Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dealing with the Common Cold

Do you ever catch colds?  Have you noticed that some people seem to catch a lot of colds and other people don’t seem to get sick much at all?

I’m one of those people who almost never get sick, and yet I live with someone who gets sick maybe three times each year.  We live in a tiny apartment and it is a pretty safe bet that we are exposed to the same germs.  So why don’t I get sick?

The common cold is a virus.  We are exposed to viruses all the time, but our immune system fights them off so they don’t get comfortable inside our bodies and start wreaking havoc.

One of the reasons I don’t get as many colds is that I do many things that gird my immune system.  So even though I may have been exposed to the same cold virus, I wasn’t taken down.

I can’t list all of the factors here, but I will say that some of the biggest factors within our control that help boost and strengthen immune system function are:



1. Getting enough sleep (highly underrated and very powerful)

2. Avoiding excessive sugar and grains  (too much sugar suppresses immune function)

3. Getting sufficient Vitamin D

4. Keeping levels of emotional stress low

5. Exercising regularly (five times weekly)

6. Washing your hands (see this blog post for a caution)

But every once in a while, a virus is going to sneak past the goalie and score.  So then what?

The average cold lasts about a week to two weeks. But there are plenty of things you can do to shorten your time in the infirmary.

Recognize that feeling that a cold is ‘coming on.’ There is a subtle tingling sensation called a histamine response that may tickle your nasal sinuses or your throat, or sometimes it will effect your skin from head to toe.  It is often accompanied with a distinct dip in your energy level.  This is an important signal that something is invading your body and it’s time to act.  Act immediately.

Go to bed!  You can really cut short your sick-time by sacrificing one whole day and spending it in bed. As soon as the first hint of a cold is making itself known, take a day off.  You will cut your recovery time in half.

As soon as you recognize this feeling, drink a lot of water.  Drink so much water that you have to pee constantly and there is no color to it.  Also, eat raw garlic, cayenne, fresh yogurt and other fermented probiotics like kim-chee, kefir and kombucha.

Other foods to be favoring include: coconut oil and flesh, omega-3 oils (as found in krill oil and chia seeds), certain spices (turmeric, cinnamon, oregano, cloves), and mushrooms. Choose organic foods whenever possible.

Don’t take medicine if you can avoid it. You want your body to produce antibodies to the virus.  This is the only way to beat it. What we recognize as cold symptoms, (although they are uncomfortable) are a very necessary part of the process. To suppress these symptoms is to prolong our down time.  In fact, some studies have shown that people who take aspirin and/or Tylenol actually suppress the immune system and remain sicker longer.

Try this trick to make your cold (especially upper respiratory infections) go away faster:
Put 3 -5 drops of hydrogen peroxide into one ear. Let it ‘bubble’ for five to ten minutes and then rinse it out and do the other ear. Simple, cheap and effective.

Having said all of that, I also want to advise you to visit your doctor should any of the following symptoms arise:
  • fever above 102 degrees
  • ear pain
  • pain around your eyes accompanied by a green nasal discharge
  • shortness of breath or persistent uncontrollable cough
  • coughing up green or yellow crud
But, in general, if do catch a cold, you are better off without medical attention. Stick to the simple advice I gave you above and notice how will get fewer colds. And when you do get them you will get well soon!

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