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Inhaling is one of the most popular home remedies for cold symptoms, it relieves nasal congestion and moisturizes dry mucous membranes. Special additives such as camphor, peppermint and pine needle oil make inhalation particularly effective. Find out here which oils and herbs bring relief and let you breathe deeply again.
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Inhaling provides quick relief for a cold. Best of all: You can easily prepare an overhead steam bath at home, usually even with ingredients that you already have on the kitchen shelf. All you need is a bowl (or a pot) with hot water (around 70 degrees) and a towel that is placed over the back of the head. The proven inhalation additives for colds include eucalyptus, mint and thyme oils, but also untreated salt.
Article content at a glance:
The best home remedies for a cold
Distance, duration, frequency: this is what you should know about inhaling
You determine the ideal distance when inhaling: Your face should be just so close to the surface of the water that it does not burn your skin, but the vapors can easily reach your nose. Breathe in calmly and evenly deeply through your nose and exhale again through your mouth. In this way, the beneficial water vapor reaches the bronchi and the nasal mucosa.
As far as the number of inhalations is concerned, there is basically no limit – you can inhale several times a day without hesitation, and the duration should be around five to ten minutes each time. It has proven useful to treat yourself to a soothing steam bath in the morning and in the evening and then to rest for half an hour.
Side effects: who is not allowed to inhale?
Asthmatics should, however, refrain from adding essential oils such as menthol or camphor. Babies and children can also get breathlessness from such additives.
Another danger when inhaling, especially for children, is scalding. Therefore, special table-top inhalers are best because they cannot tip over and the vapors do not irritate the eyes. Such steamers are available in pharmacies, for example.
Special electro-inhalers for chronic diseases are available with a doctor's prescription. These create finer droplets that penetrate further into the airways than normal water vapor.
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Inhale: which additives help against what?
Depending on the area of application, different ones are recommended for inhalation additions. The most tried and tested means at a glance:
Salt water: This home remedy is ideal for moisturizing dry mucous membranes and relieving a blocked nose. It liquefies the secretion and thus loosens stuck mucus. For a salt inhalation, add nine grams of untreated (sea) salt to one liter of boiling water and wait until it is around 70 degrees.
chamomile: The tried and tested medicinal plant has an anti-inflammatory effect and calms the airways when, for example, coughs and hoarseness accompany the common cold. A handful of flowers per liter of water make one inhalation.
thyme: The healthy spice helps with respiratory problems such as bronchitis and coughs. To inhale, add a tablespoon of thyme herb to about a liter of hot water or add a few drops of essential oil and increase the dose as required.
sage: This medicinal herb also calms the airways and can relieve coughs. There are a handful of leaves for every liter.
eucalyptus: Two to six drops of the essential oil have an expectorant effect and make it easier to cough up tough secretions.
Few drops Pine needle, pine needle or mountain pine oil per liter of water gently disinfect and let you breathe deeply again.
mint (Active ingredient: menthol) also clears the airways and has an antibacterial effect. Add three to five drops of essential oil or a handful of fresh mint leaves to one liter of water.
Camphor (also: camphor) has a bronchodilator effect and makes coughing easier. Just like menthol, it supports free nasal breathing and creates a cooling feeling. A few drops per inhalation are also sufficient here; the dosage can be increased to around six drops if necessary.
Caution: Pregnant and breastfeeding women – as well as babies and children under seven years of age – should not inhale essential oils such as menthol, camphor, thyme or eucalyptus. Women in these phases of life are best advised to discuss with their doctor what to consider when inhaling and which additives are suitable.
Incidentally, inhalations can not only relieve cold symptoms, but also allergic complaints such as an itchy palate with hay fever. Allergy sufferers particularly benefit from a steam bath with table salt, alternatively fennel oil and possibly chamomile, which can be irritating to the eyes.
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