Most people propose inhaling steam in the incidence of a cold to open and soothe the blocked nasal passage. But is it worthwhile? While steam inhalation may not cure the infection, it can help bring relief from the irritating symptoms of sinus or cold as the body tries to fight off the infection. Steam therapy involves inhaling hot water vapours which may loosen the mucus present in the nasal channels, throat and lungs thereby easing the discomfort and distress. However, it is essential to learn how to safely use steam for cold lest you suffer an unwanted accident.
Benefits of Steam Inhalation for Cold
Some of the benefits of steam during cold may include the following:
1. Alleviates Soreness
Steam for sinus is particularly beneficial as steam inhalation moisturises irritated, dry nasal and throat routes, thus improving inflammation and pain.
2. Liquefies Mucous Secretions
Taking in steam supposedly softens the mucous discharge, leading to clearer emissions which are relatively easier to eject by blowing the nose or coughing.
3.Respite From Cough
Breathing in steam can assist in relaxing the throat muscles, which in turn may reduce the cough reflex significantly.
4. It Is Totally Natural
Steam therapy is completely natural and does not have any harmful side effects. Steam is simply droplets of water. Our bodies constitute almost 70 per cent water. So, it is a way of replenishing our body’s natural element.
5. It Is Economical
Taking steam therapy hardly costs anything. Even if you invest in a hand-held inhaler or steam vaporiser unit, it is not heavy on the pocket. Plus, these purchases may last you many seasons of cold and flu.
How to Use Steam Therapy for Cough and Cold?
Many people may like to know how to take steam for cough. Here is how you can do it:
What You Will Need
Steam equipment for cold may comprise the following things:
- A big bowl
- Clean water
- A kettle or a stove/microwave to heat up the water
- A large towel
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Transfer the hot, steaming water into the big bowl carefully and place it on a flat firm surface.
- Cover your head completely with the large towel till the back of the head to form a kind of tent.
- Bend over the bowl and shut your eyes.
- Hold your head at around 8 to 12 inches above the bowl.
- Set a timer for about 5 minutes.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply via the nose.
You can also run a warm shower and take in the steam. Adding a few drops of essential oils may be a good idea. You can consider using a hand-held portable vapour inhaler as well, for they are convenient and may be carried anywhere you like. Warm steam vaporisers are another great option. They are electrical units which generate a steady stream of hot humid air to lighten cold symptoms. You can run them for about 10 to 12 hours overnight ensuring a constant flow of moistened air which may induce comfort and promote a good night’s sleep.
Precautions to Take While Inhaling Steam
Steam inhalation, if done correctly, is a safe procedure. But you can hurt yourself inadvertently if not careful. There is a possible risk of getting scalded because of the hot water, especially if you happen to knock over the bowl containing the steaming water. Certain precautions to bear in mind while inhaling steam can be:
- Ensure that you put the bowl of warm water on a levelled stable surface to negate its chances of falling over.
- Do not lean too close over the bowl as you may sustain burn injuries.
- Remember to close your eyes during the inhalation process.
- Make sure that there are no children or pets around when you are doing the steam therapy through traditional methods to safeguard against any undesirable incidents.
- It may be safer to use an electric vaporiser for children rather than the conventional way of using a bowl of warm water.
- Refrain from inhaling the steam for more than 10 minutes for every session. You can always repeat the steam therapy two to three times a day to get the desired relief.
- In case you are using an electric vaporiser for inhaling the steam, be sure to clean its filter and bucket properly after every use to prevent fungal and bacterial growth.
Some frequently asked questions are:
1.Does Inhaling Steam Clear Our Lungs?
Steam inhalation introduces moist, warm air into the lungs which may clear the clogged passages and provide ease from the congestion. Additionally, you can add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil to the warm water and then inhale to cleanse the lungs naturally.
2.Is It Harmful to Stand Over the Humidifier and Inhale the Vaporous Steam?
No, it is not harmful. Humidifiers are quite safe to use. The main aim of a humidifier is for the sick person to take in the vaporous steam. Simply confirm that the humidifier is clean, as bacteria and moulds tend to flourish in murky, warm water.
3.Is Steam Good for Nose Congestion, but Harmful for the Lungs?
Steam may help ease out some of the nasal congestion. However, chronic nasal congestion may require saline nasal irrigation wherein the excess mucus is flushed out from the nasal cavity. Steam is not likely to harm the lungs. The moist air can help to slacken mucus and lessen congestion and coughing.
4.Does Steam Help a Baby’s Cold?
Yes, steam cleaning can help release congestion and dismiss some of the uneasiness of the cold.
Thus, a dose of hot, humidified air can make a considerable difference for sneezing, sniffling cold sufferers. But be careful while using it to protect yourself against the risk of probable burns and injuries owing to tumbled hot water. However, in case you fail to get any relief from steam therapy even after a week or so, it is wise to consult a doctor.