In 2012, I ended up at an urgent care, while out of town. I had just walked out of Les Miserables, in a movie theater, because my coughing was becoming extremely disruptive to the other patrons. In addition to hacking, sneezing, and weezing, I was having trouble breathing. With each cough, I could hear massive amounts of phlegm rattling around in my chest. I was given a prescription for an antibiotic, told to take an antihistamine, and more than likely also advised to use an expectorant. My memory of the visit, and the days following, is fuzzy at best. What I remember clearly, as though it was just yesterday, is asking how long I should take those medications. The provider informed me that, in the future, I should try to to stop sneezes and sniffles before mucus drips down into my lungs, clogging up my airways, and wreaking havoc on my body. I’m sure I looked bewildered as she continued, explaining that it was simply not nice to put my lungs through the shock and potential damage of having bronchitis on a regular basis. I was too sick, at the time, to really process what she was saying. Now I understand. As we age, we feel the pain of what we have put our bodies through, the bumps, bruises, injuries, and poor dietary decisions. Her wisdom can be summed up in the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The Crux of the Issue
I have seasonal allergies, and non-seasonal allergies… My initial symptoms include stuffy nose, congestion, itchy ears and throat, watery eyes, sneezing, and headaches. Ever since I was a child (back in the weekly allergy shot days) I’d ended up with a respiratory infection or bronchitis, at least a few times a year, because I didn’t nip these types of symptoms in the bud. This went on for decades, until what that provider said had sunk in as an important truth. In response, I was willing to reconsider my whole approach to my health. I was prepared to become far more proactive.
Now, I’m aware of the early signs of trouble ahead. As soon as the first symptom appears, I kick into action! I work around the clock to stop the sneezes and sniffles, right away, before my itchy throat gives way to a serious respiratory issue.
Tips and Tricks to Stop Sneezes and Sniffles in Their Tracks
When I have the slightest tingle in my throat, at the first sign of the sniffles, when I wake up with a slight headache, or pressure around my eyes, I go into defense mode. Sometimes, I start acting before the first red flag, because it’s “that time of year”, or I noticed the ragweed count on the rise. Below are the practices and products I’ve come to count on, to get me back on track when I’m starting a downhill slide.
There are ZERO affiliate links in this post, or on this site.
I’ve used the products mentioned successfully and I’m simply sharing them in the hopes they will help you!
Products That Can Help Stop Sneezes and Sniffles in Their Tracks
Throat Coat Tea
The moment my throat becomes itchy or scratchy, I start preparing a hot cup of Throat Coat, a tea made by Traditional Medicinals. It does exactly what the title suggests, providing immediate, and long-term relief.
I wouldn’t call myself a “snotspert”, but I am someone who used to be congested more days than not, and has managed to get things (for the most part) under control. My nasal drip go-to is the Neti Pot. It isn’t fun, and it’s certainly not pretty (well the container may be), but it gets the job done. If you haven’t used one before, a word of caution, temperature matters, the angle you hold your head at matters, and the amount of salt matters. Read and follow the directions to a tee or you will end up burning, gagging, or suffering from some other equally unpleasant predicament.
“Research backs up these claims, finding that nasal irrigation can be an effective way to relieve sinus symptoms when used along with standard sinus treatments. For some people, nasal irrigation may bring relief of sinus symptoms without the use of medications.”WebMD
Nasal Saline Irrigation and Neti Pots
A Non-Product Thought…
Don’t Reach for Medication too Soon
Give the body time to do what it does best, heal itself. If your first instinct is to reach for medication designed to suppress or eliminate fever, sneezing, or coughing, you may be inadvertently stunting your natural defenses. What we perceive as symptoms may actually be the byproducts of the body trying to fight off illnesses. Coughing helps move mucus out of the body, and clears our airways. A fever is your body’s attempt to create an inhospitable environment for invaders. Sometimes, it’s best to take a step back and allow our bodies to do what they’re designed to do.
Sometimes people use medication to give themselves the energy needed to “push through” when their bodies really need to take a break. Or they might take something to help them carry on with daily activities, when they’re contagious and should be isolating for the benefit of others. Listening to our bodies, particularly in the early stages of illness, may be more useful in the long run.
“Over-the-counter medications might ease your symptoms, but the only way to get over a cold or the flu is to give your body time to recover.”Erin Brodwin, Business Insider
Your Cold Medicine Could Be Making Things Worse
Environmental Factors That Can Stop Sneezes and Sniffles
Spring Clean (No Matter What Season It Is)
Dust and mold can cause or exacerbate allergies. Cleaning is essential to keep the allergens at bay. But don’t stop there. When is the last time you changed your air filter? Do you have hardwood or carpets? Hardwood is better because it doesn’t trap dust or pet hair. When’s the last time you bought a new pillow? Do you need a humidifier, or a dehumidifier? Some of these “fixes” may need to be longer-term considerations…
Cleaning, to feel better, is more than a physical solution. Our environment can influence our mood or energy levels. When our space is clean and organized, we tend to be more calm and relaxed.
Fill the Lungs With Moisture, and the Body With Liquids and Nutrients
Steam, Steam, and More Steam!
Run a humidifier (add eucalyptus, if you like). Take a long hot bath or shower. Make pasta and lean over the noodles as you strain them. Boil water, then soak up the steam (from a safe distance). Sit in a steam room (not necessarily in public, where you might expose others). Steam is a great way to keep things moving along!
I can’t say enough about the value of water, whether you’re feeling well or ill. If we’re not feeling our best, it’s easier to become dehydrated. When that happens, it exponentially compounds our issues. Hydration is a key component of bodily self-care. It’s also important to note that many of the symptoms of a cold or flu deplete fluids (as do some of the tips and tricks to stop the sneezes and sniffles). When it comes to water, whatever the body’s lost must be replenished! Did I mention that not hydrating properly may be a source of seasonal allergies?
“When we are dehydrated, histamine production increases and can cause us to have the symptoms of seasonal allergies such as runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes.”Denise Hill, Lifehack
Not Drinking Enough Water? Science Says Your Respiratory System Will Suffer
Feed a Cold, Also Feed a Fever
“When you eat a good-for-you, well-balanced diet, many other things fall in place that keep your body working well. Foods that are rich in nutrients help fight infections and may help prevent illness.”Web MD
Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever?
Were you fed chicken noodle soup when you felt under the weather, as a child? It looks like research has provided evidence to back up this classic home remedy.
“A study from 2000 shows that chicken soup may have anti-inflammatory properties that help ease cold symptoms. Besides, warm liquids and protein will certainly help you stay hydrated. The heat of warm soup will loosen congestion, as well.”Healthline
Common Cold Treatments That Can Actually Make You Sick
Stop Sneezes and Sniffles with Behavioral Shifts
Workout Your Lungs
When I get the sniffles, I’ll head out for a jog! Don’t forget to stuff a few tissues in your pocket. Cardio is king when it comes to getting things moving. It may get messy, but things will begin to clear up. The sweating is an added bonus. It’s important not to exert yourself too much when you don’t feel well. A walk may be all you’re up for. Always listen to your body.
“Though sweating is often underappreciated, it’s important to know why we do it. Our skin, which is the largest organ, is essentially our third kidney. Sweat glands help our skin filter toxins out of the body, which in turn boosts our immune system.”Wiseman Family Practice
The Health Benefits of Sweating
Sleep is Vital!
Get plenty of rest. It’s important for staying healthy for a number of reasons. It helps keep the immune system in tip-top condition. While we’re sleeping, the body is able to divert additional resources toward healing and repair, ramping up our efforts to fight off infections or inflammation. Eight hours might be plenty when you’re feeling your best, but when illness is knocking at your door, don’t hesitate to add a nap!
Remember, An Ounce of Prevention…
We live very hectic lives, going full steam ahead, all the time. Convincing ourselves to slow down can be a challenge. Perhaps we fear that everything we’ve worked for will collapse if we take even a single day off (or is that just me?).
But it’ll be okay! All of the work will still be there tomorrow. The world won’t stop spinning because you slowed down. You may even find people are receptive to your needing time off, if necessary. After all, they don’t want your germs interfering with their productivity.
So here’s your homework. Learn your early warning signs… for allergies, for illness, for exhaustion and fatigue. Then, as those signs emerge take action sooner, rather than later. When you prioritize your health, your body will thank you!