Doctor warns against steam inhalation as COVID-19 treatment
Pulmonologist and biochemist Dr. Earl Louis Sempio
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Doctor warns against steam inhalation as COVID-19 treatment

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - December 1, 2020 - 4:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — With the heightened health and safety protocols brought by COVID-19, some Filipinos are now turning to steam inhalation as a treatment for sickness.

In a virtual symposium recently held by Unilab as part of its “Alagang Unilab: HealthierPH Series,” pulmonologist and biochemist Dr. Earl Louis Sempio helped shed some light on misinformation surrounding the treatment modality, as well as its pros and cons.

“Steam inhalation is widely practiced, especially in homes, because of the relief that it gives a person who may be suffering from the common cold, nasal allergies, or sinus infections. These conditions bring nasal congestion that is very uncomfortable and makes it difficult for someone to breathe,” Sempio said.

Steam inhalation, or "tuob," is the process of inhaling water vapor to relieve stuffy noses brought by a cold or sinus infection. Some use it as a therapy for bronchitis or nasal allergies, while some resort to it when they have fever or flu. 

The procedure involves lowering one’s head about eight to 12 inches away from hot water and inhaling slowly and deeply through the nose for at least two to five minutes.

While steam inhalation alleviates the symptoms of nasal congestion, Sempio stressed that it is not a cure as it does not address the virus that caused it.

“What’s important is to keep yourself hydrated; you need to drink plenty of fluids to replenish what is being lost,” he said.

The doctor also strongly discourages steam inhalation for COVID-19 patients. 

“Steam inhalation loosens secretions, that’s why a COVID patient shouldn’t do it. It poses a great threat to everyone around the patient especially if he starts coughing in the middle of treatment,” he said.

Apart from COVID-19, Sempio discourages the use of steam inhalation with patients suffering from an infectious condition like Tuberculosis where the possibility of generating
infectious droplets are high.

The health professional reminds everyone to seek a health professional’s opinion when it comes to addressing medical concerns, especially cough and cold.

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