HealthyHacks: 10 of My Own, Personal Cold Remedies

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First, I want to point out something important: I’m neither old, nor married. So, the following tips and tricks from my toolbox of sickness management should possibly be called ‘young bachelorette’s recipes’. I’m just saying.

Now, for the gloating: I get a cold once or twice a year and its worst symptoms last a day or two, with some generally annoying symptoms for 36 hours before and after the worst part. When I get the garden-variety flu, by the time that I’ve finally registered that it’s not the common cold, it’s moving out of my system. But. I’m quite susceptible to infections, so what I lack in viruses, I make up for in bacterium. And, even as recently as two years ago, I would get a cold or the flu (or both) every six to ten weeks – nearly as frequently as my then-two-year old daughter did.

I’m not an immunological goddess and neither is my daughter, a four-year old preschooler who has had less than five days of sickness in all of 2010, but we do get off pretty lucky. Want know what I do differently?

  • Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup. With lots of black pepper and cayenne. Not the Cup-A-Noodles kind, but the ‘makes a big pot of neon yellow broth’ kind. Make it as spicy as you can stand it. Sweat while slurping. Drink orange juice, and water between bowls, or tea for sore throats (and caffeine).
  • Don’t take pain relievers to reduce a fever unless the fever is of concern. Fever? Is what you can consider your body trying to burn off invading sickness. It’s not bad for you, unless it’s very high for prolonged periods.
  • Tea with brown sugar, warm, almost cold, is my preference over hot honey-sweetened tea. Maybe that’s just a personal thing, but it goes down better, to me.
  • A hot bath with 3-4 mint tea bags floating around can be a good pain reliever, sweat-inducer and relaxation-aide, before bedtime. I like to add a little oatmeal in, too.
  • When I used to drink, I swore by an evening of Screwdrivers upon the first sign of a sore throat. Maybe I just wanted vodka and orange juice, but it seemed to work like a charm. Now that I’ve given up, I…
  • Hit the pharmacy, where I pick up lozenges with Zinc, Vitamin C and Echinacea in them. I only take a couple a day because the aim is not to flood my body with the minerals, so much as to allow them to supplement my natural immunity.
  • For my daughter, I plug a vaporizer into her bedroom’s outlet, so the eucalyptus can help to keep her stuffy-free and she can get a good night’s rest.
  • I also elevate her upper body at bedtime, by putting an extra pillow under her mattress.
  • For the two of us, the first concrete cold symptoms (like achiness, coughing or runny noses) get a mega-dose of the minty bath treatment follow-up directly with the ‘minty feet treatment’: Massage a menthol salve (like Vicks’ Vaporub) all over and into the bottom of the patient’s feet (getting it really warmed up so that the vapours release) and then cover them with socks overnight. I’m sure its success is based in reflexology, or something scientific I know nothing about, but It Works.
  • I try to avoid taking pain relievers and decongestants. I know they work wonderfully on some symptoms – and there’s stuff to do in the morning, or afternoon, or evening, so I want to feel better – but it can become easy to rely on their seemingly curative magic and I have faith that, for the most part, my body knows what it’s doing.

When my daughter and I get sick, I follow some basic principals: medication is generally meant to treat symptoms, not cure them, and those symptoms exist for a reason; pain is how our bodies talk to us when we’re sick, and we should listen to it; rest is important, but not above all else. Also? Don’t get your surrounding circle sick, lest it potentially jump back into your home, mutated into a new, related virus. Do you have any of your own cold-and-flu habits hidden up your sleeve? Share them with the rest of the group in the comments!

One last point: if your family doesn’t vaccinate, avoiding areas known to contain the more severe illness can be quite important. For example, if there is a measles outbreak in your city, consider avoiding downtown and possibly taking your kids out of school until it passes. There’s a difference between accepting natural immunological function (or having faith) and knowingly putting your children at risk. Just like most parents generally wouldn’t let their baby play with the kiddo who has chicken pox, consider the same for your non-vaccinated older children.

Become educated about how to treat symptoms of common illnesses that other children are vaccinated against, and when to seek medical help, just in case your child does get sick.

I humbly request that if you don’t vaccinate, you disclose this fully with all medical, educational and child care staff that your family comes into contact with, in addition to close friends and family. And just so you know, I’m not pointing any blaming fingers in the direction of non-vaccinating parents with this text – I am a non-vaccinating parent who makes effort to keep our risks as low as possible, and to be completely transparent about our non-vaccinated statuses.

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