Well, it’s happened. After keeping from getting sick for well over a week now, my immune system gave in and I got a nasty cold. I’m sure part of it is due the fact my daughter’s been coughing and congested all week, but I also think another factor is the bone dry air in my home.
As I discussed in a previous post, being inside with the heat running all the time dries out our nasal and sinus passages, making us more susceptible to getting sick. So, if you notice that you or your loved ones are having allergy issues or keep coming down with infections, such as colds, the flu, sinusitis, earaches, or other ENT problems, you’ll need to reintroduce moisture back into your system. Otherwise, you may get into a never ending cycle of being sick if you don’t get at one of the potential root causes of the problem — dryness.
So, I wanted to share with you some products and at-home remedies that are helpful for soothing and re-moisturizing the ol’ nasal, sinus, and bronchial passages. Some are also helpful for preventing allergies and infections from taking hold. Let me know which ones you’ve tried or found particularly helpful.
(1) Hot Washcloth
Got sinus pain and pressure? A bad headache? Congested? Placing a hot, moist wash cloth on your face several times a day will get things circulating again and bring some soothing relief.
Try adding a drop of lavender essential oil to the washcloth, especially when insomnia or headaches are involved. It’s truly relaxing and a great remedy if you’re in need of a little extra TLC.
(2) Steam Treatments
Breathing in steam, whether it’s in the shower, over a pot of hot water, or by using a handheld steam inhaler is a simple tried-and-true remedy that I always turn to when a family member is congested or has an infection. It helps unclog nasal and sinus passages and soothe bronchial passages, letting you remember what it feels like to breathe again without discomfort.
With the addition of antiseptic essential oils, such as eucalyptus, steaming helps your body fight off infections, such as bronchitis or sinusitis. (A huge plus considering how resistant many antibiotics are these days!) Simply add a couple drops of essential oil to a wash cloth and place it on the floor of a hot, steamy shower. Or, add some to a pot of hot water as described in this post. Regardless of which method you choose, steaming 2 – 3 times a day helps get things moving.
(3) Neti Pot
Years ago when I heard about how neti pots can help with recurrent sinus infections and allergy issues, I remember wondering if they’d really work for me. I had gotten tired of using prescribed nasal decongestants and sprays, because they just didn’t seem to work. I’d get “better” and then sick again. So, you can imagine how pleased I was when I found out how cleansing my nasal and sinus passages with a simple saline and water solution kept my sinus problems at bay! As a result, this natural remedy became a part of my health and wellness regimen, especially during times of the year when pollen counts were high or viruses were prevalent. So, I really recommend that you give it a try if you suffer from similar problems.
By the way, most ENT doctors are on board with using neti pots for treating chronic sinus problems, but there is some dispute about using them to treat an acute condition as this review study published in Current Allergy and Asthma Reports discusses.
(4) Saline Nasal Products
Unlike over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays that can only be used for a short period of time because they may do more harm than good (such as being addictive), saline nasal products are a safe, natural remedy that you can use several times a day. They help loosen mucous and clear away allergens, viruses, and bacteria, thereby preventing respiratory infections and allergies. Coming in at under $3 – 5 per bottle and available in a variety of delivery forms (e.g., sprays, mists, drops, foam), they’re an inexpensive and effective option for babies, children, and adults.
Nasya is a simple holistic remedy used in Ayurveda, an ancient holistic health system that originated in India, that involves the application of nasya oil to the nasal passages. I liken the idea of nasya to lotion for your skin. Just as lotion soothes dry, irritated skin, nasya soothes red, irritated, and dried out nasal tissues. As a result, your nose is able to function properly and sweep away allergens, viruses, etc.
It might sound strange, but it really works wonders! And it’s not at all complicated. Use a few drops or sprays of a commercial naysa oil product in each nostril or simply apply organic sesame oil to the inside of your nostrils using your pinky finger. Tip: Make sure your hands are clean and your fingernails are trimmed.
(6) Room Humidification
Congestion or coughing keeping you up at night? A humidifier is a great way to re-introduce moisture into a room and thereby bring some relief to the respiratory system. Cool steam ones are perfect for children’s rooms and I especially like models that have enough water capacity to last throughout the night.
(7) Aromatherapy Vaporizers
Aromatherapy vaporizers are really effective for respiratory issues, because they diffuse therapeutic essential oils into the air while also introducing some moisture (unlike nebulizers or fan or heat diffusers). They’re especially useful on a bedside table when you want to diffuse essential oils while you sleep. Plus, they’re helpful when you simply want to disinfect the air and prevent other family members from getting sick. For some essential oils to diffuse, check out my post, “Top 3 Essential Oils to Disinfect the Air, Boost Immunity, and Treat Colds and the Flu.”
Disclosure Note: Please note that inclusion of particular brand photos does not entail my personal endorsement of the product unless I say so specifically. Photos are for illustrative and educational purposes only. Many of them link to Amazon, which I have an affiliate account with.
Achilles, N. et. al. “Nasal Saline Irrigations for the Symptoms of Acute and Chronic Rhinosinusitis.” Current Allergy and Asthma Reports 13.2 (2013): 229-35. National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.
Illiades, Chris, MD. “Nose Sprays: A Bit of Relief for Sinus Problems.”EverydayHealth.com. Ed. Pat F. Bass III. N.p., 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
“Your Nose: The Ultimate Air Cleaner | Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics.”Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics RSS. N.p., 4 Feb. 2009. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
Copyright © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2012-2015. All rights reserved.
Photo © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2012-2015.