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3 Natural Remedies for Seasonal Upper Respiratory Issues

Three tricks that work, plus one remedy debunked.

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Are you someone who suffers from breathing issues in the winter? For me, the cold weather and extra time indoors causes irritation in my lungs. The wheezing, coughing, sneezing, and overall “inflamed feeling” makes me feel miserable. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple fix — my chronic upper-respiratory issues are probably caused by many factors, including genetics and environment. Yet I can change certain things about my environment and how I take care of myself. Below, the Woman’s World team put together three natural remedies for seasonal upper-respiratory bothers.

1: Cough and sore throat? Don’t use plants; invest in a HEPA filter.

Indoor air toxins accumulate when the cold air limits our ability to open windows, triggering coughs and sore throats. It might be tempting to purchase a peace lily or aloe vera plant — these are plants that were once thought to reduce the amount of toxins in the air. However, there isn’t enough proof to show that these plants remove toxins in homes. Your best bet is to invest in an air purifier with a HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filter), which effectively removes dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria from the air. One we like: the EyeVac Air Filter and Touchless Stationary Vacuum in one (Buy from Amazon, $128).

2: Stuffy and sneezy? Rinse your nose with saline and menthol.

Mold spores, common at this time of year, can make you stuffy and sneezy. But otolaryngologist Michelle Yagoda, MD, says a cooling saline nasal rinse with menthol (like Alkalol Nasal Wash (Buy from Amazon, $20.75 for pack of 3) tames inflammation. Why does it work? Menthol first stimulates and then de-sensitizes certain receptors in our bodies. As a result, it may also work as a pain reliever.

3: Dry breathing pathways? Keep your house humid.

There is strong evidence that hydrating the air in your house lowers active viruses in the air. In one study, high-humidity air reduced the spread of the influenza virus via airborne particles. What also helped: the warmer temperature of the air. Also, it directly benefits us by reducing our upper-respiratory issues: Higher humidity levels keep nasal mucus from drying out, so it traps germs before they make us sick. Don’t have a fancy humidifier? Boil water on the stove for a quick steam fix.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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