I’ve been battling a variety of bugs since Christmas. One day I’ll feel absolutely lousy … another day much better. Back and forth — all month — until yesterday when I spiked a 102F fever and finally went to the doctor.
Yes, I left with a prescription for a Z-Pak, and yes I feel much better. (Thank you, pharmaceuticals.) Generally I try to live as drug-free as possible, which led to this interesting exchange with my doc.
Him: Do you like Sudafed?
Me: It makes me jumpy. I prefer not to.
Him: Well, you’ve got to clear your sinuses out or you’ll just be back here next week. Have you tried a neti pot?
Me: To me, a neti pot feels like water boarding, but I will do a saline spray.
Him: Good, do that and take hot showers. You can try Afrin, but no more than four days. It’s addictive, so use it as little as possible.
I think this is cool. A doctor who is open to non-medical options for his patients to get better, and who doesn’t judge someone for not wanting to take drugs. This is exactly the kind of medicine that I wish more doctors would practice … a holistic approach that doesn’t have “drug and cut” as the first line of defense. (Well, sure, there’s the Z-Pak, but still …)
Three Ways to Clear Your Sinuses
This led to a discussion online and a bit of research by me on how to clear out your sinuses. These are the three I’m using:
Hot showers. Mentioned by the doc. Do it as hot as you can stand. Get it nice and steamy and just breathe. Blow your nose as soon as you get out; you want to get rid of as much snot as possible.
Saline spray / neti pot. The neti pot is a stronger blast than the saline spray. Some people love them, but I am definitely not in that category. Just make sure you’re using sterilized water and make sure the neti pot, itself, is clean. (Yes, there was that guy who died last year of a brain-eating bacteria because his neti pot was contaminated.) I personally use the saline spray and clean both the cap and the nozzle before and after every use.
Facial massage. Start at the top and work your way down. Place your fingers above your brow and with moderate pressure work from the center out. I do the forehead — the brow itself — and push toward my temples. You’ll feel goop moving immediately.
Then go down to the nose/under eye area and, again, work from the nose out, pushing moderately hard to the edges of your face. You’ll feel more goop moving. Finally move to the back of your ears (there’s a little divot there). Start at the divot and push down towards your shoulders. You should be feeling post-nasal drip by now, and yes, that’s your sinuses getting clear.
I’ve been using all of these in combination. I take a hot shower, get out, use a saline spray, blow my nose a bunch of times, then do a facial massage, then blow my nose some more. During the day I keep using the facial massage, and I do the saline rinse/massage once again before bed.
Some people also use eucalyptus oil and geranium oil to help ease the sinuses, which seemed like a cool idea, but I don’t have any essential oils at my house.
If you or a loved one is sick, I hope this helps. I am using these methods in conjunction with medical treatment to help everything move along as quickly as possible, and yes, I feel much better. If you’re not sure, definitely check with your doctor first.
photo credit: heatherbroster