A few Decembers ago I got an epic cold.
Typically I only get sick once a year — something I call it my "annual immune system workout".
But this one was a little different than usual...
I had an abnormally stressful month for a variety of complex reasons (many of which were out of my control), and the day after Christmas I came down with that all too familiar feeling in the back of my throat.
About 7-10 days into my cold I was feeling like it was a little bit more severe than normal. I was basically a walking miserable disaster, so I finally made an appointment as soon as I could with my doctor. By the time I was able to go in for the appointment, I was about two weeks into this cold.
Going to the Doctor
My doctor quickly concluded that I had strep throat, a sinus infection and an ear infection. This was of course surprising to me since I'd never had a sinus infection or ear infection before, but it also made me feel a little bit better about myself for feeling so helpless and out of it for the last two weeks.
Because I knew that I had already struggled through 70% of this on my own and felt like maybe I was about to turn the corner, I made a little deal with my doctor.
I should note, I'm not exactly an easy patient.
My doctor wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and we agreed that I would take it if I wasn't feeling better by the next day.
Now that I knew what was going on, I had some tools that I wanted to try and didn't want to take antibiotics if my immune system had already done most of the work.
And you may be thinking, "why didn't you go to the doctor earlier?!" and it probably would have been smart to do that but quite frankly I get this kind of cold every year, and I have been blessed to have never had an ear or sinus infection before in my life, so I had no idea what that even felt like.
Now it is very familiar feeling I won't forget...
On my way home from the doctor I picked up a few things, and by the next day I was feeling a bit better. I felt like my ear infection had decreased by about 80% and I felt that it was good enough improvement that I didn't need to fill my prescription.
By the next week I was feeling almost completely better.
I don't recommend getting sick and staying sick for 2-3 weeks, but in light of cold season I thought I'd share a few of my favorite tools and remedies with you.
However, keep in mind, that the best defense against this kind of thing to begin with is good nutrition, self-care, stress control, and a positive mindset.
My Favorite Tools:
Here's what worked for me through the worst cold of my life:
Garlic Mullein Oil (like this) - A study that used a similar naturopathic concoction of allium sativum (garlic), verbascum thapsus (Mullein), calendula flores (Calendula), hypericum perfoliatum (St. John's Wort), lavender, and vitamin E in olive oil, concluded that "in cases of ear pain caused by AOM in children in which active treatment, besides a simple 2- to 3-day waiting period, is needed, an herbal extract solution may be beneficial." 
I used the Garlic Mullein oil about twice daily as soon as I knew I had an ear infection. I put it in one ear while lying down on my side and let it soak in for about 5 minutes, then I removed the excess and repeated the process in the opposite ear. Fair warning - It will make your ears smell like garlic bread, but it's totally worth it.
Xylitol Nasal Spray (like this) - Xylitol spray administered to the sinuses is backed by research and proven to have a positive effect on nasal congestion.  I picked up some of this and use it multiple times a day to help clear my sinus congestion. Now, I always have to have some on hand at all times just in case I start to get a cold.
Colloidal Silver (like this) - Colloidal silver has a long reputation of use (over 2,000 years) and is an effective antimicrobial. Silver is also a natural element that is naturally found in food and water. [6,7]
When it comes to using silver for health and immune supportive purposes, the type of silver is very important. Bio-active Silver Hydrosol, which is typically diluted to 10 parts per million (10ppm) is the best that I've come across and the only kind I trust to use in my home. I used this once or twice per day in my ear (just a drop or two), and alternated it with the Garlic Mullein oil. But of course always talk this kind of thing over with your doctor!
While my list could stop there, food also plays an important role, most importantly:
Vitamin C - Vitamin C's role in supporting immune function is nothing new. Deficiency of vitamin C is known to depress the immune system and increase susceptibility to infection. 
One of my favorite ways to get a food based form of vitamin C as often as possible is by eating tropical fruit smoothies regularly. Pineapple, mango and kiwi are some of my favorites.
Natural antiviral and antibiotic agents - Foods that contain natural antiviral and antibiotic compounds such as ginger  and garlic  are essential dietary additions when fighting a cold. I love steeping sliced ginger in a cup of hot water and honey for an easy ginger tea, or throwing a nub of ginger in my fruit smoothie to kick things up a notch.
I hope this gives you some extra ideas for fighting your cold naturally and keeping yourself out of the doctor's office this cold season.
What are your favorite cold remedies? Please share in the comments!