One of the most common home remedies being used to get relief from the symptoms of COVID-19 is steam inhalation. Though it was initially meant for congestion in the chest but nowadays it is extensively used to clear the nasal passage as well. The inhalation of steam works on the principle of inhaling the vapour given out by the water in the base container. The warm vapour helps on clearing the congestion in the nose. The rigid mucus starts melting and clear the passage in the lungs and throat too. This practice might not cure the infection fully but it will surely support the breathing cavity.
Steam inhalation does not exactly kill the virus that is causing the infection. But, the steaming process just makes you feel a little better as your body fights your cold. Don’t steam for more than 10 to 15 minutes for each session. However, you can repeat steaming process two to three times in a day if you are still having any symptoms. In order to make this activity as a practice, it becomes necessary to understand the benefits and side effects of the steam inhalation. Read this article further to know more about this.
Benefits of steam inhalation
You should not rely on just steam inhalation to treat health conditions, but it is better to consult a doctor and do this natural remedy at home alongside. For your better understanding, here are the main benefits of steam inhalation:
1. Clears your sinuses
Steam inhalation is a conventional method used as a home remedy for coping up with common cold and upper respiratory tract infections. The main benefit of inhaling in moist, warm steam is that it can help in reducing irritation and swollen blood vessels in the nasal passage. The vapour can also support thinning of the mucus in your sinuses, which allows them to clear out easily.
2. Helps with proper breathing and sore throat
Another benefit of steam inhalation is that it helps with better breathing and easing sore throat. It relaxes your throat muscles, reduces soreness and inflammation and dilates blood vessels, hence enhancing the blood circulation. This ensures breathing to return back to normal, thus help you to breathe well.
3. Eases congestion
Water vapor is also helpful in fighting congestion but do not make it so hot that you are not able to put your face above the water bowl. Make sure you take steam inhalation atleast twice a day to alleviate congestion in the lungs. The blockage will clear out your respiratory tract and make your health condition better.
4. Better sleep
According to a study, steam inhalation also helps in providing quality sleep. Relaxation techniques such as meditation also helps in better sleeping pattern. Similarly, steam therapy helps in breathing in a better way and can relax your mind and body. Thus, playing a major role in sleep quality. In fact, insomniacs can also try steam inhalation before going to bed at night.
Risks of steam inhalation
Steam inhalation is considered as a safe home remedy if used it the correct manner. However, there are possibilities that you might get injured so you have to be very careful. Here are the main risks of steam inhalation:
1. Can cause burns if not careful
There is a huge risk of hurting yourself if you make contact with the hot water. Another risk is mistakenly falling the bowl of hot water on your lap, which can cause severe burns in sensitive areas. Steam inhalation is not suggested to children due to the risk of burns. In fact, according to a study, most of the people who get burns from steaming process are children. But, you can make your child sit in a steamy bathroom and run hot water in the shower to enjoy the same benefits as steam inhalation.
2. Steam vaporizers might have germs
You can also buy an electric steam inhaler (also called a vaporizer) online or from the market. For this, you just need to pour water to the level indicated and plug in the system. The vaporizer uses electricity to produce steam that cools before exiting the machine. Some vaporizers are available with a built-in mask that is to be put around your mouth and nose. But, the risk is that steam vaporizers can get easily dirty with germs, so there is a requirement of washing it more often to prevent any bacterial and fungal infection. You should wash the bucket and filter system after every few days of using it.
How to take steam?
- A big bowl
- A pot or kettle and a stove for boiling the water
- Dry towel
- Heat up the water for a few minutes until it starts boiling
- Carefully pour the hot water into the bowl
- Put the towel over the back of your head
- Then, start a timer for 2 to five minutes
- Close your eyes and slowly lower your head towards the hot water bowl until you are around 8 to 12 inches away from the water
- You have to be very careful to avoid making direct contact with the water
- Inhale the vapour slowly and deeply through your nose for atleast two to five minutes
So, these were the benefits and side effects of steam inhalation. This can be an effective way to clear your nasal and respiratory passages when you fall ill with a cold or flu, but it cannot treat your infection. You can use this as a home remedy after talking to your doctor. What works for one person might not work for you. Use it carefully and avoid any burns as steam can be even more dangerous than boiling water burns. If you experience any discomfort, pain, or irritation from using steam therapy, stop using it immediately.
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