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Around the end of April, I developed a cough.  I couldn’t shake it and I attributed it to the rainy weather we had all spring.  When we finally got a string of sunny, dry days in June, the cough died out – for the most part.  It seemed to return while I was at work or whenever it got rainy out.

On July 5, I woke with ringing, plugged ears.  This was the day after fireworks and I assumed that this was because the fireworks were too loud as I’ve had trouble with my hearing being affected by loud noises before.  With this assumption, I used cotton balls and Wally’s Ear Oil to treat my ears and wait for them to get back to normal.  A week later, I was still having difficulty hearing, so I went to the doctor.  My ears tested fine – no fluid behind them or anything.  The physician’s assistant told me that I was probably allergic to mold and that my sinuses were affecting my hearing.  She suggested that I take an over-the-counter decongestant for a couple of weeks.  It worked.  My ears unplugged and my cough, which kept returning when I went to work after having a weekend of not coughing, also eased up.

Not wishing to stay permanently on an over-the-counter med, I wanted to try something more natural in keeping my sinuses clear.  I had heard of Neti Pots from Dr. Mehmet Oz on Oprah.  A Neti Pot is a small plastic pot (it looks like a little plant-watering pitcher) that is used to irrigate the sinuses with warm salt water.  One of our local stores sells Neti Pots – for SIXTEEN DOLLARS!  It’s an exorbitant amount for a little plastic container, especially seeing as how I wasn’t sure if it was going to work for me.  I decided to look for a cheaper alternative.  Here’s what I found:

Cooking oil dispenser

Cooking oil dispenser

As a Neti Pot stand-in, it works pretty well, although there are a couple of things I have to be careful of in using it.  For one, it’s glass, which makes it slippery.  For another, see that metal tip?  If your hands aren’t steady (especially the non-dominant hand), it could cause a serious interior nostril injury.  I’m just saying . . . .

I put in a quarter of a teaspoon of salt and fill it with warm water up to the point where the bottle starts to narrow.  I don’t use the whole thing in one sinus-flushing session.  It takes a while to empty the bottle and the water cools to room temperature after the first use, which makes it feel cool to my sinuses.  I use it twice a day and wash the metal tip after every use.

My sinuses stay fairly clear while using the Neti Pot stand-in regularly, but it’s not a cure-all.  Last Thursday, I woke with a headache, which turned into the Mother of All Headaches that couldn’t be tamed by ibuprofen.  It felt as though I had a giant rubberband squeezing my head around the area of my eyes.  It lasted all damned day.  (I hate headaches.  Can you tell?)  I wasn’t sure of the cause, but I talked to a friend who said that she, too, had awoken with a headache that day.  The next day, my ears felt plugged again.  That’s when I knew that the headache was sinus related.  The weather was gray and we were expecting rain, so it seems that either the dampness brings out the mold, or my head is a great barometer – or maybe both.