Cold season can be extremely difficult to weather, especially as the temperature keeps yo-yoing, almost creating a breeding ground for the virus. So, what can you do to prevent a cold? Once you have one, how can you ease the symptoms? These are some of my favorite remedies and prevention methods that I’ve been using over the last few years.
Avoid contact with the virus.
Wash your hands often. Carry some antibacterial hand sanitizer with you to use throughout the day, after sneezing, or after blowing your nose. Try to not touch your eyes, mouth, or nose with your hands. If you have to sneeze or cough, do so in the shoulder of your shirt, instead of your hands. Warm hands are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses, then they are more easily transmitted as you continue touching things.
Get plenty of rest.
The more run-down your body gets, the more likely you are to contract illnesses that you may not have gotten otherwise. Take time for yourself to rest, and try to get a good night’s sleep. Also be sure to bundle up in layers and wrap up in blankets to keep yourself warm.
Boost your immune system.
Many people like to take extra vitamin C at this time of year. There is a product out right now called Emergen-C, that provides 1000 mg of Vitamin C as well as other B-vitamins. Airborne is a combination of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and electrolytes that gives your immune system a boost. It’s available in daytime and nighttime formulas, as well as an “on-the-go” form. Generic versions are very close, but not identical in their content, but cost less. I only use these when I feel rundown or if I feel like I may be getting a cold. Other people still like to use echinacea or zinc lozenges. I’m a fan of Cold-eeze and Halls Fruit Breezers. You can also up your intake of fruits that are naturally high in vitamin C, such as oranges and strawberries. Drink a little more orange juice.
I like to cook using garlic, anyway, but I make an extra point of making special dishes when I’m coming down with a cold. I add chopped, raw garlic to vegetables and pasta. I mix it in butter and indulge in homemade garlic bread. If you don’t like the taste of raw garlic, try it baked. Snip off the tip of a full head of garlic. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Wrap it in foil. Bake it at 400 degrees for about thirty minutes, or until the head is softened. You can then pop the “spread” out onto crackers or bread. I like to just put it in a dish and eat it, because it kind of tastes like garlic mashed potatoes that way.
Drink lots of fluids.
Water is always best, of course, and helps to flush out the toxins. But keeping yourself hydrated can be done by drinking lots of different kinds of liquids. I sometimes find that I feel better if I drink some ginger ale or some fruit juice diluted with it. Chicken soup gives you needed nutrients, as well as keeping you hydrated.
If you’re feeling up to it, brew some of your own tea. Get a fresh ginger root, shred some of it, and boil it in water. After it steeps for a while, strain out the root and drink. Traditional Medicinals is a company that has several natural, organic teas that claim to alleviate some health issues. I really like the “Throat Coat” and “Organic Lemon Echinacea Throat Coat” teas for when I have a sore throat. I also drink “Breathe Easy” and “Cold Care P.M.” when I am coming down with a cold. They do make other teas for when you have a cold, including “Gypsy Cold Care” and “Herba Tussin” for coughs, but I’ve not yet taken those. Airborne’s nighttime version recommends using it with hot water, as a sort of apple cider-flavored tea. You can also brew any other kind of tea you want, such as Celestial Seasonings. Green tea (decaffeinated when you want to sleep) with honey and lemon helps soothe a sore throat. Or simply use hot water with honey and lemon. I also like to drink chicken bouillon when I’m sick, because chicken soup is supposed to be good for you.
Now, I’m not saying that you should go out and get yourself wasted when you are suffering from a cold. Quite the contrary, actually. But my mother always talks about a homemade wine that her parents used whenever they were coming down with a cold. I do not have that recipe, but I have found that blackberry brandy can also coat your throat and help you sleep. I really think that the alcohol helps to kill off the virus. But it’s important to note that you only drink a little bit, or you’ll end up getting sick in a different way. I’ve also found that a little tequila can help. Creamy liquors, like Irish cream, make you cough and produce more phlegm, so it’s best to stay away from those. You also have to be careful if you are taking any other kind of medication. Don’t drink alcohol, even for medicinal purposes, if you are on any kind of medicine.
If I really feel stuffy and crappy, I will take Dayquil on my way in to work. I absolutely love taking Nyquil at night, because it helps me sleep, and it seems to make everything in my head dry up so that I can breathe better. Because these medications can sometimes elevate your blood pressure, a doctor I went to once recommended taking Advil Cold and Sinus, instead. Other medications are also available in your local pharmacy. But please remember that on January 17th, the FDA issued a warning against children under the age of 2 taking cold and cough medicines. (See the cnn.com article here.) If you aren’t interested in cold medicines, you can also find homeopathic remedies in some organic and health food sections of grocery stores.
Chances are pretty good that you will get a cold at some point this year. Try different combinations of the remedies to see what works best for you.