You always know when that pesky early spring cold or flu is about to hit – the sudden difficulty in breathing, the cough, the aches. Or when allergy season comes – always earlier than you think, right? There’s nothing pleasant about the sensation of blocked sinuses, runny noses, or watery eyes. Just when the world is starting to warm up and bloom beautifully all around you, you suddenly feel miserable and just want to crawl under the covers.
But steam can help combat that congestion, giving you relief when you need it most. Inhaling steam — a natural remedy as ancient as a pot of steam boiling on an open fire — is reputed to clear congestion, improve breathing and kill off cold viruses, which are sensitive to heat. The most common cause of colds, the rhinovirus, is inactivated at temperatures above 109 degrees Fahrenheit according to laboratory studies. Steam can be incredibly helpful if you suffer from a cold, wheezing chest, sinus discomfort, and other ailments, please do be aware that it is in no way a substitute for medical advice.
Why am I suffering this way?
Upper respiratory infection, or URI, is a generic term for an infection of the nose, mouth, throat, sinuses, larynx and pharynx, which make up the upper respiratory system. They are more common in the winter and early spring because people tend to stay indoors, sharing the same germ-laden re-circulated air. Most are viral, which means that antibiotics won’t cure them. So what can you do?
While many people reach for over-the-counter remedies, their effectiveness can wane over time. WebMD proposes eight home remedies to help you feel better faster:
- Blow your nose frequently. The way to avoid an earache is by pressing a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other. Always wash your hands after blowing your nose.
- Get plenty of rest to help your body combat the infection.
- Gargle using salt water, astringent tea, or a mixture of honey and apple cider.
- Drink hot liquids, such as tea or that old standby, chicken soup.
- Apply hot or cold packs around your congested sinuses for relief.
- Keep your head elevated while sleeping by adding an extra pillow.
- Don’t fly unless you must. The changes in air pressure can exacerbate your symptoms.
- Take a steamy shower.
That last piece of advice is where your MrSteam home steam shower can become a vital part of helping get relief as you recover.
What can steamtherapy do for my congestion?
Steam inhalation introduces warm, moist air into the lungs via the nose and throat, providing soothing relief. The hot steam moistens the nasal passages and relaxes you, thus clearing your blocked nose and opening up congested sinuses, all of which allow you to breathe more easily.
The hot steam circulating around your body and in your lungs, causes the temperature to rise and consequently blood vessels to dilate. This can improve blood circulation. Your immune system reacts to this rise in temperature by increasing the production and action of white blood cells. White blood cells helps you resist bacteria and germs.
MrSteam’s created a list, Over 40 Benefits Associated with Steambathing, that points out several ways in which your steam shower can help you feel better, faster if you are suffering from congestion and other related symptoms. Here are just a few.
- Improves breathing; opens up nasal passages related to symptoms of allergies.
- Improves breathing; opens up nasal passages related to symptoms of viruses.
- Hot mist helps to promote sinus drainage.
- Hot mist helps to loosen bronchial secretions.
- May provide temporary relief of asthma-type symptoms.
- Hot mist soothes the throat.
- Warm mist helps decrease symptoms due to croup.
- Acts as a natural expectorant.
Add aromatherapy to enhance your results
Steam treatment on its own effectively fights respiratory congestion, but aromatherapy can add additional benefits. MrSteam Essential Oils can also help promote a sense of calm and well-being.
The best aromas to use for cold or flu symptoms are those with expectorant and detoxifying properties:
- Eucalyptus - A deeply refreshing aroma with cleansing effects, eucalyptus may help open air passageways. Eucalyptus is antiviral, antibacterial and decongestant, making it the ideal aroma to combat colds, coughs, and sinus infections.
- Lavender - A sweet, lightly floral scent, lavender may help soothe anxiety with its calming and restorative properties. Lavender is antibacterial, antiviral, decongestant and relaxing, making it a natural scent to help with colds, sinus infections, and sore throats.
- Evergreen - A refreshing blend of spruce, fir and pine reminiscent of a forest on a crisp morning, this aroma is a good decongestant.
- Breathe – As its name suggests, this tropical combination may help clear chest, nose, and sinuses.
Next time you suffer from an upper respiratory infection, consider trying the combination of steam and aromatherapy – and we hope that you’ll experience sweet relief as a result.
Just remember, serious conditions can masquerade as the common cold and a mild infection can become something more serious. If you have severe symptoms or are feeling more ill with each passing day, we encourage you to make an appointment to see a doctor.