frequent bronchitis with a lot of really thick, hard-to-cough-up gunk in my lungs. It creates kind of a vicious cycle in which coughing triggers asthma &; asthma triggers more coughing. I have heard that some people find it helpful to nebulize plain sterile normal saline to help loosen chest congestion. I definitely recognize that saline is never a substitute for actual medication, I'm just wondering if anyone has tried it as an "add-on" and what their experience was?

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  1. Hi rjmoon and thanks for this post. It's an interesting question and one I'm happy to answer. In the 1970's and 1980's many of us working in hospitals were doing just that - nebulizing 'normal, sterile saline' to patients with asthma and COPD. For many, the results were clear - it helped to loosen thick secretions (mucus) and then to cough it out (with coaching and sometimes the adjunct, chest physical therapy). If you find this is helpful to you, you may want to discuss it with your physician and, if (s)he says it's okay, start taking those treatments for yourself. Please do check back and let us know how you're doing. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

    1. I have used saline and when that did not work on vent-dependent quadriplegics;we used sodium bi-carb. It actually worked pretty good.

      1. Hi again, Debgrubb - Thanks for joining in this conversation. Are you a clinician of some kind? Leon (site moderator)

    2. did once as I had the most awful dry chesty cough but with my clinicians approval. I would say be careful as it can cause excessive mucus. I had to up my sprieva afterwards and ultimately someone had to do back smacking motions to get me to cough it out. Just be careful


      1. Hi sharmeen, and thanks for lending your own support and encouragement here. We also appreciate you sharing your own personal experience with the community while using normal saline for airway clearance.
        We value both your input and your feedback.
        All the best,
        Leon (site moderator asthma.net)

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