It’s that time of year where we are all indoors more often and as a natural side-effect, we pass more viruses amongst ourselves. The common cold (most often caused by the rhinovirus) includes sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, body aches, and possibly a low-grade fever . The best case scenario is avoiding the viruses in the first place. Proper handwashing with regular soap and water is important, especially after being in public places. Hydration is also a key component in keeping inner defenses up. Sometime, however, despite our best efforts we still will become infected. It is one of the most common reasons to miss work or school, yet, the treatment of common cold is mostly supportive. Here are some options for dealing with the most common symptoms.
Excess mucus production is the classic sign of the common cold. This is actually the body’s natural response to the viral attack as it is a way to trap and carry it out of the body. While beneficial to the healing process, there are times where we’d like to be more comfortable and inhibit the production (like trying to get a good nights sleep).
- Take a traditional antihistamine such as diphenhydramine or newer loratadine . Caution however these may cause drowsiness or dizziness.
- Try tenting with essential oils. Bring a pot of water to boil and pour in a glass or metal bowl Sit with the bowl under your nose and a towel over your head to capture the steam. Some great essential oils to add to the water include Ravem, RC, or eucalyptus. Breathe deeply for 10-15 minutes
- Start running a humidifier – the moisture will help thin the mucus and allow it to drain more efficiently
Highly uncomfortable, this is usually directly correlated to post-nasal drip and the increase of mucus. While you can certainly take traditional pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or cough medicines (suggest taking only at night), they are not your only options.
- Use a saline nasal spray or make your own (1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of baking soda, 240ml (8oz) of distilled water mixed in a clean bottle with dropper)
- Gargle with salt water (1 tsp of salt in 8oz of water) as often as feels good. I like to do it with warm water
- Honey and lemon (or lemon essential oil) in weak tea is also a great option
In general, the common cold should only last 7-10 days Should symptoms persist longer than this time period or fevers become elevated higher than 102 for longer than 24 hours, a physician should be contact. Also contact your physician or pharmacist if you are taking prescriptions medications and are unsure if over-the-counter medications or herbal products will interact.