Colds are caused by any of more than two hundred viruses that infect the upper respiratory tract. They spread through the air by sneezing, coughing or by contact. In response to an invasion by a cold virus, membranes that line the nose and throat become swollen and start producing additional mucus. The result is congestion, sneezing, coughing, sore throat and a general feeling of tiredness, all of which are the body’s way of expelling the virus and getting it to slow down.
Although colds can come at any time of the year, they are most common during the rains. They especially target people whose immune systems are depressed from stress, lack of good nutrition and exercise.
The best treatment for cold is to stimulate your body’s natural defenses as soon as the familiar symptoms first appear. Most colds last 3 to 10 days. Please for the sake of your immunity, don’t be quick to buy antibiotics. Only do so if you are sure it’s an infection (coloured and thick phlegm). You can use natural therapies that have direct antiviral activity and that also stimulate your immune system and eradicate the virus. A recurrent cold is a sign of a weak immune system. You can do without the Over-the-Counter (OTC) medications especially those that just suppress the cold. Instead go for those that have some of these natural remedies to make the cold bearable. Your best bet is to try reliable, natural homemade remedies.
How do I know I have a cold?
Runny nose, sneezing, congestion, cough (dry and wet), sore throat, fatigue, loss of appetite, mild fever
Toxicity, deficient immune system due to lifestyle, poor nutrition, high stress level
Management and Treatment
- Eat lightly: take a lot of vegetables, hot herbal tea and broths (Yam pepper soup). These will let your body focus or healing instead of digestion.
- Stay hydrated: drink plenty of clean water and fluids but nothing with sugar. Sugar depresses the immune system. Take fresh fruits instead of fruit juices. If you must drink juice, dilute it first. Avoid milk and other dairy products, they encourage the production of mucus and only make you feel worse.
- Take a lot of vitamin C: take lots of this up to 4000mg. Vitamin C supports the immune system function by increasing white blood cell activity.
- Take Zinc up to 300mg daily: you can take 15-25mg in zinc lozenge form (every 2 hours). Zinc supports immune function and may have antiviral effects.
- Take a lot of Ginger and Garlic; a capsule of 500mg or you can take it as a tea. It helps with sore throats and chills.
- A simple back rub with a balm will ease some congestion
- Hot baths, steam, help drain phlegm and detoxify the body. Add some eucalyptus oil (Silver Bird), lavender oil. This works like magic!
- Do regular steam inhalation with some drops of eucalyptus oil added especially before bed. You will have a sound sleep
- Reduce the stress. Rest! Most cold medicine are made drowsy for this reason.
- For sore throat, gargle with salt and warm water.
- Honey and Lime are great for irritating dry coughs and is very sweet too.
- Onions when chewed raw are helpful when a person has a clear, burning, nasal discharge that irritates the nostrils and the upper lip.
- Take supplements that have Echinacea, Astragalus, Nox vomica, Gelsemium, Pulsatilla.
- If you must buy cough syrups, buy those with Guifenesin, Psuedoephrine, Bromhexine. They decongest the chest and make breathing easier.
Colds can circulate in the family and even come back to you. Break the cycle by keeping your hands clean, flush the tissue after use. Family members should eat well, wash their hands often.
NB: If the cough is a symptom of an underlying infection of the bronchial tubes or lungs. No treatment is needed. Address the underlying cause for infection or allergy.