PH medical societies warn no evidence steam inhalation kills coronavirus

Sofia Tomacruz
PH medical societies warn no evidence steam inhalation kills coronavirus
The medical societies also say the practice, when done in the company of other people, may facilitate the spread of the virus

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine medical societies on Thursday, June 25, warned the public that the practice of “tu-ob” or steam inhalation has not been proven as an effective method to kill the coronavirus, rejecting to endorse it as a preventive measure against the highly-infectious disease. 

The medical societies further warned doing so is risky if done by individuals infected with the coronavirus as it can further spread the disease if done around other people. 

“We stand by up-to-date medical evidence that steam inhalation has not been demonstrated to kill virus, specifically the Sars-Cov-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The practice may even be precarious, if done by infected individuals, as it may facilitate spread if done communally,” the medical societies said in a joint statement. 

“Because steam inhalation does not kill the virus and may cause potential harm, we cannot, in good conscience, endorse its use a preventive or curative measure,” they added.

Among the 13 medical societies that were part of the joint statement were the following: 

  • Philippine College of Chest Physicians
  • University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society (Cebu Chapter)
  • Philippine College of Physicians (Central Visayas Chapter)
  • Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
  • University of Santo Tomas 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 (Central Visayas Chapter)
  • Philippine Pediatric Society 
  • Pediatric Respiratory Specialists of Cebu Inc 

The medical societies had put out the statement after Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued a government memorandum advising local government employees to practice steam inhalation as a way to fight the coronavirus. The memo called for employees to observe the practice twice a day at their respective workstations. 

Garcia’s actions had sparked criticism for putting local government employees at risk, prompting her to shame doctors who criticized her advocacy. 

The practice of steam inhalation is common practice as a home remedy to alleviate respiratory symptoms like nasal congestion and dry cough – symptoms occurring in COVID-19.  Still, it is not a proven cure. 

The doctors advised the public that individuals should be careful and mindful of the first stage of burn injuries which can occur after prolonged steam exposure. They likewise stressed that in cases were people choose to practice steam inhalation, individuals must seek medical consultation immediately if symptoms persist.  

“We continually urge the public to observe practices that have been proven effective in mitigating the virus spread including wearing of masks, hand washing, and physical distancing,” they said. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.