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April 13, 1994

Effect of Inhalation of Hot Humidified Air on Experimental Rhinovirus Infection

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Dr Hendley) and Internal Medicine (Drs Abbott and Gwaltney and Ms Beasley), University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville.

JAMA. 1994;271(14):1112-1113. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510380068040

Objective.  —Nasal inhalation of steam has been proposed as treatment of viral colds on the assumption that increased intranasal temperature will inhibit replication of rhinovirus (RV). The effect of steam inhalation on RV shedding by infected volunteers was examined in this study.

Design.  —Randomized controlled trial. Volunteers experimentally infected with RV were treated with machine-generated humidified air, which was either hot (active) or at room temperature (placebo). Viral shedding was assessed over the 4 days following treatment.

Setting.  —Local hotel.

Participants.  —Twenty volunteers from the university community who were susceptible to the challenge virus.

Intervention.  —Two 30-minute intranasal treatments, the first at 24 hours after inoculation and the second at 48 hours. The temperature of active vapor was 42°C to 44°C and of placebo vapor was 22°C.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Viral titers in nasal washings on each of 5 days following inoculation.

Results.  —Mean viral titers prior to the first treatment were 101.7 tissue culture infectious doses50 per milliliter in the active group and 101.5 in the placebo group. Mean titers for the next 4 days were 101.7,101.7,101.2, and 100.9/mL in the active group and 101.8,101.9,101.6, and 100.7/mL in the placebo group (no significant difference). The proportion of volunteers who shed virus on each day was also similar in the two groups.

Conclusion.  —Two nasal inhalation treatments with steam had no effect on viral shedding in volunteers with experimental RV colds.(JAMA. 1994;271:1112-1113)