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how i deal with being sick

I've been sick all week. Caught a bug. Is it flu? No idea. Maybe.

I don't get sick often. Maybe once or twice yearly. But when I do, it hits hard and there is a routine I go through to allow my body to heal itself.

I'll try my best not to make what I'm about to describe sound gross.


I go through a ton of these when sick, but I can't just use any generic tissue. The generic stuff is too scratchy and can cause me nosebleeds. True, I could use tissues with lotion added (like Puffs Plus), but those feel weird. My go-to tissue is Kleenex Ultra Soft.

For whatever reason, Kleenex uses the absolute ugliest graphic design I've ever seen on a tissue box. It's this weird tropical/floral/jungle thing. Whatever. Those tissues agree best with my nose, so that's what I go with.

Pain relief

When I get sick, I get sore. Fortunately, this is something where I can use generic pain reliever, so I just get whatever ibuprofen is available that's cheap. The 200mg pills work just fine and I only need to take one every 6 hours or so. In fact, I would get 100mg ibuprofen, but unfortunately that's only the chewable kid's stuff, so I just use 200.

I don't need the super strong pain reliever like 650mg acetaminophen. That stuff is for things like arthritis (which I don't have) and is way too much for soreness just from a bug.


Two things here. NyQuil Cold & Flu and a big ol' bag of Halls Cough Drops, lemon flavored.

NyQuil basically comes in two versions. Red and green. The red one works and always has. The green one, a "nighttime" formula, has never worked for me. I know that if it's green and I take it, two things happen. Jack and squat. With the red stuff I actually do get some relief, but not the green.

And where the drops are concerned, yeah I pop those like crazy when I'm stuffed up, usually two at a time.

Clearing the nose

A couple of things.

Neti pot. Salt water through the nasal passageways really does work.

Second, nasal aspirator, but not used in the intended way. These rubber bulbs are jokingly known as "snot suckers" and used for infants. That's not how I use it. I run some warm water into the bathroom sink, press the bulb, dip into the water, fill the bulb, hold one side of my nose closed, breathe out slowly, and while doing that spray water into the other side to rinse it out. I then repeat for the other side. The breathing out is to prevent the water from going up the nose too far and causing choke.

Why do this?

When I'm sick, it's all too easy to keep using tissues to the point where the skin inside the nostril gets irritated enough to bleed, even with the Kleenex I use. I can't just let my nose run, nor can I leave anything drying up in there, so periodically spraying warm water clears everything out without skin irritation. A light pat dry is all that's required afterward.


This is just general disorientation from being sick, a.k.a. "feeling woozy" or light dizziness.

The cause of this is my ears getting blocked up, so I have to do my best to keep the ear canals clear.

I have an eye dropper with bottle for this task, and do it in two rounds.

First round: Hydrogen peroxide in the bottle, fill the dropper, lie on my side, fill the ear canal, wait 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn over, drain the ear into a towel for 5 minutes. Repeat for the other ear.

Second round: In the bathroom, head over the sink, hot (but not ridiculously hot) water in the eye dropper, tilt head to one side, fill the ear canal, wait 10 seconds, tilt head the other way, drain. Repeat 3 to 5 times. Do the same for the other ear.

If you've never done the hydrogen-peroxide-in-ear thing before, yes it will bubble and may itch slightly while the peroxide is doing its thing. But it does a very good job at loosening wax buildup, which is the whole point.

I do not do this every day while sick because it would cause too much in-ear irritation. Only every 2 days at most.

Doing this does not clear up sinus pressure, and I know this. I usually do still have some very slight dizziness from sinus pressure while sick, but at least the ears are clear and aren't adding to the dizziness. I'll take whatever advantage I can get.

Keeping the throat clear

The cough drops keeps the phlegm out for the most part, but I also make a point to brush my teeth more due to more mouth-breathing when the nose is stuffed up, gargle with hot water, and do something else...

...get outside. Even just getting outside for 5 minutes to get in some fresh air does help out quite a bit.

It usually takes a week before everything is cleared out

Some can get through a cold in just 2 or 3 days. I'm not one of those people. It takes a solid week - and by that I mean 7 days and not just 5 - before that cold/flu/whatever is totally gone.

During this time, I get the runny nose, soreness, coughing, dizziness, sense of taste and/or smell gets all jacked up, fatigue, sweats, all of it. I get run through the ringer.

Over the course of that week, there's usually only one day where I'm barely functional to the point where I can't even hold a conversation with someone. I never know when that one day will be, but I always know the day after I feel much better and am on the road to recovery.

Is getting sick now worse since I'm older?

I am a middle aged Gen X, so are things worse for me now when I get sick?


What I have now that I didn't before is knowledge. That nasal aspirator thing I mentioned above? I wish I knew about that thing years ago. Hydrogen peroxide and hot water in the ears? I wish I knew about that years ago too.

How did I deal with being sick in my 20s and 30s? I suffered, that's how. I just dealt with it. Yeah, I had the red NyQuil and maybe I had the cough drops, but that was it.

I know better now. A lot better. It makes my once-or-twice-a-year sickness easier to weather.

Published 2024 May 31

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