- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
10 Tips From 1943 for Dealing With the Common Cold
Public Nuisance No. 1
Through the years, the common cold has plagued many people since ancient times.
A cold is a contagious viral illness that spreads through airborne droplets, direct contact with nasal secretions, or contact with contaminated objects.
In rummaging through my vintage magazines, I came across winter editions from 1943 to 1963 of assorted home magazines. In reading them, I found common recommendations for dealing with the common cold.
What I read was rather amusing. From seventy years ago until 2013 today, have things really changed all that much?
For starters, in 1943, it was estimated that two hundred million colds happen every year. While in 2013, it's estimated that in the United States alone, there are more than one billion cases of the common cold every year per the Center for Disease Control.
Also, the cause of the common cold was not known until the 1950s.
This is not intended as medical advice, although laughter may persist after the reading of this article.
Items to stock on kitchen shelves for a cold picnic.
Tip #1: The Picnic Treatment.
Forget everything you read about packing the wicker basket full of utensils, plates, a red and white gingham tablecloth, and a bottle of wine.
This picnic refers to isolation and bed rest for every person with the common cold.
It was reported in 1943 that millions of dollars had been spent on research. Yet there was no definite or guaranteed method of prevention. But there are a lot of things one can do to make colds shorter and less severe.
Tips for setting up your kitchen for cold picnics:
- Stock your shelves with paper goods. As many bright and varied as the dime store can furnish. (Today the Dollar Tree or Walmart.)
- Burn all paper utensils and plates after use. Likewise, burn all games and magazines. One can never be too careful. All of these items are germ-laden after being handled by a cold sufferer.
- Or better yet, add a newspaper to the cold picnic for use just by the one suffering with the cold. A real treat! No competition for the page of all-important funnies!
Tip #2. Liquids.
Liquids are so important to one suffering with a cold.
Along with best rest, at the first sign of a cold, have plenty of water, fruit juices, light and simple foods on hand, as well as vitamins.
Don't eat too much sugar or starchy foods.
If you think you need a laxative, take one!
By 1963, Reader's Digest figured out that prune juice is certainly a less harsher alternative.
Tip #3. Medicines.
A hot footbath and a hot drink such as lemonade are good for you provided you can get right in bed and cover up!
Take your doctor's advice about medicines. He will probably tell you that certain gargles and steam inhalations will relieve discomfort.
And don't forget one very unpleasant side effect! Every sneeze means thousands of droplets traveling at about two miles a minute, some even stay alive for as long as two days!
So, make sure you sneeze into a disposable tissue. Or, use a handkerchief that can be boiled before being touched by others!
Tip #4. Exercise.
Best of all, build up your general health and resistance. First, start prevention of the common cold in the summer by judicious exposure to sun and cool water baths!
Get rid of diseased tonsils and adenoids.
Tip #5. Diet.
Include in your winter diet plenty of milk, eggs, cod liver oil, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eat less sugary and starchy foods.
Don't forget to take your vitamins in capsule forms. Without revising many eating and cooking habits, it's hard to get enough vitamins.
Tip #6. Keep warm.
Be sure that your boy or girl is clothed properly.
Make sure your boy or girl stays warm and dry during rowdy snowball fights.
By all means, avoid over-fatigue by getting plenty of rest and sleep, regularly.
Especially if you live in a cold climate, see to it that your home temperature setting is around 70 degrees and has enough humidity. Open windows for a good airing at least once every day.
Ways to prevent spreading germs.
Avoid talking forcibly.
Tip #7. Think of the other girl first.
That's a camp motto. When you have a cold, take such precautions as cleaning the telephone antiseptically after you've used it. Don't talk forcibly in to the phone to avoid spreading your germs.
Tip #8. Create laws.
- There ought to be a law! Let's do all we can to help protect American babies before sickness strikes.
- Motion seconded. Keep all nurseries and all other rooms hygienically clean.
- Right you are! Add Lysol to all cleaning water.
- Mothers prepare for emergencies by checking all sick room needs now, not forgetting Lysol.
- And shop at the neighborhood druggist sick room needs sale.
A healthy baby is a happy baby. Lysol Disinfectant Ad, 1942
Only for a limited time!
You can tenderize meat and crack ice all at the same time!
Tip #9. Drink Lipton Tea.
In fact, Lipton mail orderers received a cleaverette as a special promotion.
The cleaverette is designed to ease many of the tedious tasks in food preparation. It safely does the work of a knife with efficiency.
The cleaverette trims meats like a breeze, without worry of cutting your fingers.
