Nebulized hypertonic saline is an emerging therapy for this indication.
Viral bronchiolitis is the most common diagnosis at hospitalization for infants who are younger than 1 year of age.
It results in approximately 150,000 hospitalizations each year at a cost of more than $500 million, according to a study published in 2006 (Pediatrics 2006;118:2418-23). Yet so far, nothing we give our patients really works.
Nebulized hypertonic saline is garnering enthusiasm because there is a consistent set of papers and a theory of physiology supporting its efficacy in the treatment of acute viral bronchiolitis.