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Misconceptions on Steaming (Kunatira/Ukufutha)

As the term implies this is just inhalation of steam.

This stems out of poor understanding of how the Covid virus enters the human body.

Science literature has proved that the Covid-19 Virus is weakened or destroyed by temperatures above 60 degrees Celcius. This is the same temperature one is expected to wash their clothes to clear Covid-19 virus in high risky situations.

So the assumption from those who advocate for steaming (Kunatira/Ukufutha) if they do the virus will be killed in the nose, throat and sinuses. If anyone manages to get steam of up to 60 degrees Celcius, into your lungs, they would be dead in a short space of time.Thats not the normal body temperature which we all know should be 37 degrees.

Thus when a person cannot breathe, they struggle for "fresh air", *not steamed air.*

When normal air is inhaled, it goes straight to the most distal part of the lungs called the Alveoli. This is the part of the lung which gets oxygen into the lung and and lets out carbon-dioxide. As we breathe Oxygen is taken in and Carbon dioxide out. So as we breathe in Oxygen , if we are in an infected environment, we also breathe in the virus, there is nothing all the way stopping the Covid-19 virus to reach this part of the lung which takes in oxygen, the Alveoli

So we have been told that after a day's shopping ,if you do (steaming, ukufutha, natira) you will kill the virus in your nose. Thats not true because the virus has already entered your lungs and no-one can sustain temperatures of 60-70 degrees even if the virus is still in the nose. There is no way one can keep the virus in the nose as long as you are breathing normal air.

That's the reason the World Health Organisation (WHO) says Mask-Up.

Putting on a Mask reduces your chances of inhaling Covid-19 Virus from an infected person. Therefore steaming (Kunatira/Ukufutha) does not stop the Virus from entering your airways.

Steaming (Kunatira/Ukufutha) has long been associated with decongesting the sinuses and throat. Yes, this gives a sense of relief that one may breathe better. Traditionally, this has helped a lot during winter. The eucalyptus is contained in medicines and tablets called Sinutab. That is for sinuses and not for Covid-19.

The majority of people with Covid-19, do not have nasal congestion or sinus congestion, so why do they steam?

Ignorance has no defence. Below is an illustration of how Covid-19 attacks the lungs.

The lung surface area damaged by Covid-19 cannot be cleared by kunatira/Ukufutha.Following tbe Covid-19 attack, there would be thick pus and blood in the lungs, that is why Covid-19 patients cough blood stained sputum.

To help clear the clogging up of lungs, we need to understand the how treatments which prevent clogging of lungs work.

Please note, until proven otherwise, how does Ukufutha/kunatira, clear all that pus away?

People who get Covid-19, often develop a high temperature. If enough water is not taken, they develop dehydration and this can cause kidney injury due to this dehydration.

You also need to understand that most affected persons lose their of smell or taste, this means they are not drinking enough water. So if these people steam/natira/futha, they sweat a lot losing more water. Therefore there would be three contributory factors causing dehydration, high temperature, steaming/kunatira/ukufutha and reduced drinking of fluids and water. All this contributes to a feeling of moderate to severe weakness which a lot of people feel, especially after steaming.

There is psychological comfort that is evidenced by the sweating to think there is viral clearance.

Therefore do not steam/natira/futha thinking you are treating or preventing Covid-19. If you decide to do so because you have blocked nose or sinuses, I recommend you Natira for up to 10 minutes at a time and not more than six times per day. This is only a nasal decongestant and not Covid-19 treatment.

About the author

Dr Fanwell Mamvura

Dr Fanwell Mamvura

A Zimbabwean trained medical doctor, a Physician, currently living and working in the United Kingdom. He brings in a lot of knowledge and experience from his role as a Covid-19 front-line worker.

Seeing and managing patients affected with Covid-19 from its craddle in Feb-March 2020, up to now has empowered him with knowledge to share his on-going experience on his blogs.

He acknowledges that understanding Covid-19 and its complications is a learning process for him and every individual. He appreciates that collating information on this menace will eventually lead to science driven outcomes and a better future.

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