Does steam inhalation prevent coronavirus infection?

Does steam inhalation prevent coronavirus infection?

Last Reviewed : 12/16/2020
Does steam inhalation prevent coronavirus infection?

Steam inhalation is a common home remedy used to help with symptoms of common cold. Nose blockage is immediately relieved with steam inhalation. Novel Coronavirus is present in the upper airways of the affected people like nasal cavity, sinuses, and throat. As the infection becomes severe, lungs are involved. As steam is hot and humid, there has been speculation that steam inhalation may kill Novel Coronavirus in nose and upper airways. In this article, we will review the evidence available and figure out if steam inhalation helps to prevent Novel Coronavirus.

A study published in JAMA looked at the effect of steam inhalation on Rhinovirus, the most common virus for common cold. Machine-generated hot, humidified air is used in infected volunteers. Two steam inhalation treatments were given to the subjects. A test group is used for comparison. It was concluded that two treatments with steam inhalation had no effect on Rhinovirus.

Another comprehensive review from Cochrane Database also published similar findings. It noted that the viral shedding and nasal washings were no different with steam inhalation. The study concluded that the steam inhalation had not shown any consistent benefits in the treatment of the common cold.

There is no research on the impact of steam inhalation on Novel Coronavirus. However, based on the available research, it can be inferred that steam inhalation does not have any role in preventing or killing COVID-19. There is an increased risk of irritation or burning of nose or face. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend using steam inhalation because of its associated risks.



  1. Hendley JO et al. Effect of inhalation of hot humidified air on experimental rhinovirus infection. JAMA. 1994 Apr 13;271(14):1112-3.
  2. Singh M. Heated, humidified air for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jun 4;(6):CD001728. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001728.pub5.

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