The Common Cold and the Flu

Handling the situation naturally

Viruses, not bacteria, are the culprit to giving us the common cold or the flu and I don't want to scare you but these viruses are everywhere, although considered harmless until they land on a host (wow, I must have been one virus magnet).

They particularly take a liking to our nasal passages - the colder, the better. That's why they multiply fast when you are outside on a cold winter day or when you are enjoying cooler temperatures in an air-conditioned room.

Our bodies know when there is a virus getting a party started so it reacts by raising the body temperature (since viruses don't like heat) and it produces extra mucous to flush the virus out of us.

You can't touch this

Keep your hands away from your face! We all touch our faces very frequently, both consciously and unconsciously. To solve this, just be sure you wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face - maybe to take out an eyelash that landed in your eye, apply make-up or to scratch your nose. The virus could be on your hands and that's the easiest way to transport them to your eyes, nose and mouth. Clean hands keep the virus away.

Some other reminders involving the hands:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water just like doctors do, particularly before preparing food. Remember, the space under the nails is a cozy spot for the common cold virus to gather. There is a great chance for you to unwittingly touch your nose, where they are conveniently transported!
  • Avoid shaking hands (or holding hands) with people who have a cold.
  • When using public toilets, use a paper towel to open the door. Some people don't bother to wash their hands before they leave!Eeeeuuw!

Antibiotics for a respiratory virus?

I caught a really mean virus that gave me one awful common cold during that period. After coughing for two weeks (which felt like forever), I gave in and visited the doctor. She recommended that I take antibiotics.

I was desperate. I crossed over to the dark side :-), took the antibiotics, thinking that maybe it would work. After a week, I was back coughing again. Antibiotics are useless in getting rid of viruses.

So, learn from my mistake. Do not just do anything to get rid of a cough. There are other ways to prevent or get rid of that pesky virus.

Down with the common cold or flu? To drink or not to drink

When I was younger, and everytime I had a cold (which was verrry frequent), well-meaning people always advised me to drink lots of "fluids." Now that's a vast selection of drinks! But there are drinks that are good for you and drinks that are not.

To name a few good things:

  • Water is the best drink for rehydrating the body. A cold makes me get lazy to drink but I always do after I blow my nose or use the toilet - fluid out, fluid in! Gross, I know, but it had to be said.
  • If you're getting bored with just water, add some lemon juice. That should excite things a bit :-)
  • Teas can be soothing but be sure to drink more water than tea.
  • Ooooh, honey... is very soothing to the throat if your throat hurts and is irritated. This natural remedy is rich in antioxidants. About two teaspoons should do the trick.

On the what-to-avoid list?

  • Coffee because it contains caffeine.
  • All dairy products since milk increases the production of phlegm. OK, ice cream doesn't fall under fluids but it contains dairy, so stay away.
  • And, as Dr. Mercola recommends, avoid all juices. Whaaat? It turns out, that fructose found in juice will actually make you feel worse -- particularly orange juice!

I grew up suffering from constant colds and daily sniffles and sneezes. My journey towards health started with much frustration over popping pills, antihistamines, steroids (!), drinking all kinds of syrups, getting daily injections of vitamin C, to name a few. After years of just getting by with medication, I thought, "Wouldn't it be better to just prevent a full-blown cold?"

How not to be a host to that viral party :-)
If you easily are down with the common cold, this means that you have to improve the health of your immune system. Some things have to be attended to:

  • Minimize your sweets. Got a sweet tooth? A lot of sugar lowers your resistance. Think twice before taking that SECOND doughnut! Better yet, stay off it altogether.
  • Exercise daily. Choose activities that you enjoy! I would suggest dancing, walking, or yoga (it's the Five Tibetan Rites for me).
  • Eat healthy. If you know you're not taking enough fruit and veggies, increase your intake. Try introducing seaweed to your diet. They're packed with nutrients!
  • If you don't have time for homemade meals, choose a food supplement that suits your body.

And because of these simple tips, I hardly catch the common cold! I can even bike along fields during pollen season without ending up looking like Jabba the Hutt's long lost twin sister.

For more detailed info on getting rid of the common cold, take a look at Finally, the Common Cold Cure: Natural Remedies for Colds and Flu.

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