Winter has been a rough time for me the past few years. In central Texas, the cedar pollen, which begins to disseminate in mid-winter and lasts through March, throws a large chunk of the population into a spiral of respiratory trauma known as "cedar fever." Try to imagine the worst allergies you've ever had, and add a touch of the pneumonia, and you might be close to the level of mucusy misery sufferers of cedar fever experience throughout the late winter and early spring months. Last winter, I thought I was dying. I was plagued with a chronic cough, lung congestion, and sinus inflammation, which resulted in an always-sore throat and constant headaches for three months. Sometimes when I would wake in the afternoon (I work nights), my eyes would be swollen completely shut. Never in my life had I been so sick for so long. I tried to remain optimistic, reminding myself that it was just allergies.
I don't take any medication, even mild painkillers, unless I absolutely cannot carry on without it. I keep a bottle of Aleve around in case my migraines flare up again (as if Aleve could begin to conquer the pain of migraines), but, thankfully, they usually expire before we use them up. But cedar fever broke me: I tried everything I could think of to help keep me functioning. Over-the-counter allergy medications had absolutely no effect. Mucinex helped with the coughing, but made me feel tweaked and anxious. Nothing seemed to help.
It was at this point, after noting the suggestion from a few friends, that I began using a neti pot every day. While I suffered from these wretched seasonal allergies, the use of the neti pot soothed and rinsed my ravaged sinuses. At the time, I rinsed every day upon waking, and before sleeping to ensure that I could breath easily while I slept, and reduce post-nasal drip, which worsened my rumbly cough. It took a few months before my body felt completely healed from this ordeal (I pulled a muscle in my lower abdomen and another between my ribs from the heavy coughing). Despite my good health since, I feared the arrival of winter this year and the sickness it would bring. However, here we are in mid-January, and I haven't even had a cold... and I work in a restaurant, where those things really get around.
I now rinse with the neti pot once a day, and have shifted my daily yoga practice to a more cardiovascular style, and the difference in my respiratory health has been quite remarkable. I've had sinus and respiratory issues my whole life, and I can honestly say that the daily use of a neti pot and a regular yoga practice are the only things that have made much of a difference in my health. Exercise is not new to me; I have always been active, but nothing has boosted my immune system like yoga or neti have. I highly recommend them both.