Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often suffer from exacerbations caused by infections of the bronchial tract. Objective: What effects do hydrotherapeutic applications according to Kneipp have on lung function, blood gases, immune system and quality of life of patients with COPD? Patients and Methods: 20 patients with COPD (17 males, 3 females); mean age: 64; forced exspiratory volume (FEV1): 62 of 100% (on anverage); no acute exacerbations, no oral corticosteroids. Measurements were performed (I) at 10 weeks pre-treatment, (II) immediately before therapy (I–II: baseline-period), (III) after 10 weeks treatment with 3 cold affusions and 2 cold washings of the upper part of the body (self-treatment) per week each, (IV) 3 months after completion of the treatment (follow- up). The following parameters were measured: lung function, blood gases, routine lab, experimental lab (interleukines, lymphocytes), maximal exspiratory flow (PEF), quality of life and respiratory infections. Results: The pH increased over the course of the study. PEF and the number of lymphocytes significantly increased over the treatment (II–III). Intracellular expression of IL-4 by T lymphocytes decreased. However, the expression of IFN-γ increased. Frequency of infections was lower during follow-up (IV) than before and during therapy. Quality of life after treatment was estimated to be good in all patients. Conclusions: Repeated cold stimulations (affusions) can influence the frequency of respiratory infections and improve subjective well-being. It may cause an immunological modulation in terms of the Th1-type pattern.

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