Asthma is one of the most common and costly diseases in the USA. An eye-staggering stat is that 1 American out of 13 has Asthma. As per CDC, the annual cost is $56 billion for Americans for asthma treatment like buying inhalers, talking therapies or other drugs.
So, are you looking for a home remedy for asthma? Steam inhalation is a widely used and common home therapy for asthma and other upper respiratory tract infections. Steam therapy reduces the chronic inflammatory response caused by asthma.
This guideline focuses comprehensively on “is steam inhalation good for asthma?”
What is Steam Inhalation?
Inhaling moist and warm vapors of boiling water is known as steam inhalation. Steam inhalation is an effective solution for opening blocked nasal passages and getting rid of sinus or cold infections. This process is also called steam therapy.
Moist and warm air loosens the mucus in the nasal passages, lungs and throat. As a result, people with respiratory problems get relief from inflammation in nasal passages.
Although, steam inhalation is not the first-line cure for flu or a cold or asthma. But a person will feel better while suffering from the mentioned respiratory complications.
Water vapor offers the below benefits:
- You will feel relaxed in the mucus of your nasal passages, throat and lungs as the vapor performs as a natural expectorant
- Improves blood flow in your respiratory system
- Causes mucus secretion from the throat and lungs, preventing mucus from drying out. It can help reduce shortness of breath
When individuals suffering from respiratory distress, bronchitis, etc., take steam therapy, they get relief from the problem within 24 hours.
Is Steam Inhalation Good for Asthma?
Let’s start with an interesting fact. The South region of the U.S., such as Alabama and Mississippi, has the lowest rate of asthma. The climate of the South region is hot and humid. The Southeast region also has hot yet dry weather. So, the lowest rate of asthma in the South and Southeast countries is probably not a coincidence.
German Scientists of the University of Munich researched in 1983 – 86 and found a correlation between hot, humid air and respiratory relief. They did a series of experiments at the Medical Balneology and Climatology Institute and found that steam improves asthma symptoms and helps relieve upper respiratory complications.
More importantly, the steam loosens mucus, assists people with bronchitis to feel better and reduces cough.
Asthma causes your lungs and throat to swell.
The process of steam therapy is simple to support the relief of the symptoms of respiratory disease. When you inhale the vapor, mucosal secretions occur, and airways get opened. Due to steam therapy, the mucous membrane stops drying and starts secretion of mucus from the throat and lungs.
A group of researchers in India applied steam therapy to some people suffering from bronchitis. Within 24 hours, the sufferers experienced a significant reduction in respiratory distress. Moreover, many people find steaming beneficial, especially before bed.
However, another clinical trial analyzed the use of steam inhalation in handling chronic sinus symptoms. The result was not satisfactory and beneficial in reducing common sinus symptoms and asthma except for a headache.
In summary, the clinical study result of steam inhalation and asthma is mixed. You will not get permanent relief from asthma by inhaling steam. But steam will help you in reducing,
- Dryness of throat
- Thick mucus
- Sufferings from asthma and bronchitis
- Stuffy nose
How to Inhale Steam?
For steam inhaling, you will require the following items.
- A bowl (large)
- A kettle or pot
- A stove or microwave for boiling the water
- A large towel
Find the below process and follow it carefully.
Step 01: Fill the Bowl with Water
Get a large bowl and fill it up with warm water.
Step 02: Boil the Water
You can boil the water by placing the bowl on a stove or putting it into a microwave. Whatever process you follow, make sure to heat the water to boiling.
Step 03: Pour the Boiled Water into a Pot or Kettle
Once the water is boiled, take the bowl off the microwave or stovetop. When doing so, use a rag to hold the bowl to save your hands from excessive heat. Then pour the boiled water into a pot or kettle carefully.
Step 04: Wrap Your Head with a Towel
Grab the towel and wrap it over your head.
Step 05: Turn the Timer On
You should start a timer on before beginning the final step.
Step 06: Lower Your Face Closer to the Pot or Kettle
Now, close your eyes. Lower your head slowly to the pot and kettle. Don’t go too close to the hot water. Keep an 8” – 12” distance between your face and pot. You have to be extremely careful to avoid direct contact with boiled water.
Step 07: Inhale Steam
Start inhaling steam. Go slowly and deeply. Continue inhaling for 2 – 5 minutes. Then give a 1-minute break and start again. Each session duration should be 10 – 15 minutes. You can inhale steam 2 – 3 times per day for the best result.
You can also get help from other devices like the airphysio opep device for mucus clearance. This device cleans your lung and increases lung capacity, helping people living with asthma breathe better. After using it, you will enjoy noticeably clearer breathing and lungs.
Side Effects of Steam Inhalation?
Most people do not know that the use of vapor inhalation for more than the prescribed time has a detrimental effect on health. The below organs are affected by the long-term method of vapor inhalation.
- Eye: You may welcome eye-related issues if you add any medication or oil with the boiled water when inhaling steam. Blood circulation to your eye muscles may hamper due to the medication or oil, and you can have serious eyesight problems. Dryness, swelling, or redness of the eye may happen if you inhale the vapor for a long time.
- Nose and Throat Cells: Nasal and throat cells may damage due to continuous vapor inhalation. That is why it is advised not to take vapor more than 2 – 3 times a day.
- Skin: Because of extreme vapor inhalation, your face and neck skin may become dry. In the worst-case scenario, bacterial skin infections may also occur. Burn injury is another issue that may arise from continuous steam inhalation.
- Nerve Cells: The cells of your nerve, nose and throat will be damaged for long application of steam or vapor. You may feel numbness in the cells since blood supply can reduce. In fact, your healthy body cells can have an adverse impact because of external heat for a prolonged period.
Burning is another common side effect of steam inhalation. Follow the below tips to avoid burning:
- Place the pot or kettle on an even surface to avoid knocked over
- Remember to keep your eyes closed when inhaling steam
- Avoid shaking the bowl
- Keep the bowl away from kids and pet
Important Note: Don’t apply steam inhalation to kids or children. The vapor inhalation process applies to adults only. A recent study showed that those who received burns from vapor applications were kids.
Steam inhalation is workable for people who have asthma, but you mustn’t consider it a permanent cure. This process clears and opens your nasal passages and relieves you from breathing problems.
Like many home remedies, vapor inhalation might work for some while unsuitable for others. The main fact is that your body's immune system should fight against the infections and help you get rid of the problem. Steam inhalation is only a process that works as a catalyst for fighting against asthma or other respiratory problems.
Hopefully, you got the answer, “is steam inhalation good for asthma.” Follow the vapor inhalation process attentively, and if you ever feel discomfort, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor.