Steam Inhalation Benefits, Side Effects & How to Use

Blocked nasal passages during cold or sinuses can make it difficult to breathe. At times, it also causes sleep disturbance. One of the best home remedies that you can try for immediate relief from nasal blockage is steam inhalation. This blog explains the various benefits of steam inhalation.

What Is Steam Inhalation?

Steam inhalation is a simple process of taking in steam through your nose. The warm vapor provides moisture to the dry mucus membranes in the nose and throat. This helps loosen the mucus and provides relief from chest congestion. You can do steam inhalation with steam inhaler equipment, a bowl, a pan with hot water or by taking a steam bath.

Steam Inhalation Benefits

Steam inhalation is an age-old therapy to get relief in case of a blocked nose. You can also try it if you have a hoarse voice and dry throat or cough. Steam inhalation benefits have been discussed below in detail:

1. Improves Respiratory Health

Dirt and pollution in the air can cause lung infections and respiratory diseases. Regular steam inhalation can help treat respiratory infections and improve respiratory health because heat can kill bacteria or viruses in the nasal path, According to a study, steam inhalation was also considered an effective treatment for Covid-19 patients. Another study suggested that steam inhalation therapy helps reduce respiratory tract infection symptoms in children.

2. Helps Provide Relief from Bronchitis

An old study suggests that steam inhalation in bronchitis patients eases respiratory distress for a short time,

3. Helps Cure Sinus Issues

According to researchsteam inhalation can also help calm sinusitis symptoms like sore throat, headache, and blocked nose. However, it does not help with congestion.

Benefits of Steam Inhalation During Cold

Steam inhalation is beneficial to open blocked nasal passages during cold and sinusitis. Steam provides moisture to dry mucus membranes and loosens congestion in the chest, Also, the hot vapor can help reduce bacterial infections in the nasal passage and reduce common cold symptoms.

How to Use Steam Inhaler?

You can try steam inhalation at home by boiling water in a pan. However, the easiest way to do steam inhalation is with steam inhalers available in the market. Here is how to take steam at home:

  • Arrange the different parts of the steam inhaler together and add water to it.
  • Plug in the inhaler and let the water heat up for thirty seconds.
  • Bring your face above the steam inhaler. However, make sure that there is an appropriate distance because extremely hot vapor can cause burns.
  • Once the water gets heated, you can inhale the steam for 15 minutes. Inhale steam only from your nose and keep your mouth closed.
  • You can remove the plug of the inhaler for 1-2 minutes to ensure that the water doesn’t get too hot, or it can cause burns. You can also switch the inhaler to low heat settings, if possible.
  • You can also keep a towel above your head to cover yourself so that you can inhale steam properly.
  • Do not put excess water into the steam inhaler as it might spill out on getting heated.
  • Keep your eyes closed while inhaling.

Steam Inhalation Side Effects

Even though steam therapy is beneficial in colds and sinus issues, it can have harmful effects too. The following are some steam inhalation side effects:

1. Burn or Injury

During steam inhalation, you should avoid using hot or boiling water. Steam inhalation with extremely hot water can cause burns on the face or nasal region. Burn injuries due to steam inhalation are more common in children. According to a studyseveral children had been admitted to emergency care because of burn injuries caused by steam inhalation during Covid-19.

2. Eye Infection

Steam inhalation without taking proper precautions can also potentially cause harm to the eyes. Overdoing steam inhalation or adding essential or homemade oil to the water can reduce blood supply to the eyes and cause swelling or redness in the eyes.

3. Cell Damage

Steam inhalation for long may also damage the throat and nose cells. Hot vapor can also make the nerve cells numb or damage them. This weakens the immune system.

4. Skin Issues

Steam inhalation for a long time can make your skin dry as it opens the pores. This can lead to bacterial growth on the skin and cause acne, redness, and itching.

Steam Therapy for Lungs at Home

Steam therapy is an Ayurvedic remedy that is beneficial in treating respiratory tract infections. It involves steam inhalation by adding several natural herbs. According to researchtraditional antibacterial herbs like eucalyptus enhance the benefits of steam therapy.

Other herbs like mint, neem, tulsi, basil, and rosemary can also be used. Here is how you can do steam therapy for lungs at home:

  • Boil water in a pan and add 4-5 tulsi, eucalyptus, rose, or neem leaves.
  • Keep the water aside for 1-2 minutes and apply ghee on the nostrils.
  • Make a tent with a towel to cover your face and head.
  • Sit on a chair and bring your head above the bowl to inhale the steam.
  • You can inhale it for 8-10 minutes.

Steam therapy is beneficial in opening a blocked nasal passage and also provides relief from bronchitis symptoms.

Summing Up on Steam Inhalation

Steam inhalation is a simple, fast, and effective home remedy for temporary relief from nasal blockages during colds and sinusitis. It can also help prevent nasal allergies, but it cannot treat cold or sinusitis.

You should be extremely careful during steam inhalation. Excess hot vapor or steam inhalation for a long time can cause damage to the nose and throat cells and make your cold worse. Steam inhalation can also cause skin issues and swelling and redness in the eyes. It is safe to do steam inhalation for 10-12 minutes a day.

However, children below 12 should not be allowed to do steam inhalation.


Can Steam Inhalation Cause Loss of Smell?

Steam inhalation for sufficient time opens nasal passages and can help you get back your sense of smell. However, excessive steam inhalation can damage the nose cells or numb them. This can cause a temporary loss of smell,

Can a Nebulizer Be Used for Steam Inhalation?

No, a nebulizer should not be used for steam inhalation as it makes the vapor go to the chest directly. A nebulizer helps treat chest congestion. It may not help with nose blockage.

Is Steam Inhalation Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to take steam inhalation during pregnancy. It can help get relief from nasal blockage if you have a cold.