Naturally Healthy 4 Life's Blog

A blog about health, nutrition, fitness and wellness

Achoo! Still no cure for the common cold, but….

I am one of the many that is battling a head cold this season.  Grrrr.

While usually not debilitating, colds are a nuisance.  You cannot breathe, you are constantly sneezing and blowing your nose.  Your eyes are watery and your throat is sore.  It keeps you up at night and leaves you looking pretty awful – bags under the eyes, big red nose.  Yes, that is me right now.

We all know there is no cure for the common cold.  Obviously, the goal is to try to avoid getting one in the first place.  But if we DO get a cold, what can we do to treat it and get rid of it quickly?

Why me???

The common cold is a virus.  The virus is most infectious in its first three days.  It is spread by people’s hands, and carried to their eyes, noses and mouths, where the virus settles in for its 7-10 day run.  Ugh.  Despite what Grandma told you, you can NOT catch a cold (or any virus) by being wet or cold.  We are more prone to colds in the winter because we spend more time indoors, we are in closer proximity to others, and the low humidity in the winter increases viral transmission rates, allowing the viral droplets to disperse further and stay in the air longer.

Prevention

The smartest way to treat a cold is to not get it in the first place.

  • Keep your immune system healthy!  Exercise and eat healthfully on a regular basis.  Get enough rest and fluids.  Control stress levels, as stress has a huge affect on your immune system function.
  • Wash your hands well and frequently.  Always use soap and warm/hot water, and suds up for at least 20 seconds (try singing “Happy Birthday” – to yourself, of course, rather than out loud – people may think you are a bit nutty if singing out loud).
  • Use antibacterial gels.  You can easily find great little containers and sprays at the drugstore that you can keep in your purse.  Look for gels that contain moisturizers like aloe vera and vitamin E, as these gels can be very drying to your hands.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth (this is a good tip for your skin, as well – touching your face can make acne worse).
  • Stay away from those that are sick.  Since the virus is more of a nuisance than a sickness, and lasts for several days, most people do not quarantine themselves while the virus runs its course.  You will find people sniffling, sneezing and coughing all around you.  Keep your distance.
  • Stay away from others if YOU are sick.  If you are the one that has the cold, PULLEASE wash or use antibacterial gel on your hands after blowing your nose, always cough into your elbow, NOT your hand, and keep your distance from others.

Treatment

Viruses can NOT and should not be treated with antibiotics.  Antibiotics have no effect on viruses.  A virus just needs to run its course.  So here are some ways to make the symptoms less obnoxious, help you more easily rest and hopefully, make the virus leave more quickly.

  • Drink as much water as possible.
  • Take an antihistamine (for runny, itchy nose and eyes, sneezing).
  • Take a decongestant (for nasal and/or chest congestion).
  • Drink hot tea with lemon and honey (very soothing on your throat, sinuses).
  • Take a hot bath (the steam will clear your head).
  • Irrigate your sinuses with a netti pot (it is uncomfortable at first, but really clears your sinuses).
  • Use a humidifier/vaporizer, especially at night (dry air makes you more stuffed up, making sleep more difficult).

Several talked about remedies/treatments are unproven and studies have shown they have little effect, such as Vitamin C (in fact, juice contains a lot of sugar, which is not helpful to your immune system), zinc, echinacea, and nasal sprays (which are actually very irritating to your sinuses).

Obviously, if symptoms worsen or do not improve in a week, then you should see your doctor.

I hope your New Year is a healthy, virus free one!

Angela, Sniffling Soul 😦

References:

  1. “Common Cold,” Wikipedia.org

December 30, 2011 Posted by | Fitness, Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s the holiday season…

Happy holidays!  This time of year is filled with holiday parties, eating out, cooking and baking holiday foods.   If you are anything like me, it seems that everywhere you look is another tempting treat – candy, cookies, bread, cocktails.  And for many of us, it is a busy (and cold) time of year, so we are not working out like we did a few months ago.

Here are my top tips for navigating healthfully through the season.

Food

Obviously, avoid the high calorie items like cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter and whipped cream.  But if you simply cannot resist, try to limit how much you eat and use some of the following “tricks.”

  • Eat something healthy and filling before you leave the house. You will be less interested in the decadent foods or you will eat less of them.
  • Nothing good to eat at home?  Load up on the crudités (raw vegetables) first.  Raw vegetables have high water content and are high in fiber, so they will make you feel fuller longer.
  • Use a small plate, take your time and do not go back for a second helping.  Using a small plate is tricks your brain – it sees a full plate (even if it’s small) and you will likely eat less.
  • Be a food snob.   Do not sample everything – rather, choose those foods that are not always available to you and savor them.  Skip foods that you can eat any other day of the year.

Cocktails

It goes without saying that you should always drink responsibly, including a designated driver, if necessary.  In addition to lowering your inhibitions, alcohol lowers your cortisol (the “stress hormone”) levels.  We need a sufficient release of cortisol to make us feel hungry, so when it drops, we feel hungry and we eat more than we should.

  • Avoid specialty drinks that are made with syrups and/or liqueurs (which are often made with cream and added sugar).  These cocktails go down easily and are  unbelievably high in calories.
  • Dilute the alcohol.  Mix hard liquor with a low-sugar mixer or drink wine spritzers.  (Using soda pop as a mixer is a bad idea – very high in calories and loaded with corn syrup and additives.  And don’t be fooled by “sugar free” – artificial sweeteners actually increase your appetite.)
  • And if you decide to imbibe, always make sure you are drinking plenty of water so you don’t get dehydrated.  Alternate each alcoholic drink with at least one full glass of water.

Find time for some exercise

In addition to helping maintain your weight, exercise will help you cope with the stress you may feel during the season.  If your workout schedule is kaput during the holidays, be creative.

  • While you are running all of your errands, walk as much as possible.  Use the stairs, walk extra laps in the mall, take the dog for walks, etc.
  • Shovel the snow (instead of plowing it).
  • If you are traveling over the holidays, note that most hotels now have fitness centers.  You can also pack fitness equipment in your suitcase – resistance bands, a workout DVD (if you have a laptop that plays DVD), running shoes, yoga clothes, etc.

Enjoy the season.  See you next year!

Angela, Party Grrrl 🙂

  1. “Alcohol Can Impact Your Appetite,” MedIndia, August 27, 2009 (www.medindia.net)
  2. “Alcohol Metabolism,” Dr. Dan Rutherford (www.netdoctor.com)
  3. “Calories in Popular Alcoholic Drinks & Alcohol Calories Chart” (www.fatburn-secrets.com)

December 11, 2011 Posted by | Fitness, Health, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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