Updated on 04.03.07

Got A Spring Allergy? Suffering From A Late-Blooming Cold? Here’s How I Fight Them Without Spending A Lot Of Money

Trent Hamm

I’ve had a spring cold the last few days and I think it may be aggravated by allergies. Thankfully, though, I have a toolbox of frugal items that I use to battle such colds. Here’s what I use.

Cleanliness. I bathe multiple times daily. It does a great job of getting my sinuses flowing and also reinvigorates me, even when I’m tired.

Tea. Try making yourself a cup of tea, particularly one made from fresh ingredients. I like to make Earl Grey tea as well as ginger tea.

Chicken soup. I usually boil a chicken breast, chop it up, then mix it with chicken boullion, but an inexpensive can of chicken soup has much the same effect: it acts as an anti-inflammatory, making breathing and blowing your nose easier.

Boil some water on the stove. Take a large container of water and bring it to a boil on the stove and let it boil away. This humidifies the air naturally and you don’t have to deal with buying or cleaning a humidifier.

Salt water. Put a few pinches of salt in a glass of warm water, then gargle with it. This is about the best solution I’ve found for dealing with a sore throat, even better than throat sprays. Throat sprays have an immediate numbing effect, but the salt water actually seems to affect things for the better in terms of actually treating the condition.

If you decide to buy your own cold remedy, don’t mess around. Get stuff that works, even if it tastes foul. The two things I recommend are Buckley’s Mixture (a syrup) and Fisherman’s Friend (a lozenge). Both taste foul, but both actually have the desired effect of relieving congestion and clearing my head. Plus, both can be taken in very small doses and are still effective, meaning that one purchase can last quite a while.

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  1. Dave says:

    Strangely enough, against allergies I would suggest aerobic exercise. Back when I was heavier (285 and 6’3″) I’d get sick yearly from everything. Lost 80 of that and now even though we are in a sea of yellow I’ve not gotten hit by anything for the past 4 years. I figure it’s greater efficiency of the lungs or some such.

    Otherwise, I’d just suggest increasing your water intake. That will help with the achy feeling that sometimes comes with it.

  2. K says:

    I read about and tried a Yoga move (The Lion) for sore throats and use it often…seems to works for me.


  3. Shem says:

    Good tips, but two questions… wouldn’t boiling off a pan of water be
    a: dangerous if not attended constantly, something I’m not inspired to do when I’m ill
    b: be more expensive to constantly boil the water in energy prices.

  4. Matt says:

    A cost effective way to make chicken soup(possibly cheaper than what was suggested) is buy a whole chicken which are often on sale for 99 cents a pound. Cut the breasts, leg, thighs and wings off of it and use the remaining carcass to make stock adding onion, celery and carrot. Freeze the wings individually for chicken wings and use either the leg/thigh or breast meat for chicken soup. Much more delicious than bouillon and better for you(without all the added salt)

  5. terrence says:

    Nasal irrigation works wonders for me. I USED to get chronic sinusitis. But, I have not had it in over two years, and I can control my spring-early summer allergies with OTC medication. I no longer wake up congested. I use it all year, not just in allergy season.

    I use the small rubber syringe (often used to clear a baby’s ears) to irrigate my nose. I use about a third of a cup of the following mixture each morning and night to flush out my nasal passages. I have passed this on to other folks who love it, too; some use it a few times a day, depending upon the amount of congestion.

    Mix one teaspoon non-iodine salt and half a teaspoon baking soda in two cups of warm water.

    Draw some mixture into the syringe.
    Position your head:
    • Lean over a sink (about 45%) so you are looking directly into the basin.
    • Rotate your head (about 45%) so that one nostril is directly above the other.
    • Gently insert the spout of the syringe the uppermost nostril; do not press the spout against the nasal passage
    • Gently squirt the mixture into the upper nostril – aim for the back of your head; when finished squirting, close your that nostril with a finger, and let the mixture trickle out the other nostril.
    • Turn your head in the other direction and flush the other nostril.
    • Gently blow your nose; you may need to blow it again in a few minutes as your sinuses drain.

    You can use something called a neti pot in place of the rubber syringe.

    This can do nothing but good: the mixture is ph neutral, and keeps for two days. It gently flushes out the nasal passage and sinuses – which is a very good thing, since we do breathe in pollen, etc. And, it is really cheap, compared to prepared nasal sprays/flushes.

  6. Tim says:

    I think you’ll find a humidifier would cost less energy-wise after running the stove to boil water for hours on end.

  7. Rose says:

    I’ll second the motion on Buckley’s.

    I also believe in the immune boosting properties of raw garlic.

  8. Mark says:

    I’ve personally been using a neti pot for the last year or so, I find it way superior to nasal sprays for reducing nasal congestion, it also flushes out pollen and junk from the nasal cavity and sinuses so I find I stay de-congested much longer than with the chemical alternatives!


  9. nanore says:

    Neti Pots are the best, and in some parts of the world are considered a part of normal daily hygiene. They are relatively inexpensive, and some already come with pre-packaged mixes of the solution…which is unneccessary since a simple warm salt water solution will work. For kicks you can add baking soda. It is a similar concept to gargleing with Salt water which my mother has always drilled into my head. I have found it a huge relief for headcolds without the sluggush results of a decongestant. Also, It is allergy season right now and I am back to using my neti pot regularly. My Sister is an art teacher and soon to be full time stay at home mom. She is very talented and makes a lot of ceramics ( including the Thanksgiving gravy dish, and cool little coffee Cups). I am going to let her borrow my neti pot as a model for her to throw some clay and make a some nice ceramic neti pots for sale. I’ll keep you posted if anyone is interested. I’m sure they would be reasonable and a more permanent/attractive alternative to the plastic pots purchased at the Drugstore!

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