How to deal with colds and flu

Once again, it’s that time of year! While catching a cold can make you feel quite ill for a few days, it is not nearly as serious an illness as it may appear to be while you are ill.

The old adage “it takes three days to develop a cold, three days to have it, and three days to recover from it” is fairly accurate; therefore, if your cold has lasted longer than approximately nine days, it is time to seek medical advice, as it may not be a cold at all.

On the other hand, the flu can be a serious illness, especially if you are very young, elderly, or already have respiratory problems. There are numerous flu viruses, and each one behaves differently. What can you do to avoid contracting a cold or flu, and what can you do to alleviate the symptoms if you do?

To begin, let us discuss Colds.

Colds are contagious viral respiratory infections that result in inflammation of the nasal and throat linings. Antibiotics will not help, as they are caused by a virus, but there are numerous natural remedies that will help you cope. Everyone is familiar with the symptoms of the common cold, which include nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery eyes, stuffy head, headache, minor muscle aches and pains, fatigue, and a sore throat.

What is the cause of colds?

There are over 200 distinct strains of the common cold virus. Over time, the majority of adults develop immunity to the majority of them. The symptoms are not caused by the virus, but by your body’s defense mechanisms attempting to eliminate it.

Colds are easily spread through direct and indirect contact with a cold sufferer, or through the air from someone who already has a cold sneezing or coughing. Colds are not caused by exposure to cold, wet winter weather, but by a weakened immune system caused by stress, overwork, and other factors. Additionally, it is believed that indoor (central) heating and dry air may drier your nasal passages, making them more receptive to cold viruses. (Think about using a humidifier.)

Preventing Colds

The long-term solution is to maintain a strong immune system through stress management and a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, practitioners of Chinese Medicine and Qigong recommend that you maintain your vital life force energy (qi/chi) through Tai Chi, Chi Kung, or self-healing energy (as in Reiki). By engaging in these energy exercises, you can elevate your energy vibrations to a level that protects you from external pathogenic factors (germs and viruses). Additionally, limit your exposure to the cold virus by frequently washing your hands, avoiding people who have colds, avoiding sharing towels and phones, and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands.

Natural Cold Cure

Supplements can assist you in recovering more quickly and alleviate some of your symptoms. Vitamin C, the most frequently recommended, does not actually prevent colds, but it does help boost your immune system’s response to viruses and shortens their duration.

Vitamin A, when taken in large doses (50,000 IU twice daily) at the first sign of a cold, can aid in the virus’s fight. Do not exceed five days with such high doses. Additionally, if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, limit your vitamin A intake to 5,000 IU per day.

Ginger is the Ayurvedic cold remedy of choice. Combine equal parts ginger, cinnamon, and lemongrass in a cup of hot water and steep for approximately 10 minutes. Add honey to taste. Alternatively, substitute a pinch of cardamom for the lemongrass.

Echinacea is an immune stimulant. This natural antiviral herb should not be used for an extended period of time. Goldenseal can be taken in conjunction with echinacea and is effective at alleviating cold symptoms.

Zinc lozenges may also aid in the recovery process and alleviate sore throats. (Look for zinc gluconate, glycinate, and ascorbate lozenges.)

Gargling with warm, salty water several times a day can help soothe a sore throat, as can drinking hot liquids such as tea or chicken soup. Why not take a nap in bed if you’re feeling bad?

When to consult a physician

Pneumonia may be a risk for infants and the elderly. If the cold worsens after a few days and you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, a productive cough, and a high fever, see a doctor.

If you have asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema, be prepared to contact your physician if your condition appears to be deteriorating.

How to Deal with the Flu (Influenza)

The influenza virus is highly contagious. While a bad cold is similar to a mild flu, a more severe case of flu affects the entire body, with a fever of 101°F to 103°F, chills, pounding headaches, joint and muscle pain, cough, dry or burning eyes, sore throat, and fatigue.

The incubation period for influenza is typically three or four days following virus exposure. Although the flu usually lasts less than ten days, fatigue and a loss of appetite can last for weeks afterwards.

As with colds, flu symptoms are caused by the body’s attempt to combat the virus. And, as with colds, there is no cure, although rest and certain herbs and supplements can help alleviate symptoms and support the body’s immune system’s fight against the virus.

The elderly, people with chronic illness (such as heart or lung disease), and anyone with a weakened immune system, such as AIDS patients or recent chemotherapy patients, are most at risk of developing flu complications.

What Are the Flu’s Causes?

Flu outbreaks are frequently caused by mutating strains of three different types of influenza viruses. The viruses are contracted and spread in the same way that cold viruses are.

Typically, type A viruses are the most potent and are frequently responsible for epidemics. The B type viruses are less severe, while the C type viruses cause the mildest cases of the flu, which are most similar to a common cold.

Preventing the Flu

The flu vaccine is an option for those who are most at risk of complications. Zanamivir (Relenza), a nasal spray, and oseltamivir (Tamiflu), an oral tablet, are both antiviral medications that may be prescribed, but they must be taken early in the course of the illness to be effective.

Supplements that may aid in the alleviation of flu symptoms.

Vitamin A may be beneficial in reducing the duration of the flu. As directed for colds (see above).
Vitamin C, when taken in large doses (2,000 mg three times a day for five days), may also be beneficial.

Consider echinacea to help strengthen your immune system. However, do not take echinacea for longer than two weeks without taking a break.

Additionally, consider the homeopathic remedy Oscilloccocinum.

Acupuncture may help some people avoid contracting the flu, or may help them avoid the most severe symptoms and shorten the duration of their illness if they do contract it.

Self-care remedies for the flu that are natural.

Maintain a restful or sleeping position in bed until your temperature returns to normal.

Consuming a sufficient amount of warm fluids. Choose room-temperature water and fruit/vegetable juices, as well as vegetable, chicken, or clear beef soups.

As with colds, gargle with warm, salty water and suck zinc lozenges to soothe a sore throat.

If you have a dry, ineffective cough, use a humidifier in the room and an oil burner with eucalyptus or Olbas oil.

Finally, a broad-spectrum herbal remedy for colds and flu.

Squeeze the juice of a lemon over a medium-sized garlic clove and half a teaspoon fresh ginger. Combine in a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of honey and drink up to three cups per day.

For the majority of people, a cold or even the flu is unpleasant but quickly passes, and the upside is that you are unlikely to contract the same virus again for an extended period of time after you have had it, as your immune system has developed antibodies against it. Therefore, pamper yourself and rest; you will most likely recover quickly.