This post was originally published on Korea Ye on January 9, 2013; we’re pulling it out of the archives, because, well… it’s that time of year. Here’s hoping YOU don’t need to use this information!
CONTRIBUTED BY JUSTIN YOUNG
Cold and flu season officially arrived last month when autumn colors turned to dark. For some of us living in Korea, the harsh Siberian winds and bitter cold temperatures brings another nasty thing – sinus infections. But you don’t have to go into self-induced isolation to dodge germs and protect your sinuses. Then try these tips to lessen the amount of germs entering that delicate area in the nose.
Wear a face mask
Many foreigners think it odd to see a Korean wearing a surgical mask outside when it’s cold. However, there’s 2 reasons behind their peculiar behavior. One common reason is that they’re sick and trying to be considerate of others by not spreading their snot, cough, etc. It’s rude in Korea to disrupt others’ lives by sharing your illness. The second one is that they want to protect themselves from the cold air and germs lurking in public places. I suggest buying a Pororo (or some other cute character) face mask from the pharmacy for little ones as their noses are even more susceptible to the harsh winds and germs than adult ones. If you really want protection then check out 3M’s line of surgical respirators that guarantee to filter out 99.9% of airborne germs and other nasty things. Masking up in winter is also good practice for kids when comes yellow dust time in spring.
Use a Humidifier
The germs that cause sinus infections survive better in the winter months due to the lower humidity. They also prey on our dried out sinuses from the overhead HVAC units commonly found in Korean offices, apartments and buildings. That’s why if you’ve ever been to a Korean ENT, they make you sniff humidified air for a couple of minutes to moisten your nasal area. So turning on your humidifier helps keep you breathing easier and the sinus infections at bay.
How? The humidifer increases the moisture in the lining of the nose and upper respiratory track. Thus, making it easier for the body to clear out viruses before they turn into a full bloom infection.
Use a Neti pot/sinus rinse and mist
These are one of the more direct ways of getting moisture into the sinuses. All involve a saline solution, which is a mixture of water and salt. Using a Neti pot or mist washes out the entire sinuses, washing out any mucus, any lingering boogers and/or bacteria. You’ll see all the junk that comes out and feel better afterwards.
Find a good ENT doctor (Ears, Nose and Throat)
As a last resort. Handy to have one on speed dial whether you’re big or little.