by Karen Brier

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January 10, 2013
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Seven tips for dealing with winter colds

This year, with the move and so many house projects, I wore myself out and got a nasty respiratory infection. I spent a week fighting it and a week in bed and a week recovering after the fever finally broke for good. During that time I coughed and sneezed and blew my nose and generally felt sorry for myself. Before it was over, I had tried a lot of things that seemed to help:

Hydrate - in addition to water - lots and lots of water - try some noncaffeinated teas. I like mint and Echinacea with local honey for my throat. I also believe that local honey helps with reducing your allergies, but you have to eat it raw for that - the heat of the tea will cook the pollen.

Steam - my nurse practitioner recommended this and it was amazingly effective: pour boiling water into a bowl with a few drops of peppermint oil. Then sit with a towel over your head and the bowl, taking slow, deep breaths of minty air.

Humidify - if you don't have a humidifier, it's a great purchase and helps with keeping the nasal passages from drying out. You can also boil a kettle or a pot of water on the stove, but be careful it doesn't boil dry. I keep a teakettle filled and sitting on the gas stove in the sunroom, but I also put a warm air humidifier in my bedroom when I am sick.

Salt water - I love my Neti pot. I use a saline solution that came with the pot, but you can use plain salt and warm water. Tilt your head and let the warm, salty water run into one nostril and out the other. Best to do it all year, but when you are sick, it is particularly effective first thing in the morning and last thing at night to clear out the sinuses.

Sleep - I'm a workaholic, so this one is hard for me unless I have a fever, then of course that's all I want to do. But your body needs help fighting all those germs, so rest, relax and sleep as much as you can. Hard to do if you have kids, but try to get at least a good eight hours and a nap if possible.

Boost - your immune system that is. I took a lot of zinc, Echinacea and vitamin C to bolster my immune system. Usually I take supplements in pill form, but this year I found a great lozenge at Raley's.

Get help - if you are sick for more than a week, particularly with a fever - go to the doctor. By the time I went, whatever I had caught had come very close to turning into pneumonia. I resisted longer than I should, but the cough syrup helped me sleep and the antibiotics helped with the fever.

There are many things to try - keep experimenting to see which one works for you.

Reach Karen Brier at, or 790-0072.

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The Record Courier Updated Jan 10, 2013 05:19PM Published Jan 10, 2013 05:18PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.