Doctors advise caution against excess use of steam as a home remedy

Updated on Feb 06, 2022 10:58 PM IST

City doctors are being flooded with complaints of injuries to the pharynx, and of burn injuries, as many patients self-administer steam, a home remedy, two to three times a day

People are seen inhaling steam as a precaution against the Covid-19. (HT FILE PHOTO)
People are seen inhaling steam as a precaution against the Covid-19. (HT FILE PHOTO)
ByNamrata Devikar

PUNE City doctors are being flooded with complaints of injuries to the pharynx, and of burn injuries, as many patients self-administer steam, a home remedy, two to three times a day.

Patients are of the opinion that using steam may reduce Covid and flu symptoms. Medical practitioners from the city note that using steam may reduce symptoms of flu and Covid, however, it has no effect on the illness itself. Moreover, doctors noted that such steps should be taken only after medical advice.

Dr Mahendra Dadke, MD from Jupiter Hospital said, “Pharynx is a membrane-lined cavity behind the nose and mouth, connecting to the oesophagus, also called a food pipe. It is a delicate organ. I have seen many patients who come to us with injuries to the pharynx as they inhale a lot of steam to keep flu and Covid at bay.”

He added that inhaling steam may reduce the symptoms, but does not completely cure the illness.

“In addition to this, our respiratory tract is not used to inhaling so much steam. Many patients take steam two to three times a day which may injure the pharynx. This can cause other problems. Patients should seek medical advice before using such methods,” said Dr Dadke.

He added that using steam is helpful when there is a sinus congestion due to mucus.

“If a person suffers from a slight change in their voice, it may be due to inflammation of the pharynx or a burn injury to the pharynx. Patients should seek medical advice immediately,” said Dr Dadke.

Dr Rajesh Deshmukh, ayurvedic practitioner from the city said, “Taking steam during morning hours in winter is advisable. Even for patients who suffer from cough and sinus related issues, steam can help. But there are other factors that also play a major role. Patients should seek medical advice before overuse of home remedies.”

Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, renowned epidemiologist and former head of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) at a recent webinar regarding the third wave also emphasised that many cases of burn injuries are seen due to inhalation of steam.

“Steam inhalation can have serious side effects both on skin and in our respiratory tract. Apart from perceived symptomatic relief in cough, it has no scientific benefit in Covid-19,” said Dr Jayadevan.

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