Are You Feeling Under the Weather?

Cold Remedies
Photo by ghindo via Flickr

Are you constantly reaching for a tissue?  Does your throat feel scratchy and raw?  That’s not uncommon at this time of the year.  This seems to be when people get more colds.  Whether that is due to people spending more time indoors in close proximity to each other or the fact that kids are back at school and bringing colds home isn’t known.  But, we all try our best to avoid colds and when we do get them, we do everything we can to get rid of them as fast as possible.

What is a cold?
A cold is a viral, upper respiratory tract infection.  It effects the nose, mouth and throat and can be temporarily uncomfortable.  While colds don’t have the potential to be life threatening like a flu does, they can be very unpleasant.  Its symptoms may cause discomfort, interrupting your sleep and making other activities of daily life difficult.

How do you know you have a cold?
Knowing whether or not you have a cold or a flu is more an art than a science, unless you’re a doctor, of course.  The common symptoms of a cold are sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, headache, mild fever or muscle aches and pains.  To complicate diagnoses, flu symptoms are similar to cold symptoms.   However, a cold is rarely accompanied by a temperature above 101F, the way many flus are.  So, if you have a high fever and severe muscle aches and pains then you might well have the flu.  For a quick guide to whether you have a cold or a flu, check out this table from WebMD.  If your symptoms are more serious than those associated with the common cold, then it might be time to seek medical attention.

How to avoid a cold
The cold virus can be transmitted through air, direct contact or through contact with objects touched by cold sufferers.  Here are a few ways to prevent a cold:

  1. Wash your hands: The best was to avoid a cold is to wash your hands frequently in soap and warm water.   Make sure to wash between your fingers.
  2. Avoid touching your face: Do not touch your nose or eyes after coming in contact with surfaces that might harbor the cold virus, such as door handles, drinking fountains, etc.
  3. Don’t share objects: Avoid using telephones, computers, pens, drinking glasses or towels that are used by cold sufferers.
  4. Do not touch used tissues: Make sure that cold sufferers dispose of their tissues in a plastic lined garbage can, so that handling is not necessary.
  5. Cover mouth when sneezing or coughing: Ask cold sufferers to cover their mouths.  Cold viruses can travel through the air when in close proximity during sneezing or coughing.

Misconceptions about colds
Many people have misconceptions about what causes a cold or what you can do to treat them.  Here are a few myths:

  1. Cold weather causes the common cold: Researchers have not found any link between cold weather and getting a cold.  Since colds are viral, you need to come in contact with the virus in order to catch them.  Cold weather has nothing to do with it.  You can catch a cold anytime of the year, no matter what the weather is like.
  2. Vitamin C prevents colds: No studies have shown that vitamin C can prevent, cure or even relieve symptoms of a cold.
  3. Antibiotics will cure a cold: Antibiotics are only effective on bacteria and colds are caused by the cold virus.  You’ll do yourself no good and, in fact, could actually cause yourself harm by taking antibiotics for a cold.  By taking antibiotics, you will be helping to develop antibiotic resistant bacteria which won’t respond to antibiotic treatments in the future.

Handling a cold
Colds can last as little as 3 days, but can last up to almost 2 weeks. Luckily, a common cold will usually go away by itself if left alone to take its course. The best thing you can do to minimize the length of a cold or its strength, is make sure that you’re doing the things necessary to keep your immune system strong. That includes getting enough sleep, minimizing stress, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Once you’ve caught a cold though, rest up to give your body the strength to fight it and drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated and you’ll get better once the virus has run its course.

Comments (5)

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  1. While Vitamin C doesn’t prevent a cold, antioxidants of which vitamin C is can help the body recover from it more quickly. Vitamins A, C , E and Selenium act as Free Radical scavengers sweeping up the cellular debris left over by the attack of the immune cells. So, while taking vitamin C isn’t going to make a cold go away, it can shorten the length that you suffer from the symptoms and if you take antioxidants regularly, you will be less likely to suffer as long!

  2. If people followed #1 and #2 carefully they’d get fewer colds. These 2 things alone can probably cut colds by a hefty percent. I am washing my hands much more often than I used to, especially after touching door handles and things others have touched. Also, I try to keep my immune system as strong as possible so that going into the cold and flu season doesn’t get me down. Easier said than done, I know.

  3. Thanks for the pointers Talli.

    I’m just getting over the flu now but have still eaten well,ensured I take all my vitamins and have rested plenty.

    As doctors can’t do much to help fight your cold or flu, I find the naturopath to be a very valuable source of info and mine helped me out tremendously.

    Natural is the only way to go!

  4. Mark says:

    Thanks Talli! Always good!

  5. Rania says:

    when my elder daughter catch cold or flu from the school, i put mask when i come close to her so i don’t catch the flu and give it to my 11 months old baby. and i ALWAYS wash my hands before i touch my baby. the doctor told me, even if i don’t get sick (maybe because my immunity system is strong enough to fight it) I still can carry the virus from my daughter and give it to the baby. this way works several times with me.

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