It's marvelous for dicing vegetables, cubing steaks, disjointing fowl, cutting squash, turnips, and even has a crimped end for tenderizing meats.
Tip #10. Aspirin.
In just two seconds, Bayer Aspirin is ready to go to work.
To see how fast it works, just drop Bayer Aspirin tablets in a glass of water. Time its disintegrating speed. What happens in the glass, happens in your stomach!
It's so wonderfully gentle to the system, mothers give it to small children on doctors' advice.
When you are in pain and want fast, dependable relief, don't experiment with drugs that do not stand the test of time.
Also in children's sizes. They are neither flavored or coloured so they cannot be mistaken for candy.
(Important Note: While this Hub is based on information that is not current, and really just for fun, please take this advice seriously. From the Mayo Clinic: Reye's syndrome is a rare but serious condition that causes swelling in the liver and brain. Reye's syndrome most often affects children and teenagers recovering from a viral infection and who may also have a metabolic disorder. Aspirin has been linked with Reye's syndrome. No one under 17 should be given aspirin for flu or cold symptoms.) Thank you to fellow Hubber, Ellebee for bringing that to my attention.
What's different from then to now?
Many of the precautions for treating a common cold sufferer stayed the same as seventy years ago.
1. The picnic treatment. Disposable utensils and paper goods for eating were recommended in 1943. In 2013, to be more environmentally friendly, it is suggested that greenhouse gasses from manufacturing porcelain plates have already been emitted, and to use paper plates would require further emissions. Burning garbage may not be allowed by law in 2013, whereas seventy years ago, it may have been common for folks to burn their garbage in their wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. Also, newspapers aren't as commonly distributed today as they once were. Therefore, most people would likely be reading the newspaper through electronic media. If that's the case, remember to disinfect electronics, especially ones used in a shared public space such as your office.
2. Liquids. In 1943, it was commonly recommended to drink plenty of water and fruit juices. While today it's recommended, if you choose to drink fruit juice, choose 100 percent fruit juice instead of sweetened juice or fruit-juice cocktails. Laxatives were commonly prescribed to give immediate relief of symptoms and help the immune system response to the cold. While today laxatives are commonly disregarded for treatments of colds because they remove water and electrolytes.
3. Medicines. It still is recommended today to take steam baths during colds. And lemon juice is reported to decrease the strength of the cold. Both treatments reduce phlegm.
4. Exercise. Today, we can't stress enough about the health benefits of exercise. Even more frightening, is the suggestion to get rid of tonsils (which was common for all children)! While now, we have antibiotics which prevent the necessity of removing tonsils. But it is still a solution in the case of a child with re-occurring strep throat.
5. Diet. While most of the information about diet is still true such as eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, drink milk in moderation. Milk makes phlegm thicker, which in turn becomes more irritating to your already raw throat. However, frozen dairy products can soothe a sore throat and provide calories when you otherwise may not eat.
6. Keep warm. It was once thought that by being cold, you could give yourself a cold. While we know that isn't true, that the common cold is transferred through 200 different types of viruses, it is commonly recommended to keep your thermostat set to around 68 degrees for comfort.
7. Think of the other girl first. This one still holds true today in the form of hand sanitizer. While telephones have definitely changed from a rotary dial with an ear set attached to a short cord, it is still good ethics to cleanse areas with disinfectants regularly. Especially in office settings or your home environment to keep from spreading the viral germs.
8. Create Laws. While this one was really meant for entertainment per the Lysol ad, the Center for Disease Control recommends practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding close contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory infections. If you have visited a medical facility recently, you may have noticed the signs about wearing a mask to cover a cough. This is all within recent years, as well as hand sanitizer stations. Also, hand washing practices have become regular job-safety requirements at places such as restaurants.
9. Drink Lipton Tea. Many tea drinkers still enjoy a nice cup of hot tea anytime, especially during a cold. However, the difference is safe food handling practices are now employed. Never chop your ice with a meat clever you used to tenderize your beef. (Or at least not before properly sanitizing it.)
10. Aspirin. While there is no cure for the common cold, the symptoms can be treated. It usually resolves on its own within 10 days for most sufferers. It is strongly advised now that you make sure you're getting the cold medicine you need and not the medicines you don't.
Some things never change!
I finally put my hoard of vintage magazines to good use. Reading up on all those articles from a time long ago really gave me insight in to why my grandparents always told me to never go out with wet hair, or don't go outside barefoot.
One thing has certainly not changed. We have still yet to find a cure.