By Dr. Angelina Riopel, ND
“I NEVER catch a cold. Obviously I’m healthy!”
FACT # 1
Unfortunately this is not the case. Never catching a cold often means that your immune system is over-burdened and unable to respond. A healthy immune system will be able to put up a good fight when exposed to a virus. 1-3 colds per year is healthy and it should take approximately 3-5 days to recover. Longer recovery times and more frequent illness can also be a sign of a depleted immune system.
At the first sign of a sore throat you should see your doctor because you probably need antibiotics.
The common cold results from a number of different viral strains. Antibiotics are ONLY effective in bacterial infections NOT in viral infections and therefore are not effective in the common cold. A throat swab will tell your doctor what type of infection it is.
The symptoms of a cold are the problem and should be eliminated!
The symptoms of a cold are actually your body’s immune response to the virus. A healthy immune response will result in symptoms that include the following:
- Fever. A fever is the body’s attempt to kill off the microbe. Viruses thrive within specific conditions and temperatures. So the immune system will increase the body’s temperature in an attempt to kill the virus.
- Runny nose. The flow of watery, clear mucus is the body’s way of flushing microbes and allergens out of the nose and sinuses. Taking drugs to dry this up can lead to a worsening of the infection as well as discomfort. BUT if the mucus turns from clear to yellow/green this tells you that the infection has turned from viral to bacterial; this changes how the infection should be treated.
- Fatigue. Resting conserves your body’s resources, which enables the immune system to fight infection and promote recovery. Not resting will result in prolonging or worsening of the infection.
Prevention and Treatment of the common cold
- Keep your immune system strong and healthy. This is truly the most important factor in cold prevention! There are a number of different herbs and nutrients that are helpful in boosting the immune system in order to prevent and in decreasing the duration of a cold.
- Herbs such as golden seal, echinacea and astragalus and nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C, are helpful in prevention and speeding up the healing process of a cold.
- Honey, garlic and ginger contain a number of properties that supportive and healing during a cold.
- Cold Elixir – in a pot mix 1-2 tbls of fresh grated ginger, 1 tbls of honey, ½ squeezed fresh lemon, (+/-) 1 clove of diced garlic, add hot water and let steep for 10 minutes.
- Wash your hands often and well with regular soap and water. Don’t rub your eyes or put dirty hands in your nose or mouth.
- At the first sign of a cold – gargle with salt water or herbal gargles. The common cold virus enters through the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes and mouth. The first symptoms are typically felt in the throat. Gargling can help to kill the virus in the throat before the infection spreads. The key is start ASAP!
- Stay hydrated. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol as they dehydrate the body. Drink plenty of clean water, herbal teas and chicken soup!
- Rest will encourage a speedy recovery.