I am just starting to get over being sick. I don’t often get sick but when I do, I can typically treat whatever I’ve got going on naturally with my herbs. Namely Fire Cider. So, when I woke up with a really sore throat and chills, I started with my usual Fire Cider and Ecchinacea Tincture, plenty of vitamins, fluids, and rest. Four days passed and it just kept getting worse. What started as a sore throat kind of cold had me laid up in bed and was starting to feel like it was turning into a sinus infection. I had missed work and my beloved herbs just weren’t doing the trick. Here’s the thing with treating yourself naturally: you have to know when to say I need to get help. In my case, I actually tried going to the doctor but that was an effort in futility as she “just couldn’t fit me in.” (That in itself can turn into a whole a post about what’s wrong with today’s medical establishment, but I don’t want to get too side tracked here…) I eventually went to a walk in clinic and found out that I had a sinus infection AND an ear infection. Oy. I got some meds and went back home to bed. I was in bed with this crud for a WEEK. Today marks Day 11 and I’m just starting to feel like myself again. I’m still totally congested and not even close to being 100%, but at least I’m back on my feet, going to work, and getting some stuff done.
While I was laid up, the sinus pain and pressure as well as congestion (still got the congestion going on actually!) that I was dealing with was bad. I’m no stranger to a sinus infection and I still thought it was bad. But there are a few things that will bring some relief.
One of my favorite ways to get some relief is with a hot compress. A hot compress will help relieve some of the pain and it will also help loosen the mucus to help ease drainage. Just get yourself a bowl full of hot water and a washcloth. I like to keep the bowl nearby so that when the cloth cools, I can dip it back in again. Just lay your head back, close your eyes, and place the folded cloth over your eyes and nose. I like to put another small towel on top to help keep the heat and moisture in. Some people like to alternate with a cold compress, but I find that the cloth cools enough on it’s own before I dip it back into the bowl of hot water. Apply the hot compress several times during the day.
I’m not usually a fan of wet heat, actually really hot conditions in general (you’ll never see me in a Bikram yoga class), but I really loved doing a steam inhalation during this cold. It was so relaxing, I actually felt like I was going to start dozing while I was doing it. Bring a pot of water to boil. You can use the pot for your inhalation, just be careful you don’t burn yourself on the sides. I boiled water in my tea kettle and poured it into a lovely, large glass bowl. Here’s my favorite part: I added essential oils of Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Peppermint to it. Eucalyptus is well known for it’s use in inhalants and vapor rubs; it is a decongestant and expectorant, among other things. Peppermint has a high menthol content, making it helpful with respiratory problems as an expectorant. And I used Lavender primarily for it’s relaxing qualities. Essential oils are quite powerful, so you don’t need a lot. I only used a couple of drops of Eucalyptus and Peppermint; maybe only one drop of the Lavender. Once my water and oils were set, I leaned over the bowl with a towel over my head and inhaled as deeply as could through my nose. It didn’t take long before I was coming up to grab some tissues to blow! If you get light headed or just need some cool air during your inhalation, just take a quick break. I know I did a few times. Stick with it for about 5-10 minutes; you can do this, too, a few times during the day.
Other Ways to Find Some Relief
- Humidity, in general, helps with sinus congestion, including: hot soups and teas, hot showers (but don’t go crazy here, as hot showers are extremely drying to your skin), and using a humidifier.
- Some people swear by their neti pot. I have a love/hate relationship with it, personally. I love the concept of it and when I can do it right and see results, I love it. But, truthfully, I just haven’t gotten the hang of it yet and have struggled with getting the right angle to get the water to flow out the other nostril. So, yeah, that’s the part I hate. =) But, if you’re a fan of the neti, use a few drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract to help fight an infection.
- Saline mists are another way of irrigating your nasal passages. You can purchase some over the counter or you can make your own and use it with a bulb syringe.
- Please keep in mind that saline mists are a very different thing than decongestant sprays. Decongestant sprays may bring fast relief, but used over time, they lead to nasal passage damage, inflammation, and the inability to respond to the decongestant.
- Eating spicy foods can also help open up your nasal passages. If you’re sick and feeling up to, make sure you do the preparation, too. It’s part of the treatment! I know that grated fresh horseradish root always helps clear me up. Other options include chile peppers and wasabi.
Long story short, listen to your body and know when to seek help.
Most illnesses respond well to natural treatments, rest, and nourishment. But if your body doesn’t respond in an appropriate manner or quickly enough given the situation, consult a medical practitioner (ideally one who is open to and versed in holistic treatments). In the case of a possible sinus infection, if you have such symptoms as yellow or green mucus discharge, persistent fever or stiff neck, pain for more than 24 hours, persistent nausea or vomiting, you need to seek professional medical advice. Using natural sinus pain relief is awesome when it’s simply a mild chronic pain or related to a common cold or allergy, but if you have severe pain that is not responding to any natural techniques, you need to see your doctor.