Inhale for colds and coughs: what to look for in salt water and oils

Photo:; CC0 / Pixabay / music4life

Inhaling helps with colds and relieves cough and runny nose. It also moisturizes the irritated sinuses. We reveal what you should pay attention to when using the water vapor method and when you should better use a nebulizer.

Inhaling for colds makes sense; the water vapor is only suitable for the Sinuses and upper respiratory tract. The water vapor does not reach stuck mucus in the bronchi, which is difficult to cough up. The water vapor droplets are just too big. Here isotonic or hypertonic is recommended Saline with a special device.

Inhaling with water vapor clears the upper respiratory tract

Pure water vapor already helps to moisturize the upper respiratory tract.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / music4life)
Pure water vapor already helps to moisturize the upper respiratory tract.

This is how inhalation works when you catch a cold with steam:

  1. First boil 500 milliliters of water and put it in a bowl.
  2. Bend your head over the water and inhale the steam calmly and deeply – alternately through your mouth and nose. If the water vapor is still too hot, wait a few more minutes.
  3. To increase the intensity, you can hang a towel over your head and bowl.

You can inhale a few times with a cold: up to three times a day for up to ten minutes.

Important: Make sure that the bowl is firmly on the table and the towel is only slightly on. If the bowl falls over, severe burns can quickly occur. Small children should therefore only inhale under supervision.

Inhale for colds and coughs: salt or essential oils?

With the "bowl method", table salt has no effect.
(Photo: Sven Christian Schulz / Utopia)
With the “bowl method”, table salt has no effect.

eucalyptus, peppermint, Pine oil – Many herbal remedies help with a cold and are often used for inhalation. However, through the essential oils the eyes become irritated. Essential oils can also cause breathlessness in asthma patients and children. So you’d better like herbs like chamomile put.

Saline solutions are also recommended for inhaling when you have a cold, but they do not work with water vapor: water vapor does not transport the salt particles because salt has a significantly higher boiling point than water. The salt remains in solution in the water or dries out again as an integral part.

Inhale for colds: with saline and nebulizers

With nebulizers, the saline solution is atomized.
With nebulizers, the saline solution is atomized.

Isotonic or hypertonic saline solution clears mucus and moisturizes the mucous membranes – but only as an aerosol. For this you have to use specially developed nebulizers, such as the “Pari Boy” (e.g. at ** Shop pharmacy). However, you should only fill it with the sterile saline solution (NaCl, 0.9%) provided. With the device you can easily inhale for colds and sit upright.


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