country’s leading pharmaceutical and healthcare company, Unilab Inc. (Unilab),
through its “Alagang Unilab: HealthierPH Series,” launched a virtual symposium
that talked about the pros and cons of steam inhalation recently.
“To steam or not to steam: A discussion on Steam Inhalation as a Health
Remedy,” pulmonologist and biochemist Dr.
Earl Louis A. Sempio helped shed some light on the various misinformation
surrounding the treatment modality.
inhalation, tuob or suob in local parlance, is the process of inhaling water
vapor to relieve stuffy nose brought by a cold or sinus infection. Some use it
as a therapy for bronchitis or nasal allergies, while some resort to its effect
when they have fever or flu.
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.
but not a cure.
“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,” says Dr. Sempio.
steam inhalation alleviates the symptoms of nasal congestion, Dr. Sempio
stressed that it is not a cure as the steam does not address the virus that
problem is when people feel better they get a false sense of security that they
no longer need a doctor’s advice to address their condition. People often
associate relief with cure, which is a mistake that can potentially hurt in the
can make you feel better and so can a warm bowl of chicken soup when you’re under
the weather. When you’re done with your soup, you start feeling better because
the vapor from the soup helped decongest your nasal pathways.
vapor or moisture does not necessarily need to be from a boiling pot of water. What’s important is to keep
yourself hydrated; you need to drink plenty of fluids to replenish what is
and other conditions.
Amid the pandemic, Dr. Sempio strongly discourages
steam inhalation for coronavirus patients.
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."
medical societies have already issued statements regarding steam inhalation for
COVID 19 patients. One of them is the Philippine Institute of Traditional and
Alternative Health Care (PITAHC).
the statement reads: “Scientific studies suggest that steam inhalation is
indeed effective against symptoms of colds and that it increases nasal patency…
However, tuob/suob cannot be recommended as a standard care treatment for
COVID-19 until it is proven by controlled clinical studies.”
Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Society of Microbiology and
Infectious Diseases, and the Philippine College of Chest Physicians have
likewise issued a joint statement saying: “Steam inhalation does not kill the
virus and may cause potential harm. We cannot in good conscience endorse its
preventive or curative measure.”
from COVID 19, Dr. Sempio also discourages the use of steam inhalation with
patients suffering from an infectious condition like Tuberculosis where the
possibility of generating infectious droplets is
Sempio reminds everyone to seek a health professional’s opinion when it comes
to addressing medical concerns, especially cough and cold. He then enumerates
tips on how to prevent an infection and stay healthy.
is always better than cure. First is hygiene because that’s the primary way of
us getting the infection. If we’re worried about a viral infection, we usually
get it through the secretions or the airborne particles.
“If you’re already sick, drink plenty of fluids, that’s number one. Second, you need to have rest, you have to have adequate sleep, adequate nutrition, and remove any form of abuse to the body.”
Lastly, Dr. Sempio acknowledges that many Filipinos are
suffering from vitamin deficiency, which makes them susceptible to infection.
Correcting malnutrition can greatly help in improving one’s immune system.
Alagang Unilab: HealthierPH Series is part of Unilab’s
initiatives in reaching out to the public to provide relevant health
information on primary healthcare and chronic conditions. For more information
about Unilab, log on to their website at www.unilab.com.ph, or visit
their Facebook or Instagram pages (@unilab). For inquiries and other concerns,
you may contact the Unilab Consumer Care Center at +632-8-864522-1 (UNILAB-1)
Louis Sempio M.D., F.P.C.P, F.P.C.C.P.
of Sto. Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery
of Medical Ethics Course
Technology and e-Learning Applications E-Learning
of Biochemistry Laboratory
of Sto. Tomas Hospital
for Respiratory Medicine
Resource Creation Unit Unit
of Medical Education and Research Coordinator
Medical Education Unit
General Hospital and Medical Center
Pulmonary Department Chairman