Aafa Explains: Is Salt Therapy Safe And Effective For Asthma
In our second post in our AAFA Explains series, we look at claims that salt treatment can improve your asthma.
This blog series looks at complementary and alternative medicine aimed at asthma and allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America wants to guide you as you decide between choices that may be likely safe or potentially unsafe.
CAM treatments usually do not go through the same rigorous scientific research as new drugs and medical procedures. As a result, whether or not CAM works is unproven for most treatments.
Salt therapy such as salt rooms, caves or lamps – falls into that category.
What is salt therapy?
Salt rooms are popping up in the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and elsewhere. These rooms charge you a fee to enter, like a spa. Salt crystals coat the rooms and the air is salt-laden as an attempt to mimic naturally occurring salt caves.
The history of natural salt caves as an asthma remedy is ancient. In Russia and Eastern Europe, people with asthma would descend into salt caves. The belief is that breathing in extremely small salt crystals would help open up the airways and assist with the buildup of mucus.
What does science tell us about salt therapy?
Studies evaluating salt therapy for asthma are few.
One of the largest studies to examine the use of salt caves evaluated the therapy for COPD . COPD is a chronic disease of the lungs caused by smoking.
Is halotherapy safe?
Medical Review May 2016.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Steam Rooms
Steam rooms have all the same health benefits as saunas, because the effects of heat are the same whether it’s a dry heat or a moist heat, says Dr. Parikh. This means you’ll still get some cardio benefits, along with lessened pain and stiffness.
But don’t get your hopes up in the weight loss department. Any actual pounds dropped will be water weight, you know, because of sweatand that goes for both the sauna and the steam room.
Another myth? The idea that you can detox from a night of drinking in a steam room. You can sweat off product on your skin, like sunscreen, but simply sweating won’t help your body process something you’ve ingested, like food or alcohol, says Dr. Millstine.
There is, however, one extra benefit to steam rooms for anyone who has respiratory problems like asthma or allergies. Medications for these kinds of respiratory problems might dry out your breathing passages, says Dr. Parikh. Steam will moisturize and open the lungs a little more and hydrate the respiratory tract. If you struggle with congestion, the steam can also act as a humidifier and help clear your nasal passages for easier breathing.
Keep Your Home Well Aired
Keeping your home well aired can help to reduce exposure to some common indoor triggers. It means any fumes from fires, cookers, cleaning products, paints, aerosols and sprays are cleared away more quickly. And it helps prevent problems like damp and mould.
It also helps keep humidity down which is good news if youre worried about dust mites which like humid conditions.
Opening windows, using fans
Opening windows and doors is important for helping indoor fumes and dust escape. Some windows have small vents built into them known as trickle vents, which you can keep open. But it can also let in outdoor triggers like pollen and air pollution.
Weather and season can affect indoor and outdoor pollution. So take care on high pollution or pollen days if these are triggers for your asthma. And remember to open windows in winter, when there are typically higher levels of pollutants in your home because of using gas appliances and fires more.
Watch out for dusty fans or extractors or youll end up blowing dust all round the room.
Some people tell us having an air filter or air purifier helps them with their asthma symptoms. However more research is needed to show whether this works.
Air filters cant remove all allergens and even a few left behind can trigger asthma symptoms, says Dr Andy. And for something like second hand cigarette smoke, the best advice is always not to smoke in the first place, particularly around children.
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Asthma Uk Community Forum
I have seasonal asthma which is worse when summer is hot and pollen is high. Im interested to know if sauna or steam rooms help? My local gym has both and someone has recommended I try them.
With most things in life it depends!
Some asthmatics say it really helps, others find they are a trigger! Personally I find that I usually feel tight whilst inside but a lot better once a leave , however I very rarely use them.
Sorry to not be more helpful but best thing to do it try it out. Leave your pump outside jic, and go in. If you find it really triggers you, leave, have your pump and never go back. If you find it helps then its worth doing. Good luck and fingers crossed!
Absolutely not for me, for either. But thats because it makes my chest worse. I expect for others it does help though.
Do you have to pay extra for them? If not then I agree with Emma to try! If you do then maybe try at home I really cant do steam rooms but I also find inhaling with steam and even a hot steamy shower difficult. If those are an issue for you too, then maybe steer clear of trying the steam room if you have to fork out for it
How To Inhale Steam
You will need the following things if you want to follow the best practices for steam inhalation:
- One big to medium-sized bowl
- Some water
- A stove, microwave or kettle to heat the water
- A large towel
Step 1: Make sure you heat the water and bring it to a boil
Step 2: Once the water is steaming, turn off the heat and carefully pour the hot water into a bowl
Step 3: Take the towel and cover the back of your head with it fully
Step 4: Lower your head into the steaming water but keep a safe distance, so you dont burn yourself.
