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Steam inhalation is a common home remedy that is used to relieve symptoms of respiratory illness such as the accumulation of phlegm, nasal congestion, and a runny nose.
The practice of steam inhalation involves bringing hot water to a boil and placing the boiling water in a bowl. After placing a towel over their heads, people inhale the steam that rises out of the bowl. Some add citrus fruits like oranges, or herbs like thyme, or essential oils like eucalyptus oil to the water.
In early 2020, multiple viral Facebook posts claimed that steam inhalation can cure COVID-19. They maintained that steam inhalation is a simple remedy that could treat the symptoms of COVID-19 because its symptoms are similar to that of the cold and the flu.
Healthcare experts have conflicting opinions on the use of steam inhalation therapy to treat COVID-19. While most experts argue that steam inhalation therapy will not cure COVID-19, the results of a recent Italian study on steam inhalation for COVID-19 found that steam inhalation helped treat COVID-19.
What Do Different Experts Think?
1- Steam Inhalation Helps Treat COVID-19:
Some experts believe that steam inhalation helps treat COVID-19 because the humidified hot air deactivates and kills viral particles in the nasal passages, preventing them from reaching the lungs.
Although scientists have refuted this claim, a recent study conducted in late 2020 by Italian researchers found that COVID-19 patients who tried steam inhalation therapy experienced benefits.
The study indicates that steam inhalation helps reduce “viral shedding” in people infected with the coronavirus. It found that participants who tried steam inhalation tested negative on the first day and showed a weak positive three days later, eventually testing negative on the tenth day. It calls for larger, more controlled studies on the topic to validate its promising results.
Mr. Nilesh Jogal, an expert in Ayurvedic medicine and founder of the Jogi Ayurved Hospital in Surat, Gujarat, India recommends steam inhalation for two minutes to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus. He claims that he and his hospital staff, who treat coronavirus patients every day, were not infected with the virus because they practiced steam inhalation.
2- Steam Inhalation Doesn’t Help Treat COVID-19:
Many doctors argue that steam inhalation doesn’t cure people of the virus and remind them that it should be only used to relieve symptoms of the common cold. They also caution against using steam inhalation to treat COVID-19 because people might accidentally touch the steaming bowl or spill boiling water, which increases their risk of burn injuries.
Dr. Mobeen Syed M.D., CEO of Drbeen Corp., an online platform for medical lectures, argues that steam inhalation cannot kill the virus. He points out that the coronavirus can be killed if it is exposed to a temperature of 56 degrees Celsius for fifteen minutes.
However, Syed says, “our cells can only tolerate up to 41 degrees centigrade of heat.” If our cells are exposed to temperatures that are higher than 41 degrees, the proteins inside our cells become denatured. This disrupts various cellular mechanisms in our body and may even kill healthy cells in our nasal passages or lungs. People also risk damaging the cells in their bodies if they engage in steam inhalation.
Furthermore, health experts point out that there is very little evidence to support the use of steam inhalation for COVID-19. There have been multiple studies showing that steam inhalation has no effect on any respiratory virus.
For instance, the 2017 study, “Heated, humidified air for the common cold” found that there is little evidence to suggest that steam inhalation can kill the virus responsible for the common cold. If steam inhalation cannot kill the common cold virus, it is highly unlikely that it will kill the coronavirus which is even more potent than the common cold.
Another review, “Should Steam Inhalation be used in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19,” found that the scientific evidence concerning the use of steam inhalation for COVID-19 was “insufficient.” It also warns that steam inhalation “can cause harm” because it increases the risks of “scald burns.”
Therefore, doctors warn that using steam inhalation therapy will not cure people of COVID-19.
What Do You Think?
Share your thoughts on this topic in the forum below. Vote “YES” if you think steam inhalation helps treat COVID-19 or “NO” if you think it doesn't.