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Natural Ways to Combat the Cold and Flu Season

Sick of Being Sick?

Fight Back Against Colds & Flu. Here's why Steam Therapy may be your secret weapon against these common illnesses.

You know how it starts: scratchy throat, runny nose, a bit of fatigue—here it comes…another cold. It seems like the cold and flu season gets longer every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between 35 and 50 million Americans contract the flu each year. That’s anywhere from 5-20% of the entire population. An average of 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu annually, with the disease causing anywhere from 3,000-49,000 deaths every year.

The common cold, while less severe than the flu, is more ubiquitous. Adults suffer an average of two or three colds each year, and children as many as 6-10. Your odds of getting a cold are higher in the winter and spring, but you can get one anytime of the year. And even though colds are less of a health threat than the flu, they can keep you on the sidelines for 7-10 days. Worse, if you suffer from asthma or any other lung disorder, you could potentially develop pneumonia or bronchitis after catching a cold.

Colds and flu run up a huge price tag as well. Flu victims spend an annual $10.4 billion on hospitalization and outpatient visits every year (with $16.3 billion in lost earnings). As for the common cold, research has found that this familiar illness costs the U.S. economy as much as $40 billion per year!

It’s time to get serious about fighting the viruses that can cause these common illnesses. It begins with prevention. While you know about flu shots and frequently washing your hands, there are a few powerful natural treatments that can help protect you from catching a cold or flu.

Some of these preventive treatments may surprise you. For example, did you know that sessions in a steam room can help you avoid catching viruses that cause colds and flu, while also relieving symptoms that result from these diseases?

Sure, you may have even used steam from a hot shower or a bowl of hot water to help clear out your sinuses, but that’s no match for a whole-body treatment. Steam showers are a vastly improved application of at home steam therapy than the ritual of putting a towel over your head and leaning over a bowl of hot water. That’s because steam rooms provide a systemic physiological response that can help you avoid a range of illnesses.

Steam therapy may just be the home remedy you’re missing in your overall wellness regimen. Read on.

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There are more than 200 viruses that can cause a cold, and flu strains vary from year to year. In other words, there’s no magic bullet, but if you try to follow the list below, you’ll help build up your defenses. As always, consult your physician to see if you’re healthy enough to use nutritional supplements or engage in physical activity.

Natural Ways to Potentially Protect Yourself from a Cold or Flu

  • Take echinacea. This plant extract has been shown by research to increase white blood cells, which may help prevent cold and flu viruses.

  • Take zinc. When taken as a lozenge, zinc may help kill viruses in your mouth and throat before they can take hold. Zinc also helps boost the immune system.

  • Use probiotics. These beneficial gut bacteria don’t just aid digestion, they can help strengthen your body’s overall immune response. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking probiotics can lower your chances of getting a cold and shorten the severity of symptoms.

  • Get adequate sleep. Getting 7-9 hours of restful sleep a night is one of the best ways to prevent colds and flu, according to research.

  • Exercise. Regular physical activity can bolster immunity and help reduce inflammation, two natural defenses that help the body fight viral infection.

  • Reduce stress. Stress hormones like cortisol can weaken your immunity and make you vulnerable to germs and viruses. Try to find stress reduction techniques that work for you, such as meditation, listening to music, yoga, etc.

  • Use a steam room. While you may be familiar with some or all of the preventive treatments listed above, using a steam room may strike you as an unusual way to potentially help fight colds and flus. But once you learn the mechanisms of steam and intermittent hyperthermia, you’ll realize just how much it may help you maintain optimal health on a number of levels.

INTERESTED IN learning all the ways steam may benefit your health?
Download the Benefits of Steam Bathing guide 


1. Steam rooms may kill rhinovirus, the main cause of the common cold.

Research has shown that rhinovirus is inactivated at a heat above 109 degrees Fahrenheit (steam rooms exceed that temperature). Another study found that when a group of subjects experienced intermittent hyperthermia over a period of six months, the subjects suffered fewer colds than the control group.

2. steam therapy helps open up nasal passages related to symptoms of viruses.

Steam can act as a natural expectorant, which may help drain sinuses of disease-carrying mucus and phlegm. This is an important potential benefit of steam that you should take advantage of whenever you can, but especially during cold and flu season. 

Just listen to the health experts. Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners in London, told the Independent: “The common cold is a collection of different viruses and your immune system’s response to them causes the symptoms of inflamed nasal passage and lining of the sinuses—which causes sneezing, runny nose and sore eyes. The best way to reduce this inflammation is to keep the nasal passages clear. Steam is wonderful at helping to achieve this.   

3. Steam rooms may enhance respiratory health.

Research has shown that steam therapy may help loosen bronchial secretions and provide temporary relief from asthma-type symptoms, such as coughing. This effect not only may help clear your lungs of possible bacteria, but it may reduce conditions that can worsen upper respiratory discomfort.

4. Steam helps cleanse the skin of toxins and other impurities.

The constant layers of humid air from the enclosed environment of a steam room can seep deep into the epidermis to root out viral germs and wash them from the surface of the skin. 

5. Steam rooms May help relieve stress.

Steam therapy may help regulate hormones that encourage relaxation, while at the same time reducing stress hormones. Sessions in a steam room also may help promote a feeling of well-being. And just spending time in the soothing hot mist of a quiet steam room can work wonders on your disposition no matter how you felt before you stepped into the heat. You can also combine music therapy, aromatherapy, and chromatherapy into your steam room session to enhance these stress-relieving effects.

6. Steam rooms May help improve sleep quality.

Getting adequate rest is essential for general health, but also for keeping the immune system in top operating condition. Heat from a steam room may help create conditions in the body that promote better sleep quality

To lead a healthy lifestyle that reduces health risk and promotes wellness, you need a range of safe, natural remedies that exert whole-body benefits. It’s about developing everyday habits that promote resilience and well-being. 

Steam therapy is an ideal addition to any comprehensive wellness plan. Home steam rooms are surprisingly affordable, and provide an enjoyable way to help you achieve the healthy, happy life you’ve always wanted.

So stop coughing and start living. Add steam to your shower today.

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Topics: Benefits of Steam