Colds and flu are caused by viral infections (more than 200 of them) and are highly contagious. Coughing and sneezing in a confined space can easily spread an infection, since the mucus in the nose and throat of cold sufferers is full of viruses.
Colds: How You Catch a Cold
The food you eat is one of the best lines of defense against catching a cold. A balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will strengthen your immune system and help you to stay free of colds.
Once caught, there is still no effective cure for the misery of the common cold. The old adage that ‘a cold lasts for seven days if you treat it and a week if you leave it alone’ may still be true. However, in its 40-years search for a cure, the British Common Cold Research Unit discovered that zinc may help to shorten the duration of a cold. Zinc is now included in some over-the-counter remedies, but not all forms of the mineral seem to work. Several trials of zinc supplements have been ineffective. Good dietary source of available zinc include liver (not to be eaten in pregnancy), red meat, eggs and, best of all, oysters.
The Research Unit also pinpointed stress as another factor involved in people’s susceptibility to colds.
Colds and Vitamin C
In 1970, US biochemist and Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling wrote a revolutionary book called Vitamin C and the Common Cold, in which he claimed that large doses of this vitamin could decrease the severity and symptoms of a cold. While there is no clinical evidence to support Pauling’s claim’ many people tried the vitamin remedy and found it to be effective. It can certainly do no harm to take moderate doses of a vitamin C supplement over a short period if you want to try this ‘cure’. At the first sign of a cold, take two to three grams of vitamin C, or the equivalent as tablets, each day, for up to seven days. However, it is important to seven days. However, it is important to note that very large doses of vitamin C (more than four grams per day) should not be taken over longer period because of the likelihood of causing kidney stones. Other side effect could include headaches. Sleep disturbances, and stomach upsets. Furthermore, pregnant women should not take megadoses of vitamin C or indeed any other vitamin because of potential harm to the unborn child.
How You Catch a Cold
Colds and flu are caused by viral infections (more than 200 of them) and are highly contagious. Coughing and sneezing in a confined space can easily spread an infection, since the mucus in the nose and throat of cold sufferers is full of viruses. These viruses can survive for several hours on objects such as doorknobs and telephones, so it is a good idea to wash your hands frequently if people around you have got colds. The chances