Chicken soup, the age-old cold remedy, may indeed have special benefits. When researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center tested the venerable cold prescription in 15 cold sufferers, chicken soup proved more effective than plain hot water in clearing out sinuses.
Use a Nasal Strip
Applied externally to the middle of the nose, nasal strips have an adhesive on one side and stiff plastic ribbing that makes them pull gently outward, opening up nasal passages.
Choose the appropriate size (small, medium or large) and wash and dry your face before applying.
Hot Shower Before Bed
The steam and humidity of a shower causes sinuses to drain and the lining of the nasal passages to constrict, relieving some of the stuffiness of a cold. You can achieve the same effect by sipping a cup of hot tea or having a bowl of piping hot soup.
Avoid drinking cold beverages before bedtime as it may increase congestion.
Use a Saline Rinse
One of the safest ways to unblock congested sinuses and get a good night’s sleep is to use a saline rinse, either in a spray bottle or neti pot (a small container with a narrow spout that’s used to pour small amounts of saline rinse into the nostrils). The saltwater washes mucus and irritants from your nose, and helps the cells that move the mucus work better.
Saline is a safer bet than over-the-counter or prescription spray nasal decongestants. Although topical decongestants effectively reduce congestion, versions that contain pseudoephedrine may cause sleeplessness and agitation.You may be able to breathe easier but not be able to fall asleep.
Some nasal sprays, when overused, cause a rebound effect, called rhinitis medicamentosa. Instead of relieving congestion, the drug begins to cause the problem it’s designed to treat. When people go on using the spray, they get caught in a vicious cycle and can become addicted to the medication.
If you have to use a nasal decongestant, stop after three days and throw the bottle away.
Avoid Sleeping Pills
Prescription sleeping pills may also be a bad idea when you have a cold. “Sleeping pills can exacerbate upper respiratory obstruction in people with sleep apnea, which is a common problem for people who are overweight or obese,” says Michael Thorpy, MD, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
Elevate “waist to head” instead of using elevated pillow
One common recommendation is to prop your head up on pillows to help sinuses drain more easily. Well, it’s a “Bad advice”. “By bending your neck at an unnatural position, you can actually make it harder to breathe.”
Instead, you should use a large wedge-shaped pillow that raises the upper body from the waist up, or raise the head of the bed up by placing bricks, books, or a telephone directory under the legs. Do not raise it more than 7 inches, otherwise tilt will cause you to slide out of bed. The slight incline causes blood to flow away from the head and thus reduces inflammation of the air passages.
Apply Mentholated Gel
This is another venerable treatment that remains popular. And it may help, although not the way many people once thought.
“Studies have shown that menthol doesn’t actually open up the airways
Instead, the cooling sensation it causes makes people feel as if they’re breathing more freely.
Sleep on Schedule
When cold symptoms make it tough to sleep, paying attention to the basic rules of good sleep hygiene is more important than ever.
A now time for a quick recap:
- Avoid stimulating beverages like caffeinated coffee or alcohol in the hours before going to sleep.
- Go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule. (That way, when bedtime rolls around, you’re in the habit of going to sleep.)
- Reserve your bed for sleep (and), not as a place to work, read, or watch TV.
- And if you do find yourself tossing and turning, get out of bed. Do something that you find relaxing until you feel tired enough to go to sleep.
Good sleep hygiene can be as effective as prescription drugs in helping some people sleep, experts say.