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Steam Inhalation Benefits, Side Effects & More

steam inhalation

Steam inhalation is one of the most common home remedies often employed to help your nasal passages open so as to help you get relief from sinus infection or common cold.

Steam inhalation is also known by another term as steam therapy. In this therapy, the person has to inhale water vapor.

In this process, the most air plays a crucial role in by loosening the mucus of your throat, lung and nasal passages. Due to this, it helps you relieve the symptoms of swollen and inflamed blood vessels of your nasal passage.

Please note that steam inhalation is just a remedy as it doesn’t cure a viral infection or any other type of infection like flu. Once you get the steam through your nasal passages, it gives you a lot of relaxation.

Since it gives loads of relaxation, you really need to learn some of the best practices of steam inhalation in the right ways.


What are the benefits of steam inhalation?

Steam inhalation works best when you suffer from common cold. It works by opening your nasal passages blocked due to common cold or other sinus infection.

For example, you might have come across stuffy nose triggered by inflammation in the blood vessels of the sinuses.

Most of the times, these blood vessels get irritated due to an infection in the upper respiratory tract which is also known as sinus infection or common cold.

In this kind of therapy, you have to breathe in warm and moist steam that quickly ease the feeling of irritation and swollen blood vessels in your nasal passages.

The moisture that goes inside your nasal passages also makes the mucous thinner in your sinuses. And this easily allows your breathing to return to normal. You are required to repeat the process for 3-4 times in a day to get relief.

In short, you can ay that steam inhalation can provide you relief from some other known problems with symptoms like:

  • Nasal allergies
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinus infection (sinusitis)
  • Influenza (Flu)
  • Common cold

Steam inhalation (in most cases) gives you temporary relief from common cold and other nasal infection. In other words, it will give you temporary relief from symptoms of common cold and other nasal infection.

Steam inhalation works best only by giving you temporary relief from symptoms and in no way kills the virus responsible to cause infection.

In the past, there have been so many trials on steam inhalation. When the results of these trials were analyzed, researches got mix reviews. While some got relief, others didn’t. In addition to this, there were some participants who experienced discomfort inside their nose from steam inhalation.

According to another recent clinical trial was conducted in treating chronic sinus symptoms. In the trial, it could not be established that steam inhalation was actually beneficial for majority of sinus related symptoms except headache.

Although, researches got mixed reviews on clinical studies, there are some evidences that suggest steam inhalation helps alleviate symptoms like

  • Cough
  • Dry or irritated nasal passage
  • Breathing issues due to airway congestion
  • Throat infection
  • Stuffy nose
  • Headache

How to inhale steam

In order to inhale steam in the best possible ways, youi will require the following:

  • Towel
  • Kettle or a pot for heating up water
  • Water
  • A large bowl                                                                                                                                        

Take a look at the entire process in which it is done in the best possible manner:

  • First, heat up the water to the boiling point
  • Next, pour the hot water into the bowl
  • Try to drape the towel over the back of your head
  • Turn on a timer
  • Shut your eyes by lowering your head towards the hot water
  • Be careful not to be in the direct contact with the hot water
  • Finally, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for 2-5 minutes

Make sure that for each session, you don’t steam for more than 10 minutes. At the same time you can repeat the process of steam inhalation many times during the day.

It’s better you purchase an electric steam inhaler (vaporizer). It’s quite simply to use. All you need is to pour water into the container. Add water up to the level indicted.

The vaporizer makes use of electricity to create steam that comes out within sometime before it exiting. There are some vaporizers that come with a mask that closely fits around your nose and mouth.

Once you start using a steam vaporizer quite frequently, you are also required to wash it at regular interval of time. This is mainly to prevent it from bacterial and fungal growth.


Side effects of steam inhalation

Although, steam inhalation is considered a safe home remedy to prevent yourself from common cold and other symptoms, the process sometimes gets you hurt if you are not careful.

The main issue comes when you contact with hot water. And if it does happen, the chances are that it makes you scalding at any time.

The biggest risk comes accidentally knocking over the bowl of hot water into your lap. Doing this can cause severe burns in your sensitive areas.


In order to avoid burns:

  • Keep the hot water out of reach of children
  • Simply avoid making direct contact of your eyes with steam. Your eyes need to be closed and away from the steam
  • You don’t have to shake or lean at the bowl
  • Please make sure the hot water bowl is on a level and can’t be knocked over

Please note that steam inhalation is not recommended for children mainly due to the risk involved of getting burned.

Studies conducted in this regard states that majority of people who received burn injuries during steam inhalation were children.



Steam inhalation is recommended to be the most effective home remedy to clear your respiratory and nasal passages. It’s recommended when you become a victim of common cold or flu like symptoms.

When you have to imply any such technique to get rid of common cold symptoms, you are advised to proceed with a grain of salt.

In case, you come across any discomfort or any other issue by taking steam inhalation, you are advised to immediately stop practicing it.

If your symptoms are not going away even after a week, you need to consult with your doctor for proper medication.


Also Read: Transient Lingual Papillitis (Lie Bumps) Features, Causes & Treatment Tips


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