August 27, 2021

Hellenic Academy of Thermal Medicine: Thermal Tourism and Respiratory Diseases

Konstantinos Kouskoukis

Professor of Dermatology – Lawyer

B’ Vice President GDHI / President Hellenic Academy of Thermal Medicine / President World Academy of Chinese & Complimentary Medicine

Thermal Medicine is a complementary therapeutic method of Classical Medicine and therefore must be combined and complemented, to achieve the best possible therapeutic effect. The treating physicians, having in their therapeutic arsenal the products of the modern pharmaceutical industry, utilizing the results of the innovative research on drugs, should approach complementary and not disparaging, the scientific results of the research of Thermal Medicine, always for the benefit of the patients, without side effects.

The respiratory system is significantly affected by the immersion of the body in water up to the level of the chest, on the one hand due to the displacement of blood in the thoracic cavity and on the other hand due to the compression of the chest soil by water. This combined effect leads to a change in lung function, an increase in respiratory work and a change in respiratory dynamics. Hydrostatic compression, also, leads to elastic deformation of the chest wall, reduction of its submissiveness and negative respiratory pressure, while the total intrapulmonary pressure increases due to reduced pulmonary volume, which causes airway resistance to the air inlet. Therefore, the special exercise of the respiratory muscles could prevent the disturbance of the respiratory function and to substantially enhance the resistance of the exercisers to the water.

In cave therapy, many elements of the subsoil such as living conditions, low air mobility, low levels of dust, high levels of ionization, radiation are considered beneficial for the respiratory system.

Hydrotherapy is safe for patients with moderate to severe COPD, as a means of physiotherapy better than the corresponding on the ground. Also, Head Out of Water Immersion (HOWI) exercises, which used to be a contraindication, now seem to be beneficial for a portion of patients with mild illness. In hydrogen sulfide (H2S) inhalation therapy, long-term exposure to it does not appear to be harmful to COPD patients, but rather improves sputum quality.

In conclusion, hydrotherapy and inhalation therapy for COPD are beneficial, if applied correctly, especially for physiotherapy/pulmonary rehabilitation, the role of water exercises may be a better choice than conventional physiotherapy alone. Complementary therapies based on water or subsoil may be beneficial in specific patients. However, care must be taken in the choice of patients and the corresponding personalized method based on the principle of “benefit, or not harm”.