BEING a respiratory disease, there is currently a very heated debate between the medical community and some individuals on steam inhalation or tuob.
As the debate heats up on social media, one thing is clear -- tuob is mainly utilized as a part of the treatment to provide relief to someone experiencing a respiratory symptoms. There are numerous studies out there on steam inhalation, even before the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, from different medical researchers and scientists that show how this home remedy alleviates respiratory symptoms.
In a joint statement of members of the medical community on the practice of tuob for prevention of Covid-19 infection, they said tuob has been cited in scientific journals “to provide relief of respiratory symptoms such as nasal congestion and dry cough -- symptoms that are experienced in Covid-19.”
However, the medical community made it clear that tuob “has not been demonstrated to kill viruses.”
The joint statement was by the Philippine College of Chest Physicians; UP Medical Alumni Society, Cebu Chapter; Philippine College of Physicians Central Visayas Chapter; Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases; UST Alumni Association, Cebu Chapter; Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society; Philippine Academy of Family Physicians; Philippine Dermatological Society; Central Visayas Society of Ophthalmology; Philippine College of Surgeons; Philippine Society of General Surgeons; Philippine Pediatric Society Central Visayas Chapter; and the Pediatric Respiratory Specialists of Cebu Inc.
The Department of Health (DOH) and the medical community also warned that tuob poses risks to the person practicing it if not done properly.
DOH said tuob may risk spreading the disease as it may increase secretions in the nose, which may spread the disease through sneezing or coughing.
The joint statement of the medical community also strongly advises individuals practicing tuob “to be careful and mindful of the first stages of burn injuries.”
Basic understanding of our science will tell us that inhaling steam will not rid us of the virus. Based on our science classes, we would know that it is our immune system that does most of the legwork inside our bodies when we get sick. There is currently no study that steam has properties that will either boost our immune system or kill the virus. If we want to boost our immune system, we know that we have to live healthier.
Home remedies do have their pros but they also have their cons. We should always take these home remedies with a grain of salt.
However, one thing the local medical community can do to better explain to the public about tuob is to conduct a study on it. An official study from DOH, the medical community, and even the Department of Science and Technology can help dispel any misinformation about tuob and Covid-19.
For now, let’s listen to the warnings of the medical community, who based their statements on existing scientific evidence.
Again, there is no official cure and treatment on Covid-19. The medical community and scientists across the globe are working day and night to find a cure or treatment. Covid-19 being a new disease caused by a new coronavirus, there is currently nothing to fight it. And to ensure that these treatments or cure are safe for patients, a lot of studies have to be done and it will take a while.
For now, let us practice basic safety protocols -- regular washing of hands, observing physical distancing, wearing face masks, and observing proper coughing and sneezing etiquette.