Cures for the Cold

Well, I think Fall has finally arrived! For most of the country we have been experiencing unseasonably warm weather which I guess has its perks. However, if you’re like me, the changing seasons are welcomed. I love Fall. However, it has its unpleasant side too. The beginning of Fall marks the beginning of cold/flu season. You and your family members may, in fact, experience the nasty side of this time of year and perhaps be wishing for summer all over again.

The impending season change was apparent to me this week. Fall has made its mark on me with my first cold of the season. I really hate being sick. It’s just not fun, just all of a sudden, out of nowhere came a horrible sore throat. I mean, it was awful. I thought I would cry each time I had to swallow, let alone eat. Then after about 48-hours my sore throat was gone, and I was left with nasal congestion and a slight cough, which I’m tolerating.

Nothing about being sick is enjoyable. In fact, at the first signs of illness we usually run to our local drug store and rummage the shelves in pursuit of whatever drugs we can find to alleviate our symptoms. We return home and begin to self-medicate in hopes of finding some relief. Quite often no relief comes. We end up suffering through the next 5-10 days wondering why we wasted all that money on medications that didn’t help. It is interesting to note that the “big” names in children’s cough and cold medication willfully pulled certain brands of their over-the-counter elixirs off the shelves. An article posted by CNN entitled, FDA panel: No cold medicines to children under 6 stated: “Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines don’t work for children under age 6, and giving the common medicine to young children cannot be recommended, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee said.” The article also stated that “Earlier this year, the FDA completed a review that found that between 1969 and the fall of 2006, there were 54 reported child deaths from decongestants and 69 from antihistamines. Most of the deaths occurred in children under 2.”

Actually, it really comes as no surprise, since doctors have been saying that for years. Colds just have to run their course, unless we aren’t getting better and an infection is suspected. For most colds, at-home remedies are our best bet. In the same article listed above it also says: “The American Academy of Pediatrics applauded last week’s decision to pull those products, saying, “These medicines are ineffective and can have serious side effects. There are other ways to treat cold symptoms.”

The AAP suggests:
• Moisturizing the air with a vaporizer or hydrator
• Using saltwater nose drops to dry up a runny nose
• Using a rubber nose bulb to clear up congestion
• Feeding the child soup
• Consulting a pediatrician

And this advice can also apply to adults too. Except you may want to blow your nose instead of using a nose bulb (ha-ha)!

Also, here is some good basic information from Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia that states: “We call it the “common cold” for good reason. There are over one billion colds in the United States each year. The three most frequent symptoms of a cold are:
• Runny nose
• Nasal congestion
• Sneezing
And depending on which virus is the culprit, the virus might also produce:
• Sore throat
• Cough
• Muscle aches
• Headache
• Postnasal drip
• Decreased appetite

It’s no wonder we don’t feel up to par. And I know you’ve been preached this before, but I’m going to say it again. Prevention is key. Medline Plus Medical Enclopedia also says, “It might seem overwhelming to try to prevent colds, but you can do it. Children average three to eight colds per year. It is certainly better to get three than eight!”

Here are five proven ways to reduce exposure to germs:

Switch day care: Using a day care where there are six or fewer children dramatically reduces germ contact.
Wash hands: Children and adults should wash hands at key moments — after nose-wiping, after diapering or toileting, before eating, and before preparing food.
Use instant hand sanitizers: A little dab will kill 99.99% of germs without any water or towels. The products use alcohol to destroy germs. They are an antiseptic, not an antibiotic, so resistance can’t develop.
Disinfect: Clean commonly touched surfaces (sink handles, sleeping mats) with an EPA-approved disinfectant.
Use paper towels instead of shared cloth towels.

Here are six ways to support the immune system:

Avoid unnecessary antibiotics: The more people use antibiotics, the more likely they are to get sick with longer, more stubborn infections caused by more resistant organisms in the future.
Breastfeed: Breast milk is known to protect against respiratory tract infections, even years after breastfeeding is done. Kids who don’t breastfeed average five times more ear infections.
Avoid second-hand smoke: Keep as far away from it as possible! It is responsible for many health problems, including millions of colds.
Get enough sleep: Late bedtimes and poor sleep leave people vulnerable.
Drink water: Your body needs fluids for the immune system to function properly.
Take zinc: Children and adults who are zinc-deficient get more infections and stay sick longer.

Well, I hope the above information will prove to be helpful this season. Maybe we can all stay healthy (that’s the optimist in me speaking). So here’s hoping, wishing, and praying for a mild and uneventful cold season.