Colds & Flu

Symptoms   Causes   Quick tips   Prevention   Self help discussion

Colds and flu are a greater risk when we are tired, have a poor diet, have weak immune systems, etc. By paying attention to a few healthy actions we can lessen the likelihood of getting sick this season.

Self Help

Fighting colds and flu (see more detail)
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes and nose
  • Supplement with at least vitamin D3.
  • Wipe down equipment you use at the gym.
  • Stay clean at the hospital.
  • Don't share.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Manage your stress levels.
  • Do aerobic exercise regularly.
  • If you have to take an antibiotic.

The term "common cold" refers to an acute upper respiratory infection which can be caused by one of over 200 known viruses. The most common of these are the groups known as "rhinoviruses" and "coronaviruses," which together account for about half of all adult colds and do not generally result in serious illness, while the rest are caused by an assortment of other viruses, including adenoviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, orthomyxoviruses (including influenza A and B viruses, which cause flu), paramyxoviruses (including several parainfluenza viruses), respiratory syncytial virus, and enteroviruses, some of which can and do cause more serious illness.

Apparently we mostly get colds through directly touching things that have cold viruses on them - door handles, towels, hands - when you go to the grocers, the doctor's office, the movie theater, the gym; when you shake hands, dress your sick child, etc.

In fact some research has suggested that being in the same confined room with someone who is sneezing with a common cold does not necessary cause you to get a cold. You have to touch their contaminated hand/skin and then touch your own nose, eyes or mouth.

Symptoms

Colds and flu Symptoms of a cold are usually nasal, and include runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion. There may also be some other symptoms such as sore throat, cough or headache, but the symptoms of a cold are mainly confined to the nose/head. If there are many more or severe other symptoms, the illness may not be a cold, but flu or some other type of infection.

A cold is most contagious in the first 2-3 days, lessening each day until after a week to 10 days there is little chance of contagion. Once a cold is contracted or "caught" it can be 12 hours to several days before symptoms begin to show up. The cold virus enters the body through the mouth, eyes or nose.

Causes

Colds viruses are transmitted by one of two means:

  • Indirect contact: Hand to hand, or hand to mouth contact from touching the secretions directly, or touching a person or object that has come in contact with the infected secretions. The virus can then be transmitted to the mouth or nose, or to the eye from where it travels to the nose via the tear duct. Indirect contact appears to be the most important cause.
  • Direct contact: A person inhales or breathes in the virus from droplets or vapor in the air when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes, or droplets enter the eye from the air.

Prevention

  • Most important, stay well rested during flu season
  • Wash your hands before/after you go somewhere. Wash your hands regularly. The flu virus can live for up to 72 hours on surfaces. Wash briskly with soap and water for 30 seconds. This is actually one of the simplest yet most effective ways to avoid colds and germs.
  • Don't touch your mouth, eyes or nose without first washing your hands

Conventional Treatment

Drink lots of liquids and stay in bed. See your doctor if you also have a fever, or if your lungs get involved.

Self Help

  • Fight the flu with supplementing with at least vitamin D3 1,500 to 2,000 I.U. per day. Relatively few foods naturally contain vitamin D, the most abundant being oily fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, or old-fashioned, cod liver oil. Because of limited natural sources, numerous foods, such as milk, are vitamin-D fortified. For most people of fair skin, 10 or 15 minutes in noontime summer sun can lead to the production of 10,000 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D.
  • Wipe down equipment you use at the gym. Most gyms have towels and disinfectants by the exercise machines. If you gym does not, make a complaint to the management. Drape a clean towel over shared yoga mats and sauna and locker room benches
  • Stay clean at the hospital. If you're visiting a hospital, wash yourself and your clothes right after. Don't use bar soap in any hospital bathroom or set your purse on the floor. And researchers recently found that one in three stethoscopes used by emergency-medical-service providers was contaminated with MRSA (a germ highly resistant to antibiotics).
  • Don't share. You're at increased risk of colds if you share razors, soap, towels, or other personal items.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep causes excess stress on our bodies, and compromises the immune system.
  • Drink plenty of water. Water flushes out your system and keeps you healthy. If you have a cold, drink plenty of water because it keeps your body hydrated and helps reduce the symptoms. Try to drink 6-8 glasses of filtered water a day. Note: RO water does not have minerals in it and you should add a few drops of a liquid mineral solution to your RO water.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Keep your sugar and refined carbohydrates foods to a minimum as these can lead to a depressed immune system. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables which are full of great antioxidants for maintaining health, and add whole grains to your diet such as brown rice and sprouted breads.
  • Manage your stress levels. Numerous studies have shown that chronic stress can compromise the immune system. Try taking at least 20 minutes out everyday either to take a nice stroll in the woods, do yoga, meditate or do some regular relaxation technique that works for you.
  • Do aerobic exercise regularly. In a research study originally appearing in the November 2006 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, women who did aerobic exercise, usually brisk walking for 30 minutes every day, had one half the colds of a non-aerobic placebo group.
  • If you have to take an antibiotic, make sure to take a probiotic at the same time to build up the healthy bacteria in your gut. Antibiotics kill both "bad" and "good" bacteria in the gut.

Studies

Rest and prevention are most important. There is inconclusive evidence regarding successful treatment with Zinc, Vitamin C, Echinacea (apparently more successful in use by adults than children) and other natural treatments. Garlic is a possible preventative treatment due to its antibacterial qualities. These remedies help some people but not others.

Colds & Flu News

Symptoms   Causes   Quick tips   Prevention   Self help discussion