In the first part of this study spontaneous variations in the physical and chemical qualities of sputum were observed and summarized and their relation to mechanical drainage was discussed.1 The mechanical drainage of the secretions of the bronchi is accomplished by the action of the cilia, the respiratory movements, the tussive squeeze of the cough reflex, the cough itself and, finally, expectoration. That these processes, both the cellular and the more gross mechanical ones, may be aided by the use of expectorants is well recognized.2 The most commonly used means of increasing endobronchial drainage at present consist of the administration of expectorants, which cause a more active bronchial secretion or liquefy the sputum and make it less tenacious.
The specific influence on the sputum of commonly used expectorants, such as drugs and steam, is knowledge which has been obtained through centuries of clinical experience. In most instances the
BASCH FP, HOLINGER P, PONCHER HG. PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES OF SPUTUM: II. INFLUENCE OF DRUGS, STEAM, CARBON DIOXIDE AND OXYGEN. Am J Dis Child. 1941;62(6):1149–1171. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1941.02000180023002
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