Sunday, 19 February 2012

Dealing With Coughs and Colds

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For the past two winters, I've got a cough that really bugs me. They generally result in the doctor prescribing antibiotics, but I'm not a big fan. While some coughs do warrant a pharmaceutical remedy, they don't always. What follows is a list I'm compiling to deal with the aspects of coughs and colds that are less serious. Note: I'm not a doctor and I think it's a good idea to visit one if you're concerned about your cough.

On to some tips for coughs and colds.


Drink!
Most sources say that keeping yourself hydrated does wonders for a cough. It helps to thin and loosen that nasty stuff, making it easier to expel. Also, according to Medical News Today, water is more effective at relieving a child's night-time cough than cough syrup! I'm not surprised that water is good for this; my motto when it comes to this type of illness is that you have to pee it out. Not sure how scientific it is, but drinking a good amount of water is definitely good for you.

Besides water, soup, and other drinks (warm or cold) that don't contain caffeine, alcohol, or sugar are your friend. Fruit juices that contain vitamin C may have an extra benefit as studies have shown the vitamin to help reduce cold symptoms. While near the liquid, try gargling with salt water, many sources suggest this will help soothe a sore throat.

Get Steamy!
According to The Mayo Clinic, dry conditions help cold viruses to prosper and can also dry your mucus (ew!) giving you a stuffed nose. Many sources suggest a humidifier as a solution to arid conditions in your living space. However, many also suggest, a warm shower, or other source of steam as a more temporary solution.  It will loosen the congestion, and if it's a nice bath or cup of (caffeine-free) tea, you'll feel more relaxed.

Make time for tea!
Tea has the bonus of being both steamy and hydrating. The stuff you add to it can also work wonders for your system and symptoms. My Dad always makes a honey-lemon tea for a sore throat. The lemon has vitamin C and honey is said to help soothe a sore throat. In a recent study, honey had even greater benefits; taking 4 tablespoons a day has been shown to reduce the duration of a cold by two days! Dad also makes a ginger tea for a stomach ache or nausea, but it also can act as an anti-inflammatory, give a boost to the immune system, and spice up your drink.

Get your groceries:
When a cold really bugs me, I go for a nice spicy soup. Foods like wasabi, hot peppers, and others that make your nose run help ease congestion and that's a good thing. While in your pantry, also grab the garlic. I've seen it in home-care recipes for all sorts of ailments, probably because of its claims of antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Studies have shown it to help fight and prevent the common cold, it has also been used as an expectorant, to help with coughs and for many other purposes.

Why not make a soup, or grab some fruits, veggies, and nuts since you're in the kitchen? Not only are they good for you in general, but they can be a great source of vitamin C, E, Beta-Carotene and other nutrients that help keep your body healthy. Definitely don't starve a cold; you're body needs nutrients to help fight it. Here's a great list of some helpful cold-fighters for your menu.

Photo by karimian
Get rid of it!
Try using an expectorant to help get rid of phlegm. You can buy them over the counter or make your own. Many recipes seem to contain onion, coltsfoot, horehound, licorice; many different ingredients. It may be worth doing a search for homemade expectorants including what you have on hand or visiting your pharmacist or naturopath for some advice.

Rest!
Contrary to what I said in my post about sleep, being sick is one of those times when you should get some extra rest. Rest along with plent of liquids is generally presribed for a common cold, so it seems like a good idea to sleep in, go to bed early, and take naps if your body is telling you to. Good quality sleep has also been shown to help ward off a cold- just a thought. While you're at it, you may also want to temporarily scale back on your exercise. The Mayo Clinic has some advice to help you decide how/ if to exercise when you're under the weather.

Try something else:
According to web md a mentholated salve can open passages.
My cough is also closely tied with my asthma, so lately, I've been trying a few breathing exercises for asthma and they do seem to be helping. (As the video suggests, I still use my preventer medication as prescribed, but I do find it cuts down on the use of my attack medication, which I carry anyway.)

Find out why you're coughing!
If there's an allergen that's causing the problem, you're going to want to remove it or yourself from the situation if possible. However, the cause may be as simple as a dusty room, a common cold, or as serious as pneumonia or worse. I'm not a doctor, so I'm taking my cues elsewhere and according to a text based on the work of Dr. Ole Daidsen, there are several symptoms that may come with a cough which indicate a trip to the doctor's is a good idea. These are: "
  • coughing up phlegm that is green, rusty brown, yellow, blood-stained or foul smelling
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath or wheezing
  • pain and swelling in the calf
  • recurrent night-time cough
  • whooping cough or croup
  • worsening smoker’s cough
  • sudden weight loss
  • fever and sweating
  • hoarseness of the voice with a chronic cough that doesn’t clear up spontaneously."
Web MD says that coughs caused by colds should go away in a few weeks. So if that doesn't happen it's also a good idea to see your doctor.


Hopefully, these tips will come in handy as the cold season continues. Do you have any other remedies you love or that you thought would work and didn't? Leave a comment.

Alright, I'm off to take on my day. Hope you have a good one and, if you like what you read, remember to share, subscribe, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.



Live Well, Charlotte 

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