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Everything You Need To Know About The Common Cold
It is a proud tradition in our culture to acquire a cold or two (or three, for the gluttons) every winter. Where this tradition came from and why it has been so strictly adhered to for so very long is anyone's guess. Whether it be respect for our forefathers of yore or simply our ability to enjoy the simple pleasures in life such as a good runny nose, sniffles, sore throat, and the occasional haughty cough; its clear that many of us will sacrifice much, but we will never relinquish the guilty pleasure of the common cold. Year after year, we deny funding to the cold virus researchers and thwart every diabolical remedy that comes our way. It's not unusual to see picketers outside the medical research facility throughout the season with signs that read things like: “It's winter, We are SUPPOSED to have colds!” and “God made virus's for a REASON!” and “Death to America!”.
Despite all this, there is still much false information, disinformation, and just downright silliness surrounding the subject. So we've put together this handy little article so that you have the most pertinent information at your mucosey fingertips. And if new information is uncovered, well, we will fight its assimilation with every sick fiber in our bodies.
First and foremost, the cold does not cause colds. This is one of those myths that we have all learned a hundred times but we really just don't want to believe. You can run barefoot on freezing cobbled stone as much as your crooked little heart desires and not get a cold. You can go get the mail without a coat and all you're get is cold, not a cold. You might get a little nagging from a wife or mother, but that's their job and god bless them. Despite this fact, it is nice to think we could beat a virus with a simple pair of Chinese mittens... and there is something to say for faith.
Number two would have to be that people pick up relatively few colds from their co-workers. An office may have many people nursing colds, but chances are slim that they have the same virus strain. That's one of the most beautiful things about the cold virus: the sheer diversity of strains.
The majority of colds are caught at home. And the main carriers are children because children are filthy narcissistic creatures. They think its funny when they give you a cold. It's like lodging with little hippie sadists, it really is. And where do these children get their hands on all these fun diseases? Why in the prestigious halls of our educational facilities mostly, where learning and morbidity go hand in hand. If a child is dirty than a whole withering nest of children is going to be obscenely germ-riddled. Then they come home and give you a big hug and kiss and an incurable illness. Oh, but look how little their shoes are!
The cold virus grow in the nose and eyes, not the mouth. When infected people wipe or blow there noses some virus gets on their hands. Also there's all that sneezing and coughing which is the bodies way of saying, “get out of me!” (which my wife also says every Tuesday night.). Its just too bad that getting it out of you sometimes means getting it on someone else (which I have tried to explain to my wife). Outside the body, a virus can survive as long as a day. Shaking hands with someone and then rubbing your eyes is worse than getting sneezed on. Which is why whenever I sneeze on someone I always say, “Hey, at least I didn't shake your hand, Mr. Grumpy.”
We all know that colds are quite contagious, but when is it most contagious? The first two or three days is the time when real vigilance is needed. In the first two or three days the virus is at full force and multiplying like crazy because viruses tend to be ambitious, not like your Uncle Randy. It's by far the most dangerous time for infecting others.
There's only so much you can do to prevent yourself from catching a cold. Its the usual stuff: wash hands a lot (at least 25 seconds of soaping), don't touch your nose or eyes if you can help it, pray. As far as disinfecting sprays and the like are concerned, their value is unproven. Theoretically they must help but they can also do harm if used excessively. If everything you touch is germ-free then your immune system will let down its guard. Then when you do get sick, it will be much, much worse. Moderation in all things!
Aspirin may help your headache or fever, but it will make your cold worse because it actually weakens your body's defenses. Interferon, a protein produced by the body to fight off the virus, works less effectively when the fever is brought down.
As for antihistamines, they help with allergies but they prolong a cold. Especially discontinue antihistamines if the cold moves to the chest. They help relieve upper respiratory conditions, but they do not relieve lower respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis, they aggravate them. By reducing mucus production, antihistamines make bronchial secretions stickier. This stops up the bronchial tubes more and makes it harder to clear them with coughing.
Wine is actually an excellent remedy. It acts as a short-term antibiotic, particularly after the first signs of a cold. The best way to take it is to pour a bottle of red wine into a double-boiler and heat it to 140 degrees. Add a slice of lemon or orange peel and a tablespoon of cinnamon. Simmer for three minutes. Drink one glassful twice a day for three days. And take off your top.
The most effective remedy isn't found at the pharmacy or the herbal remedy store. Studies show that altruism is one of the most effective cures for the common cold ever studied. Chicken soup is good, but the love with which it is administered is even better. The more selfless kindness a person performed seemed to directly affect his or her recovery time. Even watching a movie in which benevolence and altruism featured prominently seemed to have positive affects. So if you don't want to be sick, stop being such a jerk.