Remember, this is not a substitute to seeing your physician when a health problem arises.
Because our head is at the top of our body, we can take advantage of gravity to prevent fluid build-up in the tissues of our nasal and sinus passages. When we feel ill, it is a natural tendency to go ‘lay down.’ Whether we are sick or not, lying down worsens head congestion. This stops the natural flow of mucous around the sinus walls.
Let gravity work for your, not against you! Rest in a head elevated position, or sleep up in a recliner early during the course of a head cold, and you may avoid further infection.
The Case against Nose Blowing
Although blowing your nose relieves the congestion and removes the material from your nasal passages, it may actually work against the natural flow of things.
Usually, our nose fills with thick secretions when fighting off an infection. During this time the sinuses are working overtime to move the secretions from deep in the sinus cavities into the nasal passages. Forceful nose blowing will clear the passages, but if strong enough, it can push these secretions backward, deeper into the sinuses. “TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK.”
If tolerated, the act of deep sniffing, and then clearing the secretions (with the help of saline nasal spray) from the back of your nose and throat actually works more in sync with your sinuses. This can help prevent progression of a cold to an infection.
Saline Nasal Spray
Many, if not most of the head and chest colds we develop are from our exposure to our environment. Mowing grass, indoor cleaning, yard work, weather conditions, work environments and cigarette smoke are a few of the many exposures that lead to illness.
Our body is burdened, and overworked, when we get an excess of these types of exposures. Much of the extra energy consumption occurs at the level of our nasal passages.
Use plain saline nasal spray to your nasal passages frequently throughout the day to cleanse your nose during and for up to 24 hours after these irritating exposures. This will conserve energy, and possibly avoid the early symptoms of a cold from becoming a severe infection that will zap your energy for days!
Flying with a cold
The head congestion that often accompanies a cold combined with the rapid change in barometric pressure during airplane descent can lead to some painful and occasionally damaging effects to the ear. If you find yourself developing a head cold days before a scheduled flight, see your physician.
If not medically contraindicated, taking a decongestant by mouth or using Afrin nasal spray immediately before flight can help clear the ears during descent. Taking steps to stay well hydrated (avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol intake) will also help prevent ear pain/damage.
Remember, this may not guarantee that you will avoid a serious complication. Seeing your physician is the best chance to avoid a potentially serious problem.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery is your best source for information on the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. http://www.entnet.org/