The Best Home Remedies for Common Winter Sniffles
If your nose is runny it’s called rhinorrhea, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a cold or flu. In fact, you can get the sniffles for a variety of reasons – sometimes even healthy ones like exercising – and in winter your nose can run simply because it’s cold.
In this article we take a look at the 3 most common causes for a runny nose in winter and how they can be remedied at home.
The Common Cold
Also known as an upper respiratory infection (URI), when you catch a common cold virus, you start sniffing because the blood vessels in your nose become irritable, swollen and spongey causing fluid (serum) to leak into your nasal passages.
Millions of people catch a common cold at least a few times annually. Did you know? It is quite normal for healthy and growing children to get colds at least 10 to 12 times a year. That is almost one cold a month, whereas adults will catch around 2 or 3 colds over the same period.
Home remedies for a common cold – You cannot prevent getting a cold. In fact, contracting a cold virus can help stimulate and strengthen your immunity response to other more serious viruses. However, it is always good to take vitamins and herbal supplements like vitamin C, zinc, vitamin E, echinacea, and ginseng to support your immune system when colds are particularly rife. This way, you are likely not to end up with secondary bacterial infections in your ears, nose, throat or chest.
Drink warm and soothing homemade elixirs like ginger, honey and lemon tea or seep fresh mint and thyme in boiled water – add honey for sweetness – and as you sip these warm drinks let the liquid rest in your throat for a while before swallowing. Honey, ginger and lemon have wonderful healing abilities and thyme is a natural anti-inflammatory while mint has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Most importantly, no matter the winter temperatures, dress warmly and go outside to breathe in the fresh air. It clears the airways and the head.
If your nose is still runny after 10 days, or you develop earache, a fever or a persistent and chesty cough, you should make an appointment to see your doctor as you may very well have developed a bacterial infection which often requires antibiotics.
This is usually caused by a common cold when the nasal passages become so inflamed and swollen, they cannot drain properly and a thick mucus builds up. You may become extremely congested and the areas of your face around your eye sockets and across your forehead can throb and become quite painful. Hence sinus headaches, which are commonly situated across your eyes and forehead and can be quite debilitating. Fortunately, acute sinusitis clears up within a week or 2. If it doesn’t clear up, make an appointment to see your doctor as you may have developed an infection in your sinuses.
Home remedies for acute sinusitis – Steam your airways with a few sprigs of fresh thyme in boiled water. The most effective way to steam is to pour just-boiled water into a large bowl (add the thyme at this stage), place your face over the steam (be careful not to get too close to the boiled water) and drape a towel over your head. This will trap the steam and allow you to breathe it deeply into your airways. The thyme acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and the steam helps loosen the thick mucus that has built up in your nasal passages and airways. Steam for at least 10 minutes. Keep topping up the boiled water as the steam dissipates. If you have peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils, you can add a few drops to the water with or without the thyme.
Do you own a humidifier? If so, keep it running in your bedroom through the night to help ease your stuffy nose while you sleep. You can use a humidifier for all your winter sniffles, particularly when you are congested. The winter air is dry and a humidifier will eliminate the dryness and moisten your airways.
Flush your nasal passages with a homemade saline solution – see how under HOME REMEDIES FOR SINUS ALLERGY below.
Cayenne pepper is a wonderful natural decongestant. Swallow at least 1tsp of cayenne with honey 2 to 3 times a day or make a warm drink out of it by mixing 1tsp cayenne into a mug of boiled water.
When your immune system reacts to something foreign that enters your body, you develop allergies. Foreign substances can be anything from pollen or pet dander to dust and dust mites. Your immune system goes into fight mode and starts producing antibodies which can cause your sinuses to become inflamed and irritated. This results in persistent sneezing and a runny nose and can cause quite severe congestion in your airways.
It is easy to confuse a sinus allergy or hay fever with a common cold or flu and vice versa because the symptoms can be so similar.
If over-the-counter allergy medications like antihistamine don’t ease your allergic reaction, you should make an appointment to see your doctor as you may require something stronger.
Home remedies for sinus allergy – Flush out your nasal passages with homemade saline solution – 1tsp salt, 1 tsp bicarb dissolved in 500ml preboiled water. You can literally cup around 5mls (per nostril) in your hand and snort up through one nostril and then the other getting the saline solution as deep as you can into the nasal passages. This method quite literally thins the mucus and cleans the airways. You can also gargle with saline solution as it helps heal sore throats and kill germs.
Do you have honey, ginger and garlic in your kitchen? All three contain natural antihistamines which will help clear up symptoms of hay fever and allergy. If you can tolerate chewing on a whole garlic clove or a chunk of fresh ginger, all the better. But you may prefer making an elixir by steeping the garlic and ginger in a mug of boiled water with a teaspoon or two of honey – honey contains antibacterial properties, too.
Do get in touch with your doctor if your winter sniffles end up causing a fever, persistent coughing, abnormal pain or fatigue, or you are not getting any better after 2 weeks of home treatments.
The lenmed Group is a world-class chain of Private Hospitals that brings quality healthcare to communities across Southern Africa.
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Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.