Keeping a Clean, Clear, and Functioning Nose
I have 3 little tricks that I do every day when it gets cold outside to stay on top of my respiratory game. I used to be SO prone to breathing difficulties in the winter, which would often turn into a full-blown mess (no pun intended). I used to just cross my fingers and hope I didn't inhale the exhaled germ-laden breath of any carriers around me, because my nose just felt like it was prone to receiving whatever was floating around.
I don't know about you, but typically when it gets really cold, even if there is no pollen floating around, I get stuffy. Blowing my nose would do next to nothing to help the issue.... totally unproductive. I just had the feeling that I was always on the edge of "getting" something.
Why is this the case? What changed from November to December?
When the furnace goes on, it dries out all the moisture from the already-dry winter air. We all know that our skin suffers during these dry months, but our nasal passages in particular can suffer as well! While keeping your skin from drying out is merely a matter of aesthetics, keeping your nasal passages from drying out is a matter of health.
When your mucous membranes dry out, they become stuffy and swollen. This keeps you from breathing freely, and makes your nose prone to succumbing to foreign invaders in the air.
So - the name of the game is keeping things clean & clear.
Let's look at the things we do daily during the wintry cold & flu season:
- We stay hydrated so our body can flush out the gunk and stay healthy.
- We shower because it just feels good to be clean.
- We sanitize our hands and spray down surfaces that have been "germed on".
- We put on lotion after cleansing so our skin doesn't dry out.
I'm here to tell you that we should be doing the SAME things for our noses!
We tend to be vigilant to do all the above for the rest of our body, but we neglect the part that is on the front lines in terms of exposure to airborne gunk.
- Saline: Keep your nose hydrated so it can flush out the gunk and stay healthy (no more dry, unproductive blowing!)
- Saline: Clean it all out - because it just feels good to be clean.
- Lav + Frank Nasal Spray: Cleanse and spray down the surfaces of your nose that are exposed to yuck
- Moisturizing Nose Drops: Moisturize after cleansing so your mucous membranes don't dry out.
PLUS...diffuse oils nightly. Always diffuse those oils as you sleep when it gets dry and germy in the winter world we must inhabit 4-5 months of the year. Lavender for relaxation, Thieves for immune support, and R.C. for respiratory support are some Starter Kit go-to's, but any relaxing or respiratory-supporting oil will do.
Saline Solution - Cleanse/Flush
I've known about this trick for years. As I was growing up, I watched my mom do it every morning to prevent sinus issues, and I thought it was really weird. I remember thinking to myself, "I would never do something that made me look that odd.. and definitely not on a daily basis! What if, like... someone saw me?!"
Now, 15 years later I've not only posted to the world in detail how I do this in my morning and evening routine, but if you come to my house for a Fall/Winter Immunity Class, I will shamelessly demonstrate it to you in person. I'm just THAT convinced that this works wonders, and I'm unabashedly passionate about spreading the good news instead of germs. Ha.
As I mentioned last winter in my "Immune System Boosting" series, Here's how you do it:
- Get the tissues ready.
- Hold one side of your nose closed.
- Tip your head upside down and put the saline to your open nostril.
- Squeeze the bottle and snort (highly technical term, sorry).
- Do the same on the other side.
- Grab the tissues and blow freely.
I use saline solution for sensitive eyes, from the contacts section of the pharmacy. BUT - I'll probably switch to one specifically for the nose, without any chemical additives. Just saw that Costco now carries a 3-pack! See? My mom and I aren't the only ones doing this bizarre practice.
Lavender & Frankincense Nasal Spray
This is quite the effective little trick. I just LOVE to use this any time I feel a tickle in my nose, or when I've been stuffy, or when I've been in crowds, or when I've been around sneezy kids.
This keeps things clean and clear, with the powerfully calming and cleansing benefits of Lavender, and the epic superpowers of Frankincense. It just works.
After rinsing with saline when I wake up (or before bed, if I'm feeling I need it), I use this spray.
- Sanitize a 1 oz bottle with a nasal fitment (with boiling water or hydrogen peroxide).
- Add a very small pinch of sea salt (NOT iodized).
- Drop 3 drops Lavender and 2 drops Frankincense to the salt.
- Fill with distilled (NOT tap) water, and shake well.
The salt helps the oils disperse in the water instead of floating to the top. Make sure you use distilled, as even purified water from your filters or bottles have bacteria, heavy metals, and chemical residues in them. NOT wise to squirt that up into your sensitive membranes.
For that same reason, I ONLY recommend using Young Living's essential oils. Other oils are full of filler substances (especially if your "frankincense" was a cheap, store-bought one!) or may have pesticides or plastic residue in them.
Moisturizing Nose Drops
It's like lotion for your nose. I KNOW... it sounds like overkill. But trust me. Come January, y'all will be feeling me for sure on this one.
No one likes to be scratchy and itchy, and certainly no one likes those pesky nose bleeds that happen when it's cold and dry. Especially if you live in Colorado, or are going to be riding in an airplane with that desert-like cabin air for any extended amount of time, this one is a must for the winter.
To a 1 oz bottle (shown is a .5 oz bottle), add 2 drops Lavender and 2 drops Roman Chamomile (optional). Fill with almond oil or olive oil.
After "cleansing", I use this on super cold days or on days when I feel like my nose is dry and itchy. Just tip your head upside down, put one drop each side, and again, snort. Massage the outside of your nose. Use a tissue for any excess.
So there you have it - three ways to take good care of your sniffer this winter. Maybe your impression of me has been ruined by my getting down-and-dirty with the graphic details of my respiratory-supporting regimen. But that was a risk I was willing to take in order to help make your world a better place.
May these tips help you keep things clean, clear and under control. Remember - take care of your nose, and your nose will take care of you.