Respiratory infections, sinus infections, ear infections – oh my!
Gastrointestinal infections, viral infections, bacterial infections – oh, die…
Currently, I’m extremely ill. I have some sort of awful infection in my head and GI system. I’ll spare you all of the TMI details, but let’s just say I’m a giant ball of disgusting. Lots of phlegm is involved, nausea, and too many trips to the restroom. There’s also severe full body aches and bone crushing fatigue. It’s not pretty.
It got me thinking, what are some must-haves for surviving a nasty infection like this? Here are my product recommendations (and why I recommend them) for surviving an infection while dealing with chronic illnesses.
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Infection Survival Guide
1 – Heating Pad
I use microwaveable heating pads because I like the weight and type of heat. The ability to move around more is also great! One of my favorites are the BedBuddy heating pads: long heated area, easily adjustable elastic strap to hold it in place, moist heat, and comforting weight without being painfully heavy. The heat helps soothe aching muscles and calm muscle spasms (even intestinal spasms).
2 – NeilMed Sinus Rinse
Honestly, I absolutely despise doing these. They’re not comfortable. BUT they help so much with sinus infections! The sinuses are designed to help remove contagions (and other particles) from the air you inhale, but they can only effectively do that if they are properly moisturized. The dryer the sinuses, the more stuff gets past them and into your lungs, or the more stuff gets trapped in your sinuses and causes infection. Sinus rinses help restore the natural moisture balance and allows your sinuses to work better.
I add Alkalol to mine (maybe a tablespoon worth, it’s strong) under the advice of my PCP, and it helps the rinses more effectively reduce swelling and goo buildup in my sinuses. After doing the rinse, my nasal spray medications are far more effective.
3 – Squatty Potty
The Squatty Potty is a great step stool for using the restroom. They fit around the toilet base when not in use to help keep them out of the way. Before getting one, I would always have my feet on tip-toes trying to be more comfortable, and would usually end up doubled over. Now, the stool puts me in a more relaxed position for using the restroom, which makes repeated trips less exhausting. The classic one is the classic white shown in the photo, but they have other materials like clear acrylic or teak to better match your decor or be more discreet.
4 – Electric Blanket
If the body aches get intense all over, a heating pad just won’t cut it. An electric throw or full sized blanket helps warm the body and ease muscle aches. I use a throw on the couch, and we have a queen sized electric blanket on our bed upstairs (it’s got a heat setting for each side). The throw always gets extra warm because the second I put it on me, the kitties are climbing all over me! On days I’m extra sore, I will use a heating pad on the worst spots, and the electric blanket to warm the rest of me.
5 – Epsom Salts
These, again, help with body aches. You can mix them into a warm bath or a foot soak. The magnesium of the Epsom salts helps to calm the nerves and muscles. You can also mix up a 50/50 mixture of Epsom salt and baking soda (and your favorite detox essential oils) for a relaxing detox bath!
6 – Hot/Cold Eye Mask
Whether your sinuses are infected or just swollen/clogged, an eye mask can really help! Same for “fever eyes” (that awful ache you get in your eyes with a fever). Using it warm helps loosen mucus so it can drain more effectively, while using it cold helps reduce the swelling of tissue. Use whichever feels best for you!
7 – Chamomile Tea and Honey
This has been my go-to for as long as I can remember. When I have a sore throat, nothing seems to work better than chamomile tea with honey! And, when you’re sick, fluids are extra important! Don’t forget to drink a lot of water and some sort of electrolyte replacement (especially important if you can’t eat or have vomiting/diarrhea) – I usually drink chicken broth as an electrolyte replacement as I can’t drink most sports drinks. (I can’t have sports drinks due to added ingredients and my complicated diet.)
8 – Hand Lotion & Lip Balm
Washing your hands frequently when sick helps keep people around you healthy, and prevents you from spreading as many germs (and it’s just good hygiene). Unfortunately, frequent hand washing leads to very dry hands. I love both Aveeno and Udderly Smooth lotion to keep my hands moist but not greasy. I apply lotion after every single time I wash my hands.
Your body uses water much faster when you’re sick, so the sensitive tissue that makes up your lips dries out extremely fast! I use either Chapstick Total Hydration (if I’m out and about, my fave is the coconut) or Vaseline with Cocoa Butter to help my lips retain moisture. You can also use a lip balm around your nose to prevent the chaffing that occurs with frequent tissue use!
9 – Face Mask
Wearing a face mask helps to prevent the spread of infection. If you’re coughing or sneezing, it’s even more important to wear a face mask in public places – no one wants your buggies! Also, wearing a mask to the doctor’s office helps prevent you from picking up a second infection!
I chose a Breathe Healthy mask for germ protection. I use a Vogmask in low-germ seasons and for air filtration (it’s an N99 mask), but they technically do not offer and germ specific filtration. The Breathe Healthy masks are not N-rated masks, but they have an antimicrobial layer in them to prevent germs spreading (either from you to the outside world, or from the outside world to you).
10 – Cool Mist Humidifier
You could use a warm mist humidifier, but you have to thoroughly wash them after every single use because warm, moist environments breed bacteria and mold. For that reason, I use a cool mist humidifier (this is not the exact same one as I use, but it was the closest I could find).
Running a humidifier, especially at night, helps moisturize your airways. Dry airways are far less effective filters, and allow far more pathogens to get through to your lungs and sinuses where they can take route. Humidifiers also help to keep mucus thin, and keep your sinuses and lungs happier overall.
These are my top ten tools to help survive an infection! What are you favorite (non-pharmaceutical) tools to help survive infections? Leave your tips in the comments below!