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Monday, November 9, 2009

While there is no cure and no medications to cure the common cold, there are simple steps that can help to ease the symptoms.

1. If you can, try cutting out some "extras" from your schedule, especially if they are physically taxing. While its generally not a good thing to take a lot of time off from work or school, if you aren't feeling productive, its probably best to stay home and relax. Even though, if symptoms are above the neck only, a little exercise can get your metabolism and immune system working, and the cardio can clear your nose.
2. Take lots of vitamins. Vitamin C is excellent at boosting the immune system. (However, if you just take vitamin pills, your body cannot use them without some other trace elements. Instead of getting vitamin C from pills, try oranges or lemons.)
3. As soon as noticing the onset of cold symptoms (usually starting with a sore throat and/or runny nose) take an antihistamine to minimize mucus flow, sneezing, and coughing which can cause the virus to spread within the body much more quickly, initially overwhelming the immune system response, prolonging the sickness and its severity. Slowing down the initial spread of the virus, will give the body more time to develop resistance and fight off the intrusion, likely reducing the time of sickness and its severity.
4. When your symptoms are at their worst, try an over-the-counter cold remedy eg. Cold-Eeze or Emergen-C. If the symptoms are really bad, try an OTC medicine for a couple of days.
5. Make sure you are taking care of yourself: eating well, drinking plenty of fluids (especially water), and sleeping enough. Again, avoid really physically taxing activities!
6. If you have to go to school/work or be around people, make sure you are doing your part to help keep them from catching the cold. Avoid close contact and sharing of utensils, and definitely wash your hands after sneezing/coughing/blowing your nose.
7. If you still aren't feeling well in week, you develop a fever, or your symptoms worsen, consider seeing a doctor. You may have something worse than a cold.

Many colds can trigger or be a part of an infection in your sinuses. Try to drain your sinuses in the shower using warm salty water. This loosens and gets rid of phlegm inside your head. It also flushes out pollens. ( try a saline nasal spray , bought at your local drug store.) When taking a shower, inhale the steam. It may help loosen the mucus and lessen congestion. Inhale Menthol. Eat warm soups and drink warm tea. They may also help with congestion. Take a few days off from the gym or exercising when you are ill. Start exercising regularly again a few days after you are completely symptom-free. In the meantime, you can passively stretch or perhaps lift light weights, but avoid exercise that will exhaust you. Eat warm, liquidy foods such as chicken noodle soup. If most symptoms begin to be replaced with a cough, then you are probably coming to the end of the cold. Go to bed early. Between seven and eight hours of sleep are recommended for healthy adults. If you are ill, you should get a little more than that.

Don't take antibiotics for a cold. A cold is a virus, antibiotics will be useless. Check with your medical provider for guidance. Not everyone can use OTC medications, and some cold remedies may affect the immune system. Some vitamins are fat soluble, so it is possible to overdose on them. Again, check with your medical provider for recommendations.


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