Although we cannot avoid the occasional head cold or sinus infection, there are a few tricks this time of year that we can do to help resist infection. Our balance with the environment is a key to health and healing. Our body’s organs and systems have an inherent property called Homeostasis, which is an effort through energy expenditure, to maintain a near perfect balance of proteins, carbohydrates, ions, and hydration.
Much of what causes illness is extremes of exposure, which burn our body’s energy as it works to restore the proper balance. Common factors like the weather, things we eat, excessive mental work (stress), lack of restful sleep, and airborne exposures disrupt this balance. Our challenge is to consciously assist our body in its effort to maintain this balance.
Through normal interactions with others in our world we often contract viruses that create nasal congestion, and initiate many of the common head and chest colds. Nasal congestion also results in mouth breathing during sleep, which dries the throat, making us susceptible to throat infections. Nasal congestion usually causes decreased smell and taste which often leads to a loss of appetite and therefore general weakness.
Be mindful that large exposures to dust, pollen, or other airborne particles cause nasal irritation and precede many illnesses. Any extreme exposure will lower our body’s natural resistance to these viruses and often lead to a full-blown infection.
Winter Weather Tips
In the winter months we are susceptible to dehydration. The decrease in air temperature and humidity, along with running the heater, dries our nose. This challenges our nose to do its most important function: to moisturize, warm and filter incoming air. Like an air conditioner or heater that prepares air for us to breath, the tissue lining the insides of our nose warms and humidifies the air we breathe. Cold dry air makes the nasal tissue gives up its moisture and lowers our resistance to infection.
Nose dryness can lead to a breakdown in the lining of the nose, occasionally causing bleeding and allowing airborne virus and bacteria easy access into our body. Nasal saltwater sprays and gels, available over the counter in most drug stores, keep the nose moist and therefore your resistance up. Also, hydrate with water by mouth too and replenish what is given up with each breath to the environment during times of low humidity
The first time you get blood from blowing your nose, is a signal to stop blowing and begin lubricating the nasal passages with saline. Not only is this good in dry weather, but it’s also helpful in occupations or home hobbies where adverse nasal exposures are frequent.