Step 5: Breathe the steam deeply through your nose for about 2-5 minutes.
Protip: Dont inhale the steam for longer than 10 15 minutes in a single sitting. However, the act of steaming can be repeated several times throughout the day to provide comfort to your respiratory tract.
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Continue Learning About Asthma
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
Should I Choose A Sauna Or A Steam Room
Again, if you have respiratory issues, it’s best to stick to steam rooms in order to keep your respiratory tract hydrated , according to Dr. Parikh. Otherwise, it’s all about personal preference, and you get get health benefits from both.
The bottom line: Saunas and steam rooms offer many of the same benefits , so it’s all about personal preference and finding out which one works best for you.
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Does Steam Inhalation Help You Combat Covid
The World Health Organization and Centre For Disease Control and Prevention do not consider steam inhalation a preventive treatment for the Coronavirus. However, the American Lung Association has credited steam inhalation as relieving respiratory symptoms among COVID patients. That being said, one must not mistake steam inhalation as a cure for the virus.
Social distancing, sanitizing your hands frequently and wearing a mask at all times are the best practices to combat this fatal virus.
Himalayan Crystal Salt Inhaler
The Himalayan Crystal Salt inhaler is a convenient, drug-free tool that is designed to deliver healing salt vapors to the upper respiratory tract.
Breathing through the inhaler draws air across mineral-rich granules of Himalayan Crystal Salt.
The salt vapors help to reduce mucus buildup, moisturize dry mucous membranes, and ease constricted breathing.
The use of salt therapy for respiratory ailments has been around for ages. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, inhaled steam from boiling saltwater and recommended it to others.
I keep my salt inhaler by my bedside and have found it helps with wheezing, coughs, and blocked sinuses.
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Help In Improving Respiratory System
Breathing in steam is an incredible treatment for respiratory entanglements and is suggested for treating influenza, bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, and sensitivities. Dry air sections are dampened, and bodily fluid is disposed of coughing or cleaning out the nose. The clammy air additionally eases trouble breathing, throat disturbance and aggravation.
How Steam Therapy May Help Relieve Asthma Like Symptoms
An interesting statistic is that the U.S. region with the lowest rate of asthma is the South. This despite the fact that many Southern states, such as Mississippi and Alabama, have the highest rates of other chronic health conditions, such as type-2 diabetes and obesity.
Now think about the climate in the South: hot and humid. Contrast that to other hot-weather regions like the Southwest that are hot but dry. Having the countrys lowest asthma rates located in the South is probably more than a coincidence.
This association of hot, humid air with respiratory relief is consistent with research by German scientists at the University of Munich. Between the years 1983-86, these researchers did a series of experiments at the Institute of Medical Balneology and Climatology that found that steam baths helped relieve upper respiratory problems and improved asthma symptoms. In addition, steam therapy helped those suffering from bronchitis by loosening mucus and phlegm while reducing coughing.
This benefit was clear in a dramatic study by researchers in India who applied steam therapy to subjects with severe acute lower respiratory tract infection. Those suffering from bronchiolitis received steam therapy in a cloth tent. Within 24 hours, patients receiving steam therapy showed a significant decrease in respiratory distress
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Is Too Much Humidity Bad For Your Lungs
Humidifiers, asthma and allergies Increased humidity may ease breathing in children and adults who have asthma or allergies, especially during a respiratory infection such as a cold. But dirty mist or increased growth of allergens caused by high humidity can trigger or worsen asthma and allergy symptoms.
Does Steam Bother Your Asthma
It is nearly impossible to make a blanket statement about what is okay or not okay for someone with asthma. Dry heat can be an asthma trigger for some, but others cannot be exposed to steam and humidity. A bath and hot tub might feel great for my partner and not trigger his asthma, but it could be a trigger for your asthma.
If you are unsure if a hot tub, sauna, or bath is okay for your asthma, be sure to keep your inhaler nearby. Rather than going in a sauna for 30 minutes straight, maybe experiment with just going in for a few minutes. As always, it is important to listen to your body and pay attention to the early warning signs of a potential asthma attack. If you have a strong concern about trying to use a hot tub, bath, or sauna, bring this up in the next conversation you have with your doctor!
