How I Shorten My Colds With Obsessive Oral And Nasal Hygiene

With as many little cousins as I have, getting sick around the holidays is inevitable. These habits make me feel healthier faster.
Publish date:
November 12, 2013
family, oral health, noses, colds, Ayurveda, toothbrushes, Arm & Hammer, flossing, hygiene, Neti pots

If there is one thing I love as much as animals, its kiddies. I may not look child-friendly with all my bells and whistles and tattoos and baubles, but I am one of 30 first cousins, 10 of which are maternal, who are having their own children, and 20 paternal, of which I am the oldest.

This means I am not afraid to change a diaper or play Legos for two hours or even offer a drunk older cuz a crash pad. We have the full range of family over here in the Tri-State Area.

One thing I dislike about the holidays is how I seem to always catch my little cousins' germs. Time after time, right after T-givs, I notice little R (name redacted for privacy) looking green in the corner, and I have contracted whatever he had. It’s always the same adorable bespectacled lil dude, too.

Now that being sick means losing dolla$, I really try to take care to boost my immunity, but this never stops me from picking up bugs, especially from kids.

Not many cultures can boast the first major medical advancements, but Ayurveda can. Practicing yoga has instilled in me some of these very useful cleansing methods. Oral cleansing starts with oil pulling. This gem from Faz points out that regular oil pulling helps to keep sinuses clear, also to pull out toxins and germs. Pulling followed by flossing, brushing, and tongue scraping is a regular regimen.

I use floss picks; they allow me to get in between all of my teeth and then go back with the pick to attack gum fuzz on the sides. I started flossing religiously around the same time as quitting ciggies, and my teeth have never been happier.

After flossing, I open up a new toothbrush. Studies have shown you cannot re-infect yourself with the same germs, but you can sure infect other people you live with with that crusty toothbrush.

I like Preserve brand; their bristles are just right, the curved handle keeps my carpal tunnel at bay both while brushing and using them to clean later on. You can even sign up for a toothbrush subscription which allows you to stock up on freshies so you can be eco-friendly and SO-friendly. Best of all, they are made from recycled plastic, and you can send in five to get one free!

I brush with crunchy tooth powder for normal everyday brushing, but I bust out the commercial goods for these situations, and Arm & Hammer is my go-to. Their baking soda toothpastes foam up something fierce, and allow you to brush not only your teeth, but tongue, cheeks, gums, and the roof of your mouth with ample foam.

Brushing after flossing and oil pulling rinses away all traces of goo that was coaxed out by the former.

Seal the deal on the cleanest mouth ever with a tongue cleaner. Mine is copper and was friggin' cheap. No reason not to have one! They even come on the back of toothbrushes now!

Another nail in the coffin of your virus is the less common practice of Jala Neti, or nasal irrigation. I HATE, I repeat, HATE the feeling of water up the nose. I am an admitted nose-holder when water is coming near my nostrils. BUT when done correctly, that burning sensation never occurs doing a Neti sesh.

Here’s a few of my tips:

-Always used distilled or boiled water. It is not safe to use tap water under any circumstances.

-Never use iodized salt.

-Prepare an entire pitcher’s worth of warm solution.

-Use a pinch of baking soda to adjust the pH.

-Lean forward by bending at the hip over the sink, this helps the water flow better, as it really isn’t necessary to watch the water flow out of your nose.

The practice of Neti helps you reduce the amount of bacteria and pollutants in your sinus cavities. It also thins mucous and rinses away blockages, an ancient ritual to cleanse the nose.

When I finally started using Neti regularly, I felt even an improved sense of smell. When I’m sick, I do up to three pots per nostril to clear out morning boogies. When combined with meticulous oral hygiene, it makes a huge difference in my recovery. It also helps manage that crusty, worn down, heavy feeling in your face when you don’t feel good, making it easier to sleep or watch reruns.

The salty water that you mix up for Neti can also be used for gargling.

Gargling will remove every last bit of mucous from the inside of your throat once and for all. I promise, when you feel like a sewer rat swimming in your own muck that this regimen will turn it around. Once all clean, breathing won’t be as labored and will feel less obstructed.

This is a good time to apply some Vicks under your nose. Pro sick tip: Vicks' Vapor Rub is the jam. When I am sick in any way, whether nauseous or congested, a swipe of this menthol salve really calms down retching or couching. I even rub it on my temples when I have a headache. It also helps to keep the nasal passages open and relaxed after cleansing.

No one likes to be sick, but if I can’t help catching something, it won’t stop me from seeing my baby cousins with their grubby little playground germs. I actually enjoy getting whacked in the head with toy lightsabers, it makes me appreciate the quiet moments in my life that much more before I am resigned to that fate for eternity when the cycle completes itself when I have my own children.