March 5, 2013

Home Remedy: Kicking that Cold to the Curb!

By Becca
Introduced by Amy

Becca is the cool big sister of one of my best friends, and I am in awe of her skills!  Not only does she rock pretty much anything "outdoors-y" (caving, camping, hiking, etc.) but she also has some MEAN home and mom skills!  She truly lives her slogan: "Do It Yourself". (Plus, she has two stinkin' cute kiddios.)  I'm excited that she is going to share some of her do-it-yourself smarts and help us find some relief when we fall victim to the dreaded cold

After becoming a mom… one of my harshest realizations was that when I’m sick, there are no sick days… Sure as a school teacher I had to find a sub and prep stuff for her, but then I could go home and get some quality R&R. Now that I stay home… home is my place of work and not so much a refuge for relaxation. You can’t just cancel your daughter’s birthday party and stop taking care of the baby for a few days while you’re fighting a vicious head cold. You still have to keep things going, they depend on you. What do you do?

I’ve been stuffy and having some major sinus congestion, w/ an off and on cough for the past 4-5 days. My head was pounding and I just pushed through it. When I stopped for a bit to realize how crummy I was feeling I’d take some decongestants or some night-time cold medicine to get some rest and a little relief from the post-nasal drip at night. The trouble was that I was not getting any better; in fact I was feeling progressively worse—I had completely lost my sense of smell and was starting to feel pain in my ears. I nursed the kids back to health (they were the ones who had given it to me). All that extra care for everyone else was leaving me little time to take care of myself. The past 2 days I’m feeling immensely better and I’m kicking this cold to the curb. Here is what has helped for me. 

Breathing Steam. A lot of the complications from colds are caused by breathing dry air in the winter. When we heat our homes in the winter it makes the air dryer. Use humidifiers, especially at night. When you lie down the mucus draining down your throat and in your airways is more likely to drape across the airway and cause it to tickle making you cough. If it is thick and nasty it can be very hard to cough up; causing wheezing and inflammation from all of that unproductive coughing. If you are coughing and it is not helping to clear your airway you need to suppress it, or find a way to make it more productive. Adding moisture helps. It loosens the mucous and helps you to cough that crap out of there. 

HOT STEAM TREATMENT: to clear sinuses, soothe airways, and prep for a DIY facial. 

Put the kids to bed, get a pot of water warming on the stove. Place a hot-pad on the table near your chair, tissues, and a bath towel. It’s also nice to wash your face and brush your teeth at this point and maybe take a night time cold remedy. 

Insert head here!
Once it starts simmering that’s plenty hot. Bring it to the table and set it on the hot pad. Lean over the pot and drape the towel over your head. Depending on the temperature of the water you may want more ventilation (raise the edge of the towel above the rim of the pot –like if the water is boiling hot). 

Start with slow steady breaths through your mouth. This usually makes me cough after the first few breaths. After I cough up a lot of mucous (which I didn’t realize was in there) I feel so much better and I can breathe deeply and freely… it feels glorious. Afterward your throat may still need something to soothe it like a lozenge if you still have coughs from irritation. 

Then I focus on breathing through each nostril. If one is really stuffy I plug the clear nostril and force the steamy air up through that nostril. Within a few minutes I really have to blow my nose and suddenly I can breathe again! If your congestion is merely from mucous this really works wonders. If you find your airway is still restricted you have rhinitis (inflammation up your nose most likely from all the snorting and sniffling you’ve been doing all day or from irritants: chemicals/allergens). Take antihistamine or maybe just aspirin or ibuprofen (they calm inflammation). 

Hang out under the towel as long as your heart desires. Be sure you allow enough fresh air in; you aren’t getting light headed. If you are super tired and you’re just happy to breathe again go straight to bed. 

If you want to spend a little time pampering yourself, go to the bathroom and do some micro-derm -abrasion on your steamed open pores. Steaming your face is the recommended 1st step for unclogging pores... (I don’t know if it’s just turning 30 or having kids or what, but I’ve noticed that my pores really need some attention lately). 

If you want an easy inexpensive micro-derm treatment simply add some baking soda to your face wash. I soap up my face with my Neutrogena bar, put about a teaspoon of baking soda in my palm and use my finger tips to gently scrub the areas that my pores are most prominent. Add more water if it gets too abrasive and stop before it gets too irritated (you can buy powdered aspirin that prevents inflammation, but I like the finer texture of the soda). 

Rinse your face well with very warm water and then follow with super cold water (like my winter tap water). This helps tighten those freshly cleaned pores. This would be the perfect time to use a clay mask. Either way, finish with a cold rinse and a generous application of comedogenic moisturizer. If not, your pores will feel dry and fill up with oil. The excess oil is what hardens and clogs pores. I wish I figured this out years ago. When my skin was oily I always thought that moisturizer just made my skin worse, but eventually the moisturizer will train your pores to produce less oil. 

So you moms: take a little time out to take care of yourself and get feeling better!


P.S. Try out these tips and let us know how it goes!  
P.S.S.  Hey, I'm not a doctor, so if you are still feeling miserable, you probably need to seek some medical advice!


  1. I just read this with my mouth open, literally, I have a stuffy nose. Perfect timing, THANK YOU!

  2. Thanks! Trying to beat a cold right now, too! I will definitely try this one.

  3. Very helpful for preggo moms, especially, who can't take many medications!

  4. I am so glad I took the timeout to do this religiously over a few days. It made a huge difference. Sandi, I know. I I'm still afraid to take drugs because of all my years pregnant and nursing. I think this works much better than any of the meds. Replaces the muccinex and the stuff for stuffy noses for me.

  5. Some other tips. You can add essential oils to the hot water. I used Melaleuca and it was very strong but man it worked. I also read a tip of mixing 1/4tsp cinnamon powder w/ honey and taking that daily to help with a cold. It was very tasty and helped clear my sinuses too.


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