Benefits of the humidified low-flow oxygen therapy in infants with mild–moderate bronchiolitis

Sonia Lorente Sánchez, Rebeca Gimeno, Josep Maria Losilla, Sandra Garzón, Jaume Vives

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© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Aims and objectives: To investigate the clinical benefits of using humidification in low-flow oxygen therapy. Specific objectives were to investigate via an assessment of the number of nasal lavages whether humidification can help to decrease the nasal mucus viscosity, to determine whether it can relieve feeding difficulties by comparing the weight gain in infants, to ascertain whether it can relieve respiratory distress by assessing the heart and respiratory rates and contribute to improved clinical outcomes, measured by the length of stay and oxygen requirements. Background: There is no evidence to support the use of humidification in low-flow oxygen therapy as a usual clinical practice in the management of bronchiolitis. Design: A controlled quasi-experimental study. Methods: A total of 97 infants were included, aged ≤6 months, with bronchiolitis, low-flow oxygen therapy and bronchodilators nebulised with hypertonic saline 3%. Data from the control group (nonhumidified) were gathered from 2010–2012 (49 infants), and data from the group with humidification from 2012–2014 (48 infants). Linear and Poisson regressions were performed adjusting for relevant characteristics of patients. Results: Humidification was shown to be associated with significant reductions in the number of nasal lavages in infants with Sant Joan de Déu Bronchiolitis Scores of BROSJOD≤7, in the heart rate of infants with mixed bronchodilators treatment, and in the length of stay and oxygen requirements of infants with Score BROSJOD≤5. No differences in weight and respiratory rate were found. Conclusions: Humidification in low-flow oxygen therapy is an effective nursing intervention to improve the clinical outcomes of infants with mild–moderate bronchiolitis. Relevance to clinical practice: Humidifying the nasal mucosa can help to reduce the need for professional procedures, oxygen requirements and hospitalisation length. Further research into the economic savings involved is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1133
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • bronchiolitis
  • humidification
  • infant
  • low-flow oxygen therapy
  • nursing


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