A steam inhaler is a medical device that is primarily used to provide relief for congestion and cough. This device is usually used during steam inhalation therapy, an alternative treatment for the common cold, allergies, bronchitis, flu, rhinitis, and other respiratory conditions. It usually comes with a soft mask that fits snugly over the mouth and nose -- allowing it to deliver direct steam relief. It helps reduce various symptoms affecting the respiratory system, i.e. it relieves congestion, soothes sore throats, opens up the sinuses and lung passageways, and moisturizes the nasal cavities.

Steam inhalation therapy clears the congestion in the sinuses and lungs and soothes irritated throat and nose. As a result, people are able to breathe normally, expel the mucus with less effort, and heal faster. Although it has not yet been clinically proven to cure or effectively treat sinus and respiratory conditions, many people believe in steam inhalation therapy and the benefits it provides. This treatment can be done with or without a steam inhaler, and can either be used with heated water alone or added with herbs (fresh, dried, or oils).

To prepare the treatment, a person simply needs to add hot water into a pot or sink, or any container that is available at home. When ready, he or she should take several deep breaths to clear the congestion -- repeat when necessary. It has been said that certain types of herbs enhance the therapeutic effects of this treatment. So be sure to use herbs if they're available -- if he/she already has them at home, then great; if not, he/she can purchase them at a nearby store. These can help prevent (the formation of) or get rid of mucus: anise, cinnamon, and ginger. The following are expectorants which help in expelling mucus: camphor, eucalyptus, and garlic. Lastly, these help soothe irritated mucus membranes: burdock, mullein, and chickweed.