Living Well

Do Neti pots really work?

You may have heard of them before, but neti pots can be a great, drug-free way to get rid of nasal congestion. Learn more about them on the blog!

Neti pots can be a great, drug-free way to get rid of nasal congestion. And, they're covered by a flexible spending account! If you've ever come down with the common cold or suffer from seasonal allergies, you know just how frustrating nasal congestion can be. The annoyance of having to blow your nose constantly, dealing with sinus pressure and inflammation in the nasal passages is an uncomfortable experience that can persist for weeks without proper treatment.

What is a Neti pot?

Neti pots are devices designed for nasal irrigation. Millions of Americans rely on Neti pots to treat sinus problems and provide nasal congestion relief. Neti pots rely on a nasal saline solution that mixes salt and warm water to flush out passages.

Neti pots have roots in the yoga/Ayurvedic medical traditions. They have become increasingly popular in recent years, despite being extremely effective in Western medicine for decades earlier. Neti pots can help relieve congestion, facial pain and pressure. They help sinus cavities to drain freely by thinning secretions, eliminating allergens/bacteria/irritants, and improving one's nasal and sinus health.

How do I use a Neti pot?

Before you use the neti pot, you'll need to create a saline solution of salt and sanitized water to help drain nasal passages. You'll need to combine a 1/4 teaspoon of finely ground, non-iodized salt with 8 ounces of distilled, boiled or filtered water to create this salt mixture. The salt needs to get completely dissolved in the liquid. Lukewarm water is the most comfortable temperature for draining nasal passages.

To start,tilt your head over a sink at an angle. Begin pouring the Neti pot into the first nostril, and it will actually first drain out of the opposite one. Remember to breathe through your mouth to keep your throat sealed as you empty half of the pot per nostril. Blow your nose after emptying out the Neti pot.

Shop for Cold & Flu products, including Neti pots, at FSAstore.com!

Living Well

Can having wet hair outside get you sick?

Can having wet hair outside make you sick? It's a question that people often wonder about, and we'll examine the science behind it in this blog post.

"Don't go outside with wet hair; you'll catch a cold." You've probably heard that numerous times from your parents or grandparents. As much as you may have heeded that wisdom in the past, have you ever wondered if there was any truth behind it? Let's take a closer look at the science to find out if your parents were right all along!

Temperature, wet hair and the common cold

Whether it's the depths of winter or a chilly spring morning, walking around with wet hair may seem merely inconsequential. While it may leave you feeling chilly, it's important to note that the common cold is caused by a virus, not a sudden drop in body temperature. Dr. Pritish Tosh, a physician with the Mayo Clinic, explained this view in an article for the Huffington Post.

"In order to get an infection, you need to be exposed to an infectious agent," Tosh told the news source. "That's what you need to get infected. Going out with wet hair is not going to directly cause an infection. I think more so it just makes people uncomfortable."

However, a recent study published by Yale University in 2015 found that a slight chill can increase the speed in which rhinoviruses (a common cold pathogen) multiply in lab mice, so while it is not a direct cause of contracting the cold, outside conditions like temperatures, wet hair or not wearing sufficient clothing could create the conditions for a common cold to overcome an immune system's defenses.

The Verdict: Wet hair does not make you sick directly! However, it's best to dry your hair year-round before leaving the house to avoid creating optimal conditions for cold and flu viruses to spread. Ultimately, the best defense against a common cold is preventing the spread of germs by using hand sanitizer frequently, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing and actively washing your hands after spending time in public. But, drying your hair before leaving the house couldn't hurt either!

And, of course, always be prepared for any health issue by shopping the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products at FSAstore.com!

If you're already dealing with a cold, shopour Cold & Allergy products for relief!

Living Well

Does my child have a cold or allergies?

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether your child is dealing with the common cold or allergies. How can you know? Here are 4 ways to find out on the blog!

With the arrival of a new season comes its own share of health challenges, especially when those pollen counts begin to soar. If you haven't tested your child for seasonal allergies, why not do that this season? Sensitivity to environmental triggers could emerge at any point during adolescence. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell whether you're dealing with the common cold or a direct response to seasonal allergies.

Here are a few ways to know if it's a cold or allergies:

Duration of symptoms

One of the tell-tale signs of allergies is that they will persist for weeks on end. The common cold which typically clears up in 1-2 weeks with rest and treatment. As long as your child is exposed to indoor/outdoor areas with allergy triggers, he/she will continue to experience symptoms throughout the season, so this is a clear indication that a cold is not the culprit.

