Cold and Flu Recommendations and Considerations

Cold and Flu Recommendations

❑ Eat plenty of raw vegetables, as well as yogurt and other soured products.

❑ If cold sore outbreaks occur often, check for low thyroid function.

Cold and Flu Considerations

❑ Since there is no cure for the common cold, the best approach is prevention. Once a cold has a firm grip on you, it is hard to stop it.

❑ Bovine colostrum, taken in the cold and flu season, may help to ward off infection.

❑ There are many over-the-counter cold medications available. None of them can actually cure a cold, although they can be helpful for alleviating symptoms.

❑ It is unlikely that a vaccine will ever be developed to prevent the common cold because the viruses responsible have the ability to change in size and shape, and have hundreds of different forms. However, research being conducted in Britain may provide hope for cold sufferers. An experimental drug, tremacamra, appears to block cold viruses from finding a docking site in the nasal passages. So far, the drug’s success rate has been impressive, cutting the risk of infection by 34 percent and symptoms by 45 percent. There have been no new developments with this drug since 1999 when the study was published.

❑ The possibility for real cold relief may lie in substances such as interferon, natural proteins that the body produces in response to viral infection. Interferons seem to improve the respiratory tract’s ability to ward off viruses. Vitamin C promotes interferon production.

❑ Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections, but many people still ask their doctors to prescribe them. It is important to understand that penicillin and most other antibiotics work only against bacterial infections—such as strep throat—not viral infections. Viruses and bacteria may produce similar symptoms, but they are very different kinds of microbes and do not respond to the same treatment. In fact, because antibiotics kill off “good” bacteria together with the bad, antibiotics actually inhibit the body’s efforts to defend itself against viral invasion.

❑ You can, in a sense, catch a cold from yourself. When your immune system weakens from factors such as stress and/or a poor diet, viruses can take hold. These viruses are opportunistic and lie dormant in the body, taking hold when the immune system is at its weakest. Stress is often a factor.

❑ One study of young adults deliberately infected with a cold virus revealed that those given the drug naproxen or ibuprofen, which are commonly prescribed for arthritis, suffered fewer cold symptoms, such as sneezing, than those given a placebo. Coughing was not affected.

❑ Medical researchers at Dartmouth College gave a group of thirty-five cold sufferers zinc lozenges, and told these individuals to take a lozenge as often as every two hours. Another thirty-five cold sufferers were given placebos. The zinc takers’ colds subsided in an average of four days, while the control group struggled with their colds for another nine days.

❑ Under experimental conditions, polysaccharides found in the herb echinacea have been shown to enhance the immune response.
Caution: Do not take echinacea for longer than three months. It should not be used by people who are allergic to ragweed.

❑ Allergies can cause symptoms that mimic those of colds and flu. Allergy testing is recommended.

❑ Anyone who has frequent colds or bouts with the flu should be checked for thyroid malfunction. When you are well, perform the thyroid function self-test. If your temperature is low, consult your health care provider.

❑ Congestion, cough, and/or sore throat are signs of a cold, but if these symptoms occur together with fever or fatigue, you may have the flu. If congestion develops in the chest, it is best to consult a physician, as chest (lung) infections can be serious. Also contact your health care provider if your fever goes above 102°F for more than three days, if yellow or white spots appear in the throat, if the lymph nodes under the jaw and in the neck become enlarged, and/or if chills and shortness of breath occur.

❑ The drug acyclovir (Zovirax), in capsule, liquid, or ointment form, is sometimes prescribed for cold sores.

❑ In studies, penciclovir. (Denavir) cream has been shown to reduce the duration of the infection by one day, on average.

❑ An over-the-counter drug called docosanol (Abreva) has been approved by the FDA to reduce healing time and duration of symptoms of cold sores. The medication contains 10 percent docosanol, an antiviral agent. This is a topical medication that is rubbed into the sore five times a day for adults and children over age twelve. Children younger than twelve should use this medication under a doctor’s supervision.

❑ Relaxation and visualization techniques (imagining the virus being destroyed by healing white blood cells, for example) may reduce the seriousness of cold sore outbreaks.

❑ If you are prone to allergies, you most likely have a malfunctioning immune system and may be susceptible to cold sores.

❑ Avoid touching others with the affected area until the sore is completely healed; the virus can be transmitted to others quite easily.

❑ Take vitamin C and zinc lozenges at the first sign of a sore throat or stuffiness in the head or nose. This can shorten the duration of a cold, and may even stop it altogether. Take the lozenges every three hours for the first day of cold symptoms.

❑ Sip hot liquids such as turkey or chicken broth. Drink Potato Peeling Broth twice a day—make it fresh daily. You can add a carrot, a stalk of celery, garlic, and/or onions to your drink. Chicken soup is very effective in relieving the worst of the symptoms and in shortening the duration of a cold.

❑ Remain as active as possible. Not only is staying in bed for ordinary sniffles unnecessary, but it will probably make you feel worse. Moving around helps to loosen built-up mucus and fluids. Unless you have a fever, a brisk walk or any other type of moderate exercise should make you feel better.

❑ A study done between 1999 and 2000 in Florida has shown that taking antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, fructooligosaccharides, and protein can significantly reduce the chance of getting an upper respiratory tract infection. This is particularly important for older adults due to the reduced efficiency of their immune systems. It has also proven to be useful in increasing the effectiveness of flu vaccines.

❑ Consider using homeopathic remedies for cold symptoms. Calcarea carbonica is excellent for sore throats, colds, or bronchitis. Anas barbariae (also available as Oscillococcinum from Boiron) and Ferrum phosphoricum (if there is a fever) are also good for treating the common cold.

❑ Flush facial tissues after they have been used. Because they harbor the virus, tissues can pass on the virus or cause you to reinfect yourself.

❑ Wash your hands often. Cold viruses can survive for several hours on hands, tissues, or hard surfaces. A healthy person can contract the virus by touching a contaminated surface, then touching his or her own mouth or nose. Using an antibiotic soap may prevent you from reinfecting yourself. But these soaps can also contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So it is best to use them only when necessary.

❑ Try not to spread the cold to your family or colleagues. Refrain from close contact with loved ones. Even shaking hands is out; hand contact can spread the virus.

❑ Do not give aspirin, or any product containing aspirin, to a child with symptoms of any viral infection, including a cold. Taking large doses of aspirin also depletes the body of vitamin C.