Isn’t it the most romantic feeling in the world when you finally get to rest your head on your partner’s chest and forget all about the day’s chaos?
However, if you happen to share the same fate as mine and are married to a smoker, things in your romantic paradise might be rather different. And the resting-on-the-chest time might come with its fair share of disturbances—thanks to some very troubling noises ruining the mood. Nope, not his heartbeat, d-uh! I am talking about the sound of his heavy breathing, which is quite comparable to the roars of an old truck.
And also a reason to worry
In my case, those heavy, noisy breaths caused panic. His occasional coughs weren’t helping either. Afterall, they were a clear indication of the terrible state his lungs were in.
My fears became even worse when I came across a piece of information released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States, which clearly mentioned that cigarette smoking can cause lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) apart from making the smoker’s cardiovascular health worse by the day and increasing death risk.
In this case, the smoker was my beloved husband, who simply found it difficult to quit smoking–despite the countless requests, sugar-coated taunts, and neem-coated arguments.
We were both aware of the magnitude of smoking’s destruction
Unfortunately, the calming nicotine kick from cigarettes comes in a package which includes smoke inhalation and thickens the mucus produced in the lungs that can also trap the toxins from the cigarettes. But since addiction is also a painful part of the package, I figured that a practical, achievable damage-control solution had to be found while he tries to quit, obviously.
Enter steam inhalation, the saving grace
That pain-in-the-rear mucus won’t be as much of a pain if only one’s lungs are healthy and able enough to detox themselves naturally. But with the lung-damaging effects of the smoke, expecting your lungs to carry that out is almost unreal. Hence, the cough, congestion, and well, a verbally-mute-but-noisy husband!
So after coming across a Facebook video about steam inhalation for detoxifying the lungs, I decided to give it a try.
Fortunately, I had an electric steamer at home for DIY facial cleaning, so I didn’t have to make my impatient better half lean over a bowl of boiling water to inhale the vapours. A towel over his head, my steamer in the front, and basically just about 15-20 minutes of his time is all that was used.
The result? He could breathe better and he wheezed less–which was a relief to say the least.
Reality Check: Quitting is the solution, steam inhalation is just a remedy
“Nothing can help significantly unless one quits. Cleansing of lungs happens more by the natural soot clearing mechanisms than steam inhalation. But steam does help to activate the immune system, helping in smokers cough,” said Dr Vichar Nigam, consultant Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia in Pune
Even a 2018 study published in the Journal of Pulmonary & Respiratory Medicine showed that the steam therapy was an effective but temporary solution to the problem.
So, I wouldn’t say that its results were significant or instant. But it would be unfair to not give steam inhalation its due credit for reducing my husband’s wheezing and the noises that came as a result of the heavy breathing.