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They Promote Pain Relief
Research has shown that people suffering from musculoskeletal conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, report lessened discomfort after spending time in a sauna. When interspersed with cooling periods, sauna stints may also boost the bodys natural painkilling response, according to the paper. Similar results have been observed among people with chronic headaches, the paper says.
Saunas & Steam Rooms Can Improve Heart Health And Speed Up Muscle Recovery
Want to improve your heart health without cardio? Of course, you do.
While we cant guarantee that its going to be quite as effective as a run. There is increasing evidence to suggest that saunas and steam rooms can improve cardiovascular fitness.
Saunas and steam rooms improve blood flow. They allow the heart to pump more blood around the body, without it having to work any harder.
This also helps speed up muscle and joint recovery. More blood can get to the muscles and joints, which allows more oxygen to get to the muscles and joints. This helps reduce the lactic acid build that causes pain after we exercise. And can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain from conditions such as arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
These two factors are why many endurance athletes use saunas and steam rooms as part of hyperthermic conditioning.Saunas are especially good, as these benefits increase with the temperature. And the sauna is approx. 30 degrees hotter than the steam room.
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Is Steam Good For My Asthma
I have had asthma all of my life and I am still learning . there is a question which I hope somebody could help me with . is steam and oils for breathing can it help or can it make my asthma it worse
Hi, it seems to depend on the person! I would definitely be careful with both as quite a few people do find that steam and humidity as well as many essential oils can be a big trigger. I am very wary about this as steam definitely triggers me – I had an argument once with an annoying GP who was refusing to believe I was having asthma problems, insisted it was just a cold and then got cross with me when I said I couldn’t inhale with steam . I ended up in hospital a few days later with a fairly bad attack but that was more because she was refusing to do anything – I definitely didn’t actually do any inhalations beyond a lot of Ventolin!
Many scents are a massive trigger for me, especially lavender, rose and other flowery scents. I am ok with citrus and if I venture to a spa I will ask for citrus oils.
I would say you may be ok with some but I don’t know if there is any research to suggest that oils can be actively helpful even if they don’t trigger you. The steam inhalation might help some people especially if they have mucus I guess but although I think it’s seen as a classic thing to help breathing, I don’t know if it does much for asthma.
How Long Can You Sit In A Sauna Or Steam Room
Most peoples sessions are only five to 30 minutes. But how long you can safely use a sauna or steam room depends on how acclimated you are to it, or how hot the sauna or steam room is.
If you feel lightheaded or youre feeling dehydrated because you perhaps just came back from a long run, its not a good idea to spend a long time in the sauna, says Dr, Millstine. But if youre well-hydrated and feel fine, you can stay a bit longer.
Its also common practice to get out of the sauna or steam room for frequent breaks, so leave and drink water whenever you feel you need to, she says.
Dr. Parikh suggests starting low and slow. The lower you sit in the sauna or steam room , the less intense the heat will be because heat rises. While its best for your health to use a sauna or steam room regularly , maybe start with one trip to the spa for no longer than five or 10 minutes at most to see how well you can handle it, then add on from there.
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Side Effects Or Risks Of Steam Inhalation
If done right, steam inhalation can be a safe and efficient activity. It can help you fight a cold, a cough, and inflammation. However, if youre not careful, you might end up hurting yourself.
Its possible to accidentally knock over the hot water vessel or scald yourself by coming into contact with hot water. You can get severely injured if you dont take precautions. Heres how you can avoid burning yourself:
- Always keep the hot water vessel on a level surface. Make sure the surface is sturdy so that you avoid any accidental spills.
- Never lean on the vessel or try to shake it.
- Keep the hot water steam away from pets and children.
- Dont allow the steam to come into contact with your eyes. Try to direct your eyes away from the steam while keeping them closed.
As per a study, the majority of individuals who get burns from steam inhalation are children. If your child needs to steam, you must supervise them and instruct them to do so safely. That being said, it is safe to keep your child in a steamy bathroom while running a hot water shower.
While it is safe to use a vessel at home, opting for a steam inhalation system can be beneficial, as long as you exercise caution.
Some Sauna And Steam Room Science
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If you’re a proud sauna or steam room owner, or are considering buying one for your home, the relaxation benefits are clear. If you’ve ever enjoyed a spa experience with a sauna or steam room, the appeal is obvious for enjoyment and relaxation, but does it actually do your body any good? Here is some of the science behind the way that saunas and steam rooms benefit our bodies:
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