Well, I am now in the middle of cold #2 for this winter season, and it’s only the beginning of February. So frustrating. Don’t the cold gods know I’m sleep deprived?! Shouldn’t I get a pass this year because I can’t really “sleep it off”, or “rest up”? Guess not. For years I’ve been prone to some nasty sinus infections, and when I was pregnant with A last winter it was no exception. Not being into taking too much medicine while pregnant, I sought out to find the best home remedies for cold and sinus troubles. And I sort of liked not relying on massive amounts of Nyquil to knock me out in hopes of being miraculously cured while in a medicinal coma. So I’m sticking with it again this year as best I can. Sort of like my decaf coffee kick. It’s been over a year for me without coffee and I’m still loving the jolt-less-ness.
Below is a run-down of what I have found to be really helpful. I’ve gotta warn you though, there is really nothing fancy or earth shattering here, mostly just some simple things people have suggested to me here or there that I poo-poo’ed in favor of Sudafed, Afrin, and Advil. But if anyone out there is sick and looking for some home remedies, these are my top picks. And I’d also like to note that I have no insight into the scientific logic behind any of these remedies, I’m sure Google can point you in the direction of that information if you were so inclined…
Sinus Rinse – I try to keep my sinuses extra clean during the winter season. I use the squeeze bottle NeilMed Sinus Rinse (as opposed to the also-popular Neti Pot) and really like it. Yes, it’s totally goofy to shoot water up your nose. And because I know someone out there is wondering, yes, sometimes the liquid can drip down and out of your nose several hours after you do it. So I stick to doing it before bed. It does feel good to flush your sinus cavities out though, and besides (here is where I get a little gross…) watching what comes out is fascinating.
Ginger Tea – chop up about a quarter to a half of a cup of ginger root and put the slices in a saucepan with a cup or two of water (sorry to be so imprecise, but I just eyeball this when I do it). Boil the ginger root until the water takes on a brownish tinge, or until it tastes pretty ginger-y. Pour the liquid into a mug while straining out the ginger, and sweeten with honey as desired. I’ve found drinking lots of this the minute I feel like I might be getting sick to be successful at lessening the effects of a cold, and sometimes avoiding one altogether. For some reason it doesn’t seem to do much after you are in full-on cold mode.
Apple Cider Vinegar – this stuff apparently cures just about everything, which you can read more about here. I’ve heard a few times before that it is an excellent natural decongestant, which was right up my alley. Once I get to the congested stage of a cold, I start to drink a mixture of 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar stirred into 8oz water a few times a day. Make sure you have a lot of tissues on hand because I notice a big increase in “drainage” after drinking this.
Peppermint Oil – my colds are almost always accompanied by intense sinus pressure and headaches. I’ve found putting a few drops of peppermint oil onto my temples and brow bone to be really soothing and helpful at releasing some of that tension.
Ayr Saline Nasal Spray – twice a day when I feel like I’m getting sick, and when I do actually get sick, I do two sprays of Saline into each nostril. It keeps things nice and moisturized up there, which keeps the cold moving on through to run its course.
Humidifier – running a cool mist humidifier at night during the winter, and especially during a cold can also help keep your nose and sinuses nice and moisturized.
Hydration – lastly, don’t forget to keep drinking lots of fluids (I prefer water, OJ and Gatorade). Your body is fighting off that cold which is hard work, so you’ll need to replenish with fluids. I drink a TON when I have a cold. I like to think of it as completely flushing the cold out of my system. But be careful how much flushing you do during the work day if you have lots of meetings. All that liquid’s gotta go somewhere!