Spittoon, protective cloaks and singing. This is what spa inhalations looked like a hundred years ago
To sit together with other patients in a circle around a glass container and suck in sprayed mineral water while singing national songs. If you were spa clients in Luhačovice at the beginning of the last century, this would be your daily therapeutic experience. The composer Leoš Janáček once drew inspiration from him.
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Outdoor inhalation founded by dr. E. Slánský around 1950. It was a séance in white hoods around bowls from which couples emerged.
| Photo: courtesy of Blanka Petráková, Museum of Southeast Moravia in Zlín
Inhalation treatment became the domain of spas during the 20th century. As Blanka Petráková writes in the publication Pictures from the Spa, in Luhačovice this treatment was introduced in 1902 in the form of an inhalation cabin in Janov, today Jurkovič’s house. A year later, the architect Dušan Jurkovič built a separate Inhalatorium near the Janovka spring. It had separate pavilions for men and women, and patients could inhale here individually or in groups.
Singing to enhance the effect
During group inhalation, according to the author of the publication, patients sat on special chairs with armrests around the perimeter of a glass container from which mineral water was sprayed, and inhaled air saturated with mineral mist. They had spittoons ready at their feet. To clothes in which patients inhaled, did not get wet, they were lent coats made of thick cotton, in which they could cover themselves completely. To enhance the effects of group inhalations, patients were advised to sing.
According to one of the local patients, the fog was so thick that it was impossible to recognize the surrounding faces, so people were more open to singing, but also to free storytelling, and the tremists had no difficulty speaking fluently. Thanks to singing while inhaling, the composer and collector of folk songs Leoš Janáček wrote directly in mid-August 1906 An inhaler eight songs that Marie Pastorková from Sehranice sang for him.
Just to give an idea: in the season of 1910, 8,000 inhalations were given in the Luhačovice Inhalatorium, while the price of one procedure ranged from 80 halers to 1.60 crowns.
Sessions in white hoods
In the middle of the 20th century, a novelty of the Luhačovice Spa was an outdoor inhalatorium. These were seances in white hoods around bowls from which couples emerged. At that time, they helped patients with prolonged catarrh of the respiratory tract and bronchi, with emphysema or bronchial asthma. At that time, however, the spa also treated digestive problems, diabetes or urinary tract diseases.
Aerosol with different particle sizes
The effects of current inhalations are not very different from those of the original ones – just as in the past, mineral waters are inhaled today. Over time, however, their appearance changed. People no longer sit en masse around a glass container, but inhale the healing aerosol directly from modern inhalation devices.
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“At our spa, we use high-performance inhalers that can produce an aerosol of different particle sizes from mineral water so that their effectiveness and penetration into the respiratory tract is optimal. The inhaled mist is also preheated to the temperature of the mucous membranes so that it does not irritate the respiratory tract,” explains MUDr. Petr Pšenica, chief physician of the company Spa Luhačoviceas
Relief for mucous membranes due to moisturizing
Inhalations are beneficial for cleaning the airways, help loosen mucus and improve the function of the mucous membranes of the respiratory system. They are prescribed for patients with chronic bronchial asthma, which is manifested by difficulty breathing, wheezing while breathing or an irritating dry cough, but also allergies or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
MD František Veselý, dedicated doctor, prominent balneologist, author of the idea for the renewal of Luhačovice spas and tireless builder of modern spas in Bohemia and Slovakia, a personality who decisively influenced the shape of today’s Luhačovice:
“During inhalations, the surface of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract is moistened, which helps to dissolve the bronchial mucus and thus make it easier to cough up. In addition, their positive effects can often persist for several months after the end of the spa stay,” adds the doctor.
Inhalation step by step
“The inhalation process begins with gargling and pouring mineral water over the upper respiratory tract, i.e. cleaning the mucous membranes for about 5 minutes. In indicated cases, this is followed by the inhalation of a bronchodilator medication, i.e. a medicine to expand the bronchi, or directly proceed to the inhalation of mineral water separately through the nose and mouth, most often after five to ten minutes each way,” explains MUDr. Jiří Hnátek, head of the Palace Hotel Lázně Luhačovice, a.s. This is usually followed by 15 minutes of spatial inhalation and finally oil inhalation, or medication.
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The exact inhalation procedure is determined for each patient by the doctor during the initial examination. Inhalation should not be done 20 to 30 minutes before and after meals, nor should you breathe deeply, as dizziness may occur. Inhalations are not recommended for acute illness.
Inhalation in the home environment
If you can’t get to the spa, don’t worry. You can also treat your lungs to inhalation at home. “Regular blowing of the nose, for example, by Vincentka, has a preventive effect by helping to harden the nasal mucosa, which is thus more resistant to infections. But it also helps, for example, with problems with a blocked nose as a result of a runny nose, whether hay fever, chronic or cold, or inflammation of the sinuses,” says Dr. Pšenica and adds: “For inhalations, a home inhalation device can be used. Many of our patients with COPD have it at home. Consult your pulmonologist or allergist about the appropriateness of its purchase or the parameters of the device.”
Cavities can also be released at home by steaming over a container with mineral water and added essential oils, e.g. eucalyptus is excellent. However, if you are not sure about self-medication, it is better to consult a doctor.