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Monday, October 17, 2011

Combatting the Common Cold

Part of the challenge of living a healthy lifestyle is that sickness does creep in from time to time. I have been struggling with a cold, for instance, for the past couple of weeks. Rest and Fluids are most recommended when you have a cold. What else can help? This is what I found out (cold remedies)-

Cold remedies: What works

If you catch a cold, you can expect to be sick for one to two weeks. But that doesn't mean you have to be miserable. These remedies may help:
  • Water and other fluids. You can't flush a cold out of your system, but drinking plenty of liquids can help. Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas, which make dehydration worse.
  • Salt water. A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
  • Saline nasal drops and sprays. Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays combat stuffiness and congestion. In infants, experts recommend instilling several saline drops into one nostril, then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe (push the bulb in about 1/4 to 1/2 inch, or about 6 to 12 millimeters). Saline nasal sprays may be used in older children. Unlike nasal decongestants, saline drops and sprays don't lead to a rebound effect — a worsening of symptoms when the medication is discontinued — and most are safe and nonirritating, even for children.
  • Zinc. For years, cold sufferers have treated their symptoms with over-the-counter remedies containing zinc. But without sound evidence to support this treatment, doctors generally didn't recommend it. Now a comprehensive analysis of clinical-trial data on zinc and colds has concluded that zinc really does appear to be beneficial. The conclusion comes with a few caveats. Researchers haven't determined the most effective formulation, dose or duration of zinc treatment for colds. Zinc lozenges can leave a bad taste in your mouth, and some trial participants reported nausea as a side effect of the lozenges. Zinc-based nasal sprays, not included in the recent, positive analysis, pose a different problem; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that these products can take away your sense of smell, possibly for good.
  • Chicken soup. Generations of parents have spooned chicken soup into their sick children. Chicken soup may be soothing because of its possible anti-inflammatory and mucus-thinning effects.
  • Over-the-counter cold and cough medications in older children and adults. Nonprescription decongestants and pain relievers offer some symptom relief, but they won't prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side effects. If used for more than a few days, they can actually make symptoms worse.
    Experts agree that these medications are dangerous in children younger than age 2. The FDA is evaluating the safety of over-the-counter cold and cough medications in older children.
    Keep in mind that acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can cause serious liver damage or liver failure if taken in doses higher than recommended. It's common for people to take Tylenol in addition to flu medications that also contain acetaminophen, which can lead to acetaminophen overdoses. Read the labels of any cold medication carefully to make sure you're not overdosing.
    If a cough lasts after your other cold symptoms have resolved, see your doctor. In the meantime, try soothing your throat with warm lemon water and honey and humidifying the air in your house. Avoid giving honey to infants.
  • Antihistamines. First-generation (sedating) antihistamines may provide minor relief of several cold symptoms, including cough, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal discharge. However, results are conflicting and the benefits may not outweigh the side effects.
  • Humidity. Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions — another reason why colds are more common in winter. Dry air also dries the mucous membranes, causing a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. A humidifier can add moisture to your home, but it can also add mold, fungi and bacteria if not cleaned properly. Change the water in your humidifier daily, and clean the unit according to the manufacturer's instructions.
I also went to Whole Foods and have added a couple of supplements to help boost my immune system. The first is Kick-Ass Immune by Wish Garden Herbs. This one has a variety of herbs from Yerba Santa, Baptisia, Goldenseal, Elder Flower, Yarrow, Osha and Echinacea, The other is DefensePlus by NutriBiotic. It includes Grapefruit Seed Extract, Echinacea, Astragalus, Vitamin C, Mushrooms Etracts, Goldenseal & Ginger Root.

The challenge with being sick is that it is hard to stop and take time to heal. I think I compounded and caused a further flare-up of my cold by traveling, staying up too late and going out when I should have stayed home. Now I am paying for it.  I am hoping the immune boosting concoctions will help me finally turn the corner on this uncommonly extended common cold.