Clear Congestion with Easy Steam Inhalations

An effective and simple home treatment for congestion

When congestion is keeping you down, you need something to get that mucous out. A great home treatment to consider for any age is the tradition of using steam.

What is a steam inhalation?

We use steam inhalations to fill our lungs with warm, moist air via the nose and throat. They are a great treatment for dealing with common colds, flus, bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma and even allergies.

How do they work?

Breathing in the warm, humid air moistens our dry air passages, loosening the mucous stuck in our lungs and respiratory tract. This makes it easier to expectorate, or get it out! The longer we are congested, the more uncomfortable and sickly we feel.   

The steam acts like a natural expectorant. By increasing our secretions, we are relaxing our muscles more, relieving our coughs and allowed more time to rest. Steam inhalations, when performed daily, also prevent our mucous membranes from drying out. This is important, because the more sticky the mucous is, the harder it is for us to get it out.

How do I do a steam inhalation?

You want to start using steam inhalations as soon as you have signs of congestion or cough. The faster you can get the mucous out, the better you will feel.

You will need:

  • a large bowl
  • a large bathroom towel
  • hot water
  • optional: eucalyptus , thyme and/or peppermint essential oil

Boil enough water to fill your bowl ¾ of the way full. While the water is boiling, set up your steam station. You want to place the bowl at a table that you can easily sit at and lean over the bowl comfortably. If you have a nice wooden table, consider putting a towel down under the bowl. If you want to use essential oils, add 2-4 drops to the bottom of the bowl (you do not need much!). The essential oils enhance the expectoration effect.

When the water is ready, pour it into the bowl. Next, lean over the bowl and cover your head with the large bath towel, creating a tented seal around you, effectively trapping the steam in. Breathe in through your nose and mouth for 20 minutes. Tip from an experienced steamer: keep Kleenex near by! You may have a lot of stuff coming out!

Please use caution as the steam can be VERY hot and can burn your face. Test it out, and allow it to cool a bit if too intense.

It is most effective if you perform this twice in a one-hour period, twice a day.

What about my children? Can they do this?

This may be too hot or difficult to do with small babies or children. An alternative is to do a steam “room”.

Run your shower as hot as possible and close the door, trapping the steam in your bathroom. If you would like to use essential oils, put 2-5 drops on a face cloth and toss it in the bottom of your shower. Once the room is filled with steam, bring your child in. Sit in there with them for 10 minutes. Allow them to breathe the warm moist air and relax.

Hydrotherapy home treatments are great for when those colds and coughs sneak up on us from behind. Armed and ready in your home, you can be ready to battle the congestion away!