By Justin Phillips, D.C.
Early in the year always seems like a primary time for sinuses and congestion. Many people are fighting colds, nasal congestion, chest congestion, or allergies and these issues usually last a while. With the weather hot one day and cold the next, our body is constantly trying to adapt and our immune system suffers. If you are like me and don’t like taking multiple medications for extended periods of time, here are a few things you can do to naturally fight sinuses and congestion.
- Stay Hydrated – There is a debate between cold and hot liquids for congestion, however, there is no real evidence to support that either is more effective. However, warmer liquids do tend to sooth the throat a bit more and they are better for adding herbal teas, honey, or lemon.
- Use a Humidifier – Humidifiers help break up congestion by adding moisture to the air, which helps thin mucus in your sinuses. They are even more effective if you are able to use some essential oils with them. Eucalyptus oils are helpful to break up phlegm so definitely use it if the humidifier allows it. Hot vs. Cold air humidifiers have little to no difference, but I would suggest using “Cold” air for children to prevent accidental burns from warm mist.
- Boost Your Immune System – If your congestion is cold-related, try adding some extra vitamin C to help you get over your cold symptoms faster. Also, herbs like eucalyptus oil (mentioned above) and Menthol are great when seeking fast, short-term sinus relief. Try rubbing Menthol balm under your nose or adding eucalyptus oil to a bowl of steaming water, hang a towel over your head, and inhaling the steam for about 10 minutes.
- Eat Some Garlic – Garlic is believed to have antifungal and antibacterial properties which are useful in treating congestions related to colds. Try sautéing garlic with vegetables or adding a couple cloves to a steaming glass of water and inhaling the steam.
- Chiropractic Adjustments – The purpose behind each adjustment is to increase motion in the spine, and relieve pressure off nerves to allow the body to function optimally. The sinuses are primarily affected by nerves exiting the spine in the top of the neck (specifically the 2nd vertebra or C2). This is a common area adjusted by chiropractors and has shown to have widespread benefits including relief from sinuses, headaches and neck pain.
by Justin Phillips, D.C.
Something that I always ask patients is “What is your daily work routine like? Are you moving around, lifting heavy things, or mostly sitting at a desk?” I ask this because we spend roughly 30% of our lives at work, therefore, the conditions at work are very important. Desk jobs, in particular, tend to create worse posture, severe muscle tension, and pressure on both the nerves and discs of the spine. These complications are mainly due to incorrect workstation setups and a lack of movement throughout the day. Here are a few tips on creating an active & healthy workstation to keep your spine healthy and mobile even if you work at a desk.
First, the desk is typically the least changeable part of the workstation. Most desks come pretty standard and the height usually only differs by a couple inches. However, if you are in a position to use a sit/stand work desk, I highly recommend it. Sitting all day and standing in one spot all day are both equally detrimental to your spine. However, if you have the option to change your position throughout the day, this will keep your back/neck from feeling stiff and painful.
Your seat is the most versatile part of the workstation and can help or hurt a great deal.
- Office Desk w/ lumbar support – this is a good option if you want a chair with a back support. Make sure you get something with a lumbar arch support or you will have a tendency to slouch in your seat creating bad postural habits.
- Stool – this is the type of chair that I would recommend. I have used both a stool and a backed chair and I have noticed that using a stool forces me to focus on my posture and I am less like to slouch forward.
- Balance disc – this is great to have at your desk to occasionally slide in your seat to help generate muscle activity in the lower back. These discs are slim enough to keep next to your desk and they are great for balancing exercises while you’re seated.
When talking about the monitor, there is really only one suggestion and it should be used in every scenario. Get your monitor up to AT LEAST eye level. Having the monitor down causes your neck to lose its natural curve placing enormous stress on your upper back.
Once you have all these things in place, you need to focus on having the correct seated posture.
- First, remember this…….ears over shoulders over hips. This will help promote the natural curves of your spine. Raising your monitor makes this much easier.
- Lift your chair so your desk is at ‘elbow’ height.
- Bring your mouse close so you only use your elbow and wrist to move it, not your shoulder.
Even if you do all these things, motion is still extremely important to keeping your spine healthy. My recommendation is to set some type of reminder every hour to stretch or just get up and walk around for 30 seconds. These frequent breaks from sitting and creating motion will keep your back loose, your discs hydrated, and your muscles relaxed.