From Steam Bath to Nebulizers: How To Inhale Properly

In these trying times of pandemic, COVID-19 forces us to stay indoors. With cold symptoms, we worry if do have a simple cold or if we have acquired the COVID disease. Inhalation therapy is usually a good therapeutic measure for COVID-19 sufferers.

The cold has a firm grip on us. The head is buzzing. Our nose is blocked. We cough up secretions. Now it is time to provide relief. A traditional remedy is the steam bath: Inhaling with steam is beneficial and clears our airways.

Inhaling Steam

When you inhale, you breathe in droplets and tiny particles called aerosols. They get deep into your airways.

Inhalation is often a suitable therapeutic measure to relax the muscles around the lungs, allowing us to breathe easily in times of colds and other illnesses such asthma and other respiratory-related diseases. Regular inhalation, especially in the autumn and winter months, helps to avoid infection. Because inhaling with steam or with saline solution liquefies stuck secretions and facilitates the removal of the germs.

Water bath in the bowl

The steam bath is a tried and tested home remedy for colds. The effectiveness has been proven for centuries. To use the traditional remedy for cough and nasal congestion, all you need is a bowl, hot water, salt or essential oils.

Steam bath with bowl: how to do it

Add boiling water to a bowl or saucepan along with the essential oils or fresh herbs you want. You breathe in the steam by holding your head over the jar. Place a towel over your head and container. This will prevent the water vapor from escaping.

However, be aware of the downside to this relatively simple method. There is a serious risk of scalding if the bowl falls over. In addition, the container may become very hot. This makes contact painful. In addition, the steam from water and essential oils unnecessarily irritates the eyes.

Steam inhalers for the treatment of cold symptoms

So-called steam inhalers made of plastic are increasingly being used. They only cover the mouth and nose and thus specifically protect the eyes. Other advantages of most steam inhalers are increased efficiency: no steam is lost. In addition, steam inhalers can be used for longer. Because the hot water cools down more slowly due to the insulation.

Some inhalers are sold with a premixed composition of essential oils, the amount and concentration of which is specifically tailored to the particular inhaler.

Inhale properly with a nebulizer

Steam inhalers are not suitable for the inhalation of solid components – for example salt – as only highly volatile components pass into the gas phase. In such cases, it is advisable to use nebulizers or electronic inhalers to treat a cold or its symptoms such as coughing and nasal congestion.

Nebulizers are also particularly suitable for dissolving mucus deep in the bronchi, as the fine water mist penetrates particularly deep into the lungs.

Inhale: tips to inhale properly with inhalation devices

  • Use only watertight and stable containers.
  • Ideally, inhale 2 to 4 times a day.
  • To do this, take an upright position while sitting.
  • Inhale for about 10 minutes at a time.
  • If there are problems with the bronchi, it is advisable to inhale through the mouth and exhale through the nose. In this way, the active ingredient is sent directly to the bronchi and not first filtered through the nose.
  • After inhaling, hold your breath for up to 10 seconds so that the active ingredients can fully develop their healing effects. You should then wait about a minute before inhaling again.
  • Thoroughly clean the inhalation tube after each use. In this way, you avoid the spread of germs and unnecessary hygienic risks.
  • Most inhalers are also shipped with instructions for use, which should be followed in order to achieve the maximum effect.

Tips for the water bath

  • Keep a safe distance from the hot vessel. There is a risk of scalding, especially for children.
  • The water is warm but does not have to boil.
  • Breathe normally when you inhale.
  • Every now and then, air the towel. This is how to avoid dizziness.
  • If you are older, take some rest after inhaling to keep your circulation stable.

In general, the inhalation method is recommended if you want to transport active ingredients into the mucous membranes or even deep into the bronchi. The hot steam humidifies and soothes mucous membranes when inhaled and loosens tough mucus. The additional addition of essential oils improves the expectorant effect against colds and other respiratory problems. For example, chamomile, eucalyptus, camphor and cineole or salt are used as additives.