Cold and flu are common ailments that people of all ages may experience from time to time. Countries with temperate climates experience the surge of flu more in the winter season. But in tropical countries like Malaysia where the temperature remains hot all-year-long has no specific months where the flu is most prevalent. It remains active throughout the year.
When one is contracted with the cold or flu, they may experience symptoms like fever, chills, tiredness and cough. They are viral infections that infect the respiratory tract, including the nose and throat and sometimes the flu may affect the lungs too. Worthy of note, cold and flu are not one and the same. They are caused by different viruses and the latter usually has worse and prolonged symptoms.
People are usually bothered by the irritating cough that many people use home remedies as an adjunct to the medications prescribed by their doctor. Among them is steam inhalation for throat infections. In this article we shall discuss how inhaling steam helps in containing throat infections, and how effective it is in treating your illness.
When you develop a throat infection, your throat will be inflamed, it will be hot and swollen, you feel your throat dry and painful, and your respiratory passages might be having a lot of mucus. Steam inhalation will cause the warm water vapour to reach your nose and throat. The steam hydrates the inflamed throat, reducing the irritation. Next, the steam thins and loosen up the mucus so that the phlegm can be easily coughed out. Your symptoms can improve after about 5 minutes of steam inhalation. Your cough will improve and your air passage may clear up.
Steam inhalation may provide temporary relief from cold, flu, nasal allergies and sinus infections. Although steam inhalation may provide relief from these symptoms, they don’t necessarily speed up the healing time. Most of the healing process is done by the body’s own immune system.
Steam inhalation will not be able to kill any viruses and bacteria. The heat reaching the microorganisms is not significant enough to cause their degradation.
And sometimes, infections may extend lower down the respiratory tract involving the trachea, bronchi or lungs. The water particles in steam that you inhale are large, therefore, unable to reach further than the throat. In hospitals, they use nebulisers that can create mists which are having smaller water particles. This can be used to effectively deliver moisture and medication all the way to the lungs and the smaller airways.
Steam inhalation can pose another obvious danger while attempting it. Younger children in particular are exposed to risks of burn and scalding from steam inhalation. The process of delivering the steam can be stressful for children. They are more inclined to move about, get agitated, and get the steaming hot water to splash on their face and body. Therefore, it is not advisable for parents to subject their young ones to this particular home remedy for fear of a greater harm.
If you are going to try steam inhalation, you would need a timer, a large bowl, boiling water, and a towel. Pour the boiling water carefully into the bowl, drape the towel over your head from the back, turn the timer on and slowly lower your head until your face is about 8 to 12 inches off the boiling water. Avoid excessive and careless movements that can agitate the water. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply through your nose for about 5 minutes. You can repeat this for 2 to 3 times a day with no more than 15 minutes for each session.
To sum up, steam inhalation is a home remedy that can be used to alleviate the symptoms of throat infections. It does not help in treating the condition nor does it speed the healing process. If you are experiencing worsening of symptoms, it is best for you to consult your doctor immediately.