Recently a lot of patients have been coming into the office with sinus congestion.  If you are suffering from this too, there is a simple thing you can do to decrease your suffering without the drowsy side-effects of common OTC drugs.  Steam it!  Yes, that’s right, your grandmother was right, steaming your sinuses is just the ticket.

Tea Time

There are three ‘levels’ of steaming that I recommend, depending on just how bad things are going for you.

Level 1: Plain steam.  Boil some water on the stove, pour into a bowl.  Place your face over the bowl and drape your head with a towel, trapping the steam so it has no where to go but into you.  Breathe until there is no more steam.

Level 2: Steam plus essential oils.  Follow steps for level 1, but add 5 drops of these three essential oils: lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus.  These oils will help clean you out, it will not be fun by any means, but it will give that vapo-rub like soothing effect when you’re done.  The tea tree oil is antimicrobial and it might give your immune system the upper hand.

Level 3: Steam plus white vinegar.  This is when it gets really serious, sinus infection serious.  Follow the level 1 directions and add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the water.  This will be slightly torturous, and it will clean you out good.  The white vinegar will kill the bugs that are lurking up there.

Always try level one first, it is soothing and hydrating and might be all you need to find a little relief from that but you’re fighting.  If level one doesn’t help feel free to bump it out, but be prepared, the other two levels involve quite a few coughing fits, especially if you breathe deep.  Try to breathe normally when doing the other two levels.  Of course if it is too intense, discontinue and return to level 1.

Using any of the above methods, be sure to handle boiling water with caution and avoid burning yourself.

Prevention is always key.  To avoid getting sick in the first place, stay hydrated.  It’s easy to drink less when it gets cold out.  Keep exercising despite the urge to hibernate on the couch under a blanket.  Take a daily vitamin D, 1000-2000 IUs, to keep your immune system happy with less sunshine exposure.

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