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Myths Vs. Facts About Steam Inhalations

There are innumerable social media forwards that portray steam inhalations as some sort of panacea. Well, it’s not. And it’s time to debunk such myths in this blog.

Steam Inhalations

Are you suffering from a stuffy nose or facing nasal congestion? You might have already received unsolicited advice from a family member or a friend to try steam inhalations. Despite the advancements in the medical industry, this age-old therapy, which has been passed down through the generations, is still the most trusted remedy for the common cold and nasal congestion. This is a misguided belief and can pose serious health risks for children and adults.

Before we gear up for our role as myth busters, let’s briefly understand what’s steam inhalation and how it works. Steam inhalation is one of the most commonly used home remedies for soothing and relieving blocked nasal passages. In certain cases, it is also believed to help reduce the symptoms of sinus infection.

Also referred to as steam therapy and recommended by some health care experts, it involves inhaling hot water vapor. The hot vapor apparently works wonders for loosening the mucus in the lungs, nasal passages, and throat. You can easily try it at home by boiling water in a vessel or pan. But let’s not digress and keep you waiting anymore. It is time to debunk some myths about steam inhalation.

Myth: Steam Inhalations Can Reach Lower Airways

Fact: Contrary to common perception, inhaling hot steam isn’t effective for lower airways. Steam can reach the upper airways, such as the nose and throat, but when it comes to the lungs, this revered home remedy falls flat. Often, thick mucus finds a safe home in your bronchi and lungs. Therefore, trying steam for lower airways often ends in a futile effort.

Myth: Inhaling Steam Is An Effective Covid-19 Treatment

Fact: This is false. While the worst is behind us, some Covid cases are still registered across different parts of the world. Therefore, it becomes important to debunk this myth.

In the past couple of years, a plethora of doctors has advised patients not to fall for this myth. Although you can eliminate the virus on the surface using 70 degrees Celsius boiling hot water, there is no evidence proving to inhale hot steam cures Covid.

Myth: Steam Inhalation Has No Side Effects

Fact: Inhaling steam regularly might seem like one of the best health tips, but it also brings along a huge risk of hurting yourself. You might be wondering how I can hurt myself with the hot vapor. For starters, since it is boiling hot water, even a small contact can leave burn marks on your skin, which can take days to heal completely.

The pan used for steam is going to be extremely hot. Imagine if the pan falls on your feet or lap by mistake. Wouldn’t it leave serious burns in these sensitive areas? Of course, but that’s just the first part of this story. In some cases, people also experience temporary loss of smell. Shocking, isn’t it? Well, steam can definitely open nasal passages, but if you excessively rely on hot vapor to treat cold, then you also risk to damage the nose cells.

Wait, there’s more to the long list of side effects involving hot vapor. Continued steam can damage the throat and nerve cells. It can numb or impair the normal functioning of these cells. Steam therapy also reduces blood supply to these cells, thus further damaging the cell structure.


When it comes to your health, you should always trust scientifically proven treatments for dealing with a serious health condition. Having said that, if you still want to go ahead with a home remedy like steam inhalation, at least consult a doctor to get their expert opinion about your condition.

While you may think that an ad-hoc approach can save you some money, it can also have adverse side effects. So instead of taking health tips from random people and falling for some myths, stick to health experts and save yourself from serious health complications.

Abhisek is a content creator. He loves to write on various niches including home decor, health, and travel. When not writing, he spends his waking hours reading novels on psychology and human behaviour.

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