Cold and flu season – Lymphatic Drainage to the rescue!

Cold and flu season – Lymphatic Drainage to the rescue!

Cold and flu seasonIn the last few weeks, it seems that every patient coming through my office door either has, or is recovering from, a cold or the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity continued to increase through the end of February nationally, and may continue to rage through the end of March or beyond. While there is a lot we can do to protect ourselves during cold and flu season (including frequent hand washing, getting enough sleep, and supporting our immune system with a healthy diet, vitamins and exercise), once we get sick, we have to ride it out and let the bug run its course. Thankfully, if our immune system is functioning well, we are back on our feet in a few days. For some, however, sinus congestion persists, long after returning to work or school, resuming exercise, and getting back in to the swing of social activities. In these colder months, I have heard many of my patients say, “I was sick several weeks ago, and overall I’m feeling much better, but my nose is still stuffy,” or, “I’ve mostly recovered from my cold, but I still have a headache and post nasal drip!”

The lymphatic system contains even more vessels than the circulatory system.

The lymphatic system contains even more vessels than the circulatory system.

When I hear these complaints, I know it’s time to reach in to my bag of physical therapy tools for my lymphatic drainage techniques. Practiced by some physical therapists, occupational therapists and massage therapists, lymphatic drainage is a hands-on therapy, which helps to improve the flow of the fluid in the lymphatic system of the body. The lymphatic system – a companion to the circulatory system, through which nutrition is delivered to cells, and waste is flushed from the body – is a critical part of our immune system. While unfamiliar to many people, the lymphatic system actually contains more vessels than the circulatory system, and is present in nearly every one of our tissues and organs.

When we become ill with a cold or the flu, our lymphatic system works overtime to increase the delivery of infection-fighting cells, and to clear away waste and toxins. Sometimes, especially if we are not drinking enough water, the flow of lymphatic fluid cannot keep up with the production of congesting mucous, so the mucous becomes stuck in our sinuses, where it causes head pain and pressure, post-nasal drip, and throat irritation. Long after we have recovered from the cold or flu, this “gunk” may stay stuck there, and continue to create symptoms. Manual lymphatic drainage helps to increase the circulation of lymphatic fluid, increase immune cell production, and enhance the removal of toxins. When performed directly to the neck and head, these techniques can help the sinuses drain fluid that may have become stagnant, decreasing headaches, sinus pressure and postnasal drip. The technique is gentle, painless, and super effective – all reasons why it is one of my favorite tools to help patients dealing with stubborn sinus congestion and pressure.   I often combine these techniques with craniosacral work to the head and neck, to further reduce head pressure, and allow for better movement of fluids. This can be exactly what is needed to get my clients over the last stubborn remaining symptoms of that never-ending winter cold.

Debbie Turczan is a Physical Therapist specializing in Craniosacral Therapy, with offices in New York City and Long Island.

2017-03-26T15:04:34+00:00Categories: Cold and flu, Headaches, Lymphatic drainage|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Cold and flu season – Lymphatic Drainage to the rescue!