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Asthma sufferers warned against using 'salt rooms'

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People with asthma and similar respiratory conditions are being warned against using an increasingly popular alternative therapy conducted in ''salt rooms''.

People undergoing salt therapy inhale a dry aerosol solution to assist in the treatment of conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and eczema.

Salt room operators say the practice is safe and effective and has become increasingly popular in recent months thanks to publicity on commercial TV current affairs programs.

But a review of international and national practice guidelines and research conducted by Asthma Australia found that there there was no credible evidence to support the treatment.

Some respiratory specialists were also concerned that the inhalation of saline could cause asthmatics to suffer attacks.

A respiratory physician and chair of the Asthma Australia medical advisory committee, Simon Bowler, said he would advise asthma sufferers against undergoing salt treatment.

''If somebody inhaled significant concentrations of a salt solution it could actually bring on an asthma attack,'' Dr Bowler said.

''But if you're just sitting in a room with blocks of salt all around I don't think it will do anything one way or the other.''

There are currently no salt rooms operating in the ACT but The Canberra Times understands that at least one could open in the near future.

The operators of several interstate salt rooms said European studies had shown the efficacy of the treatment for people with respiratory problems.

The owner of the Salt Sanctuary in Brisbane, Dimitri Taylor, said he did not accept clients suffering from acute respiratory conditions unless they had approval from their doctors.

He said regular one-hour sessions had assisted many clients with respiratory conditions, including one boy with severe asthma.

''This child was in hospital every month for four months with several attacks before he came to us and he hasn't been back [to hospital] since, '' Mr Taylor said.

Dr Bowler said people at risk of asthma attacks because of recent high pollen counts and thunderstorms which released pollen into the atmosphere should have up-to-date asthma plans.

''That basically means that you bump up your preventive medication.''

People with concerns about managing asthma can contact the Asthma Foundation ACT on 02 6282 4186.

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