Nasal discharge color

In the event that your child has contracted a virus, the color of his/her mucous is an important warning sign that can let you know what your child is suffering from. During a cold, mucous becomes thicker, as well as taking on a green or yellow hue, while those suffering nasal congestion from allergies will have clear, thinner mucous. However, it's important to note that sinus infections can sometimes be caused by allergies and will change mucous color to yellow, so be mindful of this when making a diagnosis.

Shop for Saline Nasal Spray

Product of the week: Boogie Wipes

Fever/Muscle Aches

Allergies can bring about many of the most common cold symptoms, but others only arise in the presence of a virus. A fever and body aches are normal immune system responses, as well as clear signs that the body is fighting an infection and is actively producing antibodies to stave it off. These bodily functions do not occur as a result of allergies.

Shop for Hot and Cold Packs

Product of the week: Bruder My-Medi Cold Compress for Children

Indoor/Outdoor Symptoms

Last but not least, if you find that your child tends to experience watery eyes, a runny nose or sneezing more often outdoors than at home, this is a clear sign that the allergens present in the environment are triggering his/her symptoms. Endeavor to keep your home as allergen-free as possible by removing clothing at the door, cleaning often and encouraging your child to shower frequently to remove any allergens still present on his/her skin and hair.

Shop for Cold and Allergy products

Spring is here, so make sure you're ready for the worst of allergy season by shopping at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products to help keep you and your loved ones healthy year-round.

Living Well

Frostbite: What you need to know

Ever been outside in cold weather for too long, leaving your extremities red, stinging and burning soon after coming indoors? Learn about frostbite! 

winter frostbite riskHave you ever been outside in cold weather for too long, leaving your extremities red, stinging and burning soon after coming indoors? You may have thought nothing of it as you went back indoors, but in reality, you were experiencing the first stages of frostbite.

What is frostbite?

Frostbite is a dangerous medical condition that results in the damage of skin and underlying tissue after being exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Frostbite is a natural result of the body trying to preserve warmth in cold temperatures by the narrowing of the blood vessels at the skin's surface in extremities, which forces blood inward toward the torso to keep internal organs warm. These blood vessels will expand and contract to stay as warm as possible, but if temperatures become cold enough, ice crystals can begin to form within these skin cells, freezing the tissue and potentially causing lasting damage to these extremities.

How do I spot frostbite?

Frostbite takes on a series of stages depending on the temperature/wind chill and how long extremities are exposed to extreme temperatures or direct contact with ice, freezing metals or very cold liquids. These stages include:

Frostnip: This is the earliest stage of frostbite that does not permanently damage the skin. During this stage, the skin of the extremities turns red and feels cold to the touch, but over time could lead to prickling pain and numbness, which can persist as the skin re-warms.

Superficial Frostbite: After an extended period of time in extreme temperatures, exposed skin will advance from reddish numbness and begin to lose its color and become pale as ice crystals form in the underlying skin layers. However, during this stage, as the skin begins to re-warm, it can result in blisters, swelling and bruises.

Severe Frostbite: If frostbite continues unabated, extreme temperatures will continue to penetrate through the skin layers to affect the deeper tissue. This condition is known for its extreme numbness and loss of sensation of cold or pain, as well as a deterioration of the joints and muscles. After re-warming, black blisters will form in the days following, and if significant amounts of tissue die, this could lead to gangrene and possible amputation of the extremity.

How is frostbite treated?

The best treatment for frostbite is prevention. Before heading outdoors, be sure to check the weather forecast and dress appropriately for the temperature, wind speed and precipitation. However, if you suspect that frostbite symptoms are present, you should keep the following tips in mind:

Gently re-warm affected areas: Warm (not hot) water is the best option to slowly re-warm injured areas, so keep them submerged for 15 to 30 minutes until they have returned to a normal temperature. Shop for hot/cold packs.

Take an oral pain medication: Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medications are a wise choice when re-warming your extremities, as this process can be extremely painful and these medications can limit your discomfort. Note: OTC medications require a prescription for FSA reimbursement.

Protect affected areas: Even after re-warming, pay particular attention to those areas of skin that were exposed to extreme temperatures in the following days. Keep them wrapped to promote healing and monitor their condition for signs of bruising or blistering.

Consider medical attention: As a rule of thumb, if you have frostbite symptoms more advanced than frostnip, you should seek medical attention. However, if you do not consult a doctor, be sure to reconsider if blistering, bruising or numbness persists for several days, or if wounds begin to feel hot or extremely painful, the signs of an underlying infection.

As winter gets underway, make sure you have everything you need to keep you and your family healthy all season long at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products to help you make the most of your healthcare benefits.