Back to Issue

To Your Health

Got Congestion?

Silvia Saldaña


Never fear…winter is here…and it’s loaded with potential colds and flu bugs. Should you catch one of these nasty bugs and become an unhappy sufferer of chest congestion, I’d like to share a wonderful water remedy called hydrotherapy. “Hydro” means water and “therapy” means treatment, so hydrotherapy has to do with “water treatments.” There is a vast array of hydrotherapy treatments that can relieve disease and pain. Here are just a few that may help beat winter illnesses.

One basic treatment is the “hot fomentation.” One of my sons suffered from severe asthmatic flare-ups and these fomentations gave him much relief from chest congestion. I used large bath towels and turned them into amazing hot steamy chest packs to relieve his wheezing. Take a wet, wrung-out bath towel, fold it and put it into a plastic bag and pop it into your microwave for about five minutes. Carefully place the hot steamy towel inside a dry towel, and put it cautiously on the person’s chest, making sure there are at least three folds of dry towel so you do not burn the skin. Wait three minutes, take off the hot pack and briskly rub the skin with an ice cold wash cloth for 30 seconds. Do this three times: A hot pack for three minutes and a brisk cold rub for 30 seconds, ending with cold. To keep the heat in longer, it’s better to use wool covering instead of a dry towel to wrap up your hot fomentation. You can use a wool army blanket that has been cut into fourths and put a dry towel between the skin and the wool fomentation.

Another good treatment for chest congestion or coughing is a heat compress. You start with a cold, wet and wrung-out, cotton sleeveless T-shirt. Slip it on the person’s bare chest and using safety pins, fold and pin the extra material against the body so that the T-shirt becomes very tight and snug to the chest and back. Next, take a clean garbage bag, turn it upside down and cut holes to fit the head and arms. Place this over the wet T-shirt and again pin tightly to the skin with safety pins. The goal is to avoid any air spaces, so the body’s natural warming effect can take place to heat the compress. The last layer is a warm flannel-type long-sleeved garment, buttoned up and snuggly worn to bed all night. The cold compress will become warm within minutes; this is why it is called a heat compress. To finish the treatment in the morning, take off the compress and rub the chest and back area with a cold, wet cloth. This heat compress helps to relieve cough and congestion. You may also use the same remedy for a sore throat. Wrap the throat with a damp cotton cloth, long enough to complete the circle around the neck. Cover this cloth with plastic wrap at least ½ inch over the width of the cloth, and then put a dry wool sock or cloth over both of these and pin with a safety pin. Leave this on for 12 hours or overnight. When you take the compress off, rub the neck with a cold, wet cloth to end the treatment.

These simple treatments will bring health and strength to your body.