What is catarrh?
Catarrh is mucus blockage or discharge often caused by swelling of mucous membranes and by excess mucus. The symptom is frequently associated with a cold but is also found with other conditions such as sinusitis, ear infection, and tonsil or adenoid infections. Catarrh blockage can result in discomfort in the ear when changing altitudes such as in an airplane or even in an elevator. The mucus drip can cause chronic coughing. Catarrh is the body’s way of trying to remove toxins from the body.
What causes catarrh?
Catarrh can be a symptom of various illnesses. The most common is a cold. The nasal discharge starts out watery but may become thick and yellow. Hay fever or rhinitis can cause a clear discharge, which is also accompanied by sneezing and itchy eyes. An allergy may cause catarrh with similar symptoms. The allergy may be to a particular food, animal dander or pollen. A case of the flu can bring on catarrh, which is accompanied by achy joints, fever and headache.
Catarrh can also be a reaction to spicy foods, dust, cigarette smoke, over-dry air, or cold, damp conditions. These bouts of catarrh are usually relatively quick episodes that tend to diminish as soon as the irritant is removed. It is easier to recognize these causes and have control over them.
It is important to identify the underlying cause of catarrh in order to treat it effectively. If the catarrh is caused by a cold, the best thing to do is to keep the mucous membranes moist and mucus thin.
One way to loosen the mucus is to inhale hot steam. It helps to decongest the airways and thin the mucus throughout the nasal passageways. Adults and children will benefit from the steam of a hot running shower. Close the bathroom door and run the shower at full hot. Sit in the hot steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat often to keep mucus loose.
Raise the humidity level in the house to help keep the nose clear. The air can become extremely dry in winter with the heat running, so it is important to increase humidity. Whole house humidifiers can be attached directly to a furnace. If you don’t have one you can supplement the humidity by using a portable humidifier in each room. It is advisable to leave the humidifier on in the bedroom overnight.
Certain herbal remedies can be helpful in clearing the nasal passageways and reducing mucus production. Eucalyptus oil aids in opening the nasal passageways. It can be used as a tincture and applied to a cloth. Drinking eucalyptus tea is a good way to derive the benefits of the herb. Other members of the mint family are also good for clearing the nose. For allergy sufferers, comfrey tea can be helpful in controlling the body’s production of histamine.
Finally, when dealing with a bout of catarrh, increase your intake of vitamins, particularly vitamins A and C. Be sure to get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water and juice to help clear the mucus. Cut down on the intake of mucus producing foods such as dairy products, wheat and processed foods.