It is cold season. I don't care what the calendar says, everyone in my household over the last month has caught a cold. Half of my neighbors are fending one off. Therefore, it is cold season. And, like some of them, I had my cold turn into a sinus infection. I guess I have my answer for my bad headaches of late.
I don't know what remedies you use for terrible colds and sinus pain. I have a few that I use that I thought I'd share with you.
- The first one is the simplest. Take a bowl and fill it up with hot water. Then drape a towel over your head and sit with your face over the steam. The towel will form a little tent that will keep the steam from escaping. Obviously, be careful not to have your face in the hottest steam. You want something as warm as you can tolerate. Then sit with that towel over you until the steam turns cool.
This does a few things for you. The steam encourages your body to relax the muscles of your face and head. This can ease tension headaches as well as sinus headaches. It also encourages all of that gunk to drain out of your sinuses. This can be somewhat disgusting and gross, but it actually does a whole lot to help me feel better because it relieves the pressure in the sinuses. The steam also gives your face all the benefits of a facial, for free. If you want that benefit to stick around when you are done, wash your face quickly with cold water.
- My second solution for feeling terrible from a cold is to gargle with salt water. If your throat is raw from coughing, this is likely going to be uncomfortable. To make it a little less so, I use warm water. I add a half teaspoon of salt to an 8 oz glass of water. I gargle with it for about 30 seconds. It feels like forever, but afterwards, my throat is less sore. It also works to kill the germs causing your sore throat for that cold. It have found it especially helpful when I have had strep throat in the past.
- I will drink warm broth when I am having sore throat problems. It acts a lot like the salt water gargle to help soothe the scratchy/sore throat. It also encourages tension in my throat to relax. This is another solution that works well to ease the ache in your sinuses because you get a little bit of that steam benefit. I prefer chicken broth. Homemade is the best, but just about any broth is going to work for you.
- I will suck on peppermint candies to help with a sore throat. The mint helps 'cool' the throat which relieves the pain. It also has a similar, though more limited, effect on the sinuses. My favorite are the ones that come in the metal tin. I ran out last week and I can't remember the name of the brand. But they're quite strong and work the best, I think.
- Equally soothing in place of cough drops are butterscotch candies. They coat your throat and taste pretty good. After choking down disgustingly flavored cough syrup, you don't particularly want equally gross cough drops. My great-grandmother started that whole process of using butterscotch to treat a mild sore throat in my life. I was a little kid visiting her and I had a sore throat. She gave me a piece of her homemade butterscotch and told me to suck on it. I was amazed that it worked. Now I think of that every time I go to have some butterscotch. The happy memory may be part of the reason why this method helps me too. The placebo effect is not something to ignore.
- A humidifier is my best friend when things get dried out. It is like having the steam treatment but you don't have to worry about burning yourself. Also, you're not stuck in one place all afternoon. It does a fantastic job of helping keep my sinuses moist. (Does anyone else experience the weirdness of having a cold and your sinuses feel dry because everything drains down your throat? Isn't that the weirdest thing ever?) It also makes it a little more comfortable for me to breathe when I have chest congestion, if the mist is cool.
- Lest I forget, warm and cool compresses are a huge help too. They can help soothe swollen sinuses and lymph nodes. They can help soothe achey chests from lots of coughing and congestion. Also, they can just be comforting and help break a fever.
They're all really simple solutions. But they work really well to support what the cold medicine does. And they bring comfort and soothing when you're just not feeling well. Two really big things that I think everyone could benefit from. For my part, I've been using compresses for the sinus pain. It's a bit of a mixed bag on how effective they are right now. But I also haven't started my medication yet. I think after a couple days of having proper medicine in my system for this thing, all of these techniques are going to be super helpful.
I hope you are all feeling well. And if you're not, I hope these little things help you out some.