One of my favorite things to do when I’m sick is take a long, hot shower without the bathroom fan on. A hot shower can loosen muscles, relax the mind and clear congestion. New research is suggesting that steam inhalation may do more than loosen mucous and congested sinuses, it could actually provide a cure for the common cold.
Most colds are caused by the rhinovirus which is rendered inactive at temperatures above 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Logically, one can assume that steam treatments, which raise the temperature in the nose to the required 109 degrees, would kill any rhinovirus that is present. There are some studies that back up that logic but, unfortunately, the results are mixed. Only three out of six studies showed supporting evidence that steam inhalation can cure colds. According to The New York Times, the remaining three studies ”found either a worsening of symptoms or no change at all in antibody levels or shedding of viruses.”
I’m sorry to say that, overall, there isn’t enough evidence to support steam inhalation as a cure for the cold. More studies need to be done before something concrete is determined. However, it doesn’t hurt to try. A lot of people find great benefit from steam treatments. If it doesn’t seem to help your cold symptoms, then try some of these in conjunction with it:
Rest - Your body heals while it sleeps. Give yourself plenty of time to rest and fight off that cold!
Fluids - Drink plenty of water, juice and tea. Stay away from anything with alcohol or caffeine.
Nasal Spray - Saline nasal sprays and drops can be a safe and effective way to clear congestion or a stuffy nose.
January 12th, 2011