Sick with Allergies

There are many occasions where I’ll be the first to say I’m sick of having allergies. But when, like this week, I am actually sick? Allergies make things a little more complicated.

Can I wallow in self-pity for a moment? 😭 No tea, no hot lemonade, no jello or store-bought comfort foods. 😭 No Neocitran, listerine, ear drops, Vicks, or even regular Tylenol. 😭 Not to mention half of the symptoms have me suddenly wondering if I screwed up and I’m secretly having a reaction.

On the bright side, here’s what I *have* been able to use… And on the plus side most of these are things everyone can use, even if you can’t use meds or are pregnant, etc. I try to keep these on hand/in my freezer at all times just in case. Fair warning: discussion of some gross sickness-related stuff ahead.

For that infernal runny nose, or ‘tiny chicken disease’ as some like to call it:

NeilMed Sinus Rinse:

What: This is kinda like a NetiPot. You know, the weird kettle thing you press against your nose and use to pour saline through? Well… The Sinus Rinse is a little easier to handle, can allow for a touch of pressure to get that wad of mucus free.

Disadvantages: I won’t lie, this can be gross. For a rare few people, it can also be painful… If it is, STOP. My sister found her first try excruciating, exactly like “diving too deep”. She had a massive infection at the time, and only tried out of complete desperation.

Advantages: I can’t explain why, but it is oddly satisfying to see great clumps of mucus disappearing down the drain. Not to mention it actually clears congestion quite effectively!!! Works well to combat environmental allergens too 😀

Cost: The device isn’t free, but once you own it the pre-mixed saline packets are very cheap.

Age: They sell similar products for use with children- the adult ones are too big and be prepared for a fight until kids are old enough to squirt the bottle themselves… It took three of us to do my nephew before that point (Day 3 of mr.sniffles all night keeping his sister awake… Both kids were SO cranky).

Drink lots of fluids:

  • Water: Obvious, but this one’s easy. If i want it cold and different, I’ll add frozen fruit. If I want something hot, the advantage to straight hot water is that adding cold water doesn’t really change the flavour!
  • Soup: I try and keep chicken broth, beef broth, and a variety of soups in my freezer. Let me know if you want recipes for such things, they’re very basic. Have to be for me to manage to make them while sick.
  • “Tea”: Don’t get me started on how much I miss tea, and herbs and spices of any kind. They are high on my “need to try this carefully” list. Meanwhile, I have found that a 1:1 ratio of boiling water to milk will make nice warm milk, and I add raw sugar for a bit of flavour.
  •  If you can have herbs… Sage is a powerful decongestant- just don’t use while breastfeeding, as it is effective at drying you up! Mint is related, but much less potent. I used to boil water and make tea with 3-4 leaves chopped up, and then I would steam with the cup of tea for 15 mins and then you can drink it afterwards.

Steam:

There are a couple ways to inhale steam, but be careful- steam burns are not fun and dumping a hot cup of water on yourself is even less so. Try hanging a tea towel over your head to make a tent so the steam is inhaled from a kettle, or mug of tea/hot water. Or close the shower curtain and sit in the closed bathroom while it goes full blast. I know, waste of water. But breathing is more important.

Scratchy, sore throat:

See “Drink lots of fluids” above. Try both hot and cold to see what helps. If cold is more helpful…

Ice cream: I posted two simple recipes earlier- check them out!

Jello: You can make your own from gelatin or agar, unless you’re me. I like to make tapioca pudding and rice pudding instead, though I prefer to eat them hot… They can be served cold as well.

Popsicles: So easy! I made some on half my usual brain yesterday- I just blended frozen blueberries, bananas, milk, yogurt, and a bit of leftover blueberry syrup/jam. So nice on my swollen tonsil.

Disadvantages: If you use too much yogurt, like just frozen yogurt with a few blueberries… It freezes on an angle and can actually be quite sharp. Cut my tongue once. Am more careful now if I see the slanting ice crystals in my Popsicles. Plus they take a bit time to make, though immersion blenders help.

Advantages: Total control of what is in the Popsicle…  And by using fruit you get a lot of added vitamin C- always a good idea when sick. Plus they taste great! (Test before freezing to be sure you don’t need to add anything).

Clogged ear: I can’t STAND the feeling of a lot of ear wax- my ears feel like they produce enough for several Shrek-like candles every year. As a kid, my doctor pulled out a spherical ball (in pieces) that looked to me to be over a cm… So now I will do almost anything to try and prevent that!

I used to use Smilasan Ear Ache drops, and was devastated to realize I can’t anymore… Imagine my surprise when my pharmacist recommended using olive oil and a little dropper! So much cheaper, and while it’s not quite as soothing… It clears out the wax.

Eye drops: Haven’t had any eye infections, but I do know there are some straight saline drops which would be safe. I have to be particularly careful as many eye drops have sulphites, apparently. #sulphitesareineverything

Cough, cough, cough….

See “Lots of Fluids” above.

Plus you can try steam, or breathing cold air can help calm swollen bronchioles. I used to use Vicks VapoRub, so I’m looking into whether I can make something similar with fewer ingredients. Obviously I’ll have to be able to tolerate something like eucalyptus or mint first.

Cautionary Tale: Once upon a time, I found out you can put eucalyptus into hot water and steam, and it helps congestion and coughs. I wanted a hot bath to ease my aches & pains… So I thought why not combine the two? I ran my bath, dumped in eucalyptus oil, and happily climbed in. The smell was so powerful it bugged my sister, and she looked up more information on eucalyptus. I had figured out it’s poisonous to ingest, but she was the one to realize it can be absorbed through the skin! I presume this is true for many herbs… Anyways I got out quickly after she let me know, drank a lot of water, but I was quite woozy/headache/nauseated/weak for several hours. Lesson learned! If you want to combine steaming herbs/etc with a bath, bring it in a mug & set it somewhere you can smell it but not knock it over.

Cough drops

I haven’t found an ideal replacement yet… But I expect frozen berries might be something to suck on? If you have a better solution, let me know!

One last thought:

I’m not a doctor, but if you’ve been sick for over a week you should probably get yourself checked out… Not only are you more likely to be your best self when you’re healthy, but by staying home/resting/ect. you really will be helping to keep others like me from getting it too. My immune system seems to believe it’s fun to collect all illnesses possible from everyone I meet but I disagree. Take care of yourselves, please!

-Janice

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