I have been lax on several of my duties, including updating this blog, for the past week, and the main reason is that I’ve been battling some sinus issues. Every year in September, there is a 1 to 2 week period where I get an autumnal plague, just when I start wanting to kick into super-productive mode. I don’t know if it’s allergies, the weather shifting, or germs circulating more freely with children going back to school – maybe a combination of the three – but going back through my Morning Pages of recent years reads the same each time (“Ugh, my sinuses… I feel like crap… I’m so tired…”). I, of course, didn’t help matters this year by staying up really late to finish a project last Thursday and then staying up the two following nights for socializing (skanking at a wedding reception while snuffily didn’t help matters either, I’m sure).
I am someone who likes to keep my mind as sharp as possible, and I prefer to allow my body to fight off infections and bugs on it’s own whenever it can. Antibiotics are over-prescribed, allergy meds severely alter my mood and leave me feeling dizzy and “bubble-headed”, and even over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine have their effects. So I only rely on them as a last resort. So, slowly, in the past decade, I’ve developed a routine that works to get rid of my symptoms quickly and gets me back to full-productivity. I’ve decided to share my list with you, so maybe you can test them on yourselves.
Please note: I am not a medical doctor. I do not have any medical studies to back up my list, although they may exist if you decide to hunt for them. I’ve just tested various remedies on myself, and these are the ones that work for me. If they don’t work for you, don’t blame me.
- Sleep is the most important thing you can do when you are suffering sinus issues (or indeed, any kind of ailment). As you can imagine, this is difficult for me to succumb to, but it is necessary. A lot of the further steps on this list merely relieve the sniffle/drainage symptoms enough so that you can get the rest you need.
- Fluids – lots of them, and good quality ones. Water. Herbal teas – I use nettle tea for my allergy symptoms normally and just up my consumption, adding in some echinacea when I think it might be a cold). Pure juices but you should limit these or water them down as excess sugar can inflame the sinuses and worsen the mucous. Bone broths, I cannot rave enough about bone broths, for the vitamin and mineral content and the fat. I also like apple cider vinegar tonics, mixing in either cool water or adding 1 tbsp to hot water with 1 tbsp of local honey if my throat is sore from the drainage. Yes, you will get bloated, but all of that liquid helps flush the gross stuff pouring down your throat and into your stomach.
- Zinc lozenges – I use one that also has vitamin C in it, but primarily it’s the zinc that helps, and sucking on a lozenge over taking a pill allows it to absorb better. Just be careful of the kind you pick, you don’t need to be adding fake sugars like aspartame or sucrolose in your body at this time (or ever, really, but that’s another discussion).
- Steam treatments – if you don’t have a fever, you can soak in as hot of a bath as you can stand and this will help relieve any aching muscles as well. If you do have a fever, boil water in a tea kettle and pour it in a large bowl that can stand the heat. Drape a bath towel over the bowl to trap the steam in, and put your head under the towel to breathe in the steam for as long as you can stand. Take a break when you have to, and repeat for about five minutes, or as long as you can stand it. Both in the tub and at the table, you can add a few drops of lavender and/or eucalyptus oil, which will help open the sinus passages more and allow drainage.
- Hydrogen peroxide in the ears – this is one I have no idea why it works, but it does. Lay on your side and put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide (whatever strength you get at the pharmacy for normal cosmetic usage) in one ear. I wet a cotton ball with the peroxide and squeeze it over my ear until it feels like no air is really getting in. Now, the sensation is very strange. Depending on how congested you are, or how much build-up you have in the ear canal, you will hear/feel the peroxide start bubbling away. You can also occasionally get vertigo, as your body adjusts. You will, quite suddenly, feel massive drainage from your sinuses, and yes, it is gross and disgusting, but the relief is immense. After about five minutes, sit up and drain your ear by tilting your head, then repeat on the other side.
- Neti pot – now, there is some controversy regarding the neti pot. I actually don’t use a real neti pot but instead use an infant nose bulb and a little glass bowl. I start with distilled water, boil it to kill any bacteria it might have picked up from sitting on the grocery store shelves, and add in salt right before use. Suck up some water in the nosebulb and squirt it up my sinuses. Since leaving my office job, I have only had to rely on this once (far fewer allergens and germs that I’m exposed to). But if you try this, definitely be careful. It is painful but cleans out the nasal passages really well if an infection has started.
- For severe nighttime congestion, I like to mix a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil with coconut oil and smear it under my nose – homemade vaporub! Test a sample on your skin to make sure you can stand the tingling sensation, and if you’ve been blowing your nose a lot, the area may be too sensitive for heavy use. But this helps keep the nostrils clear.
I hope these help you in the coming cold season! I’m on the mend myself now, but the rest of my household has succumbed. So there’s a bit of misery still around here. I’m getting impatient to get back to my full energy levels, because I have so many things I want to be working on. As usual.
Edit: I thought these were homeopathic remedies (albeit not the sleeping part) but was pointed out the error of my ways, so I changed the title. I’ve been using the word wrong all these years. The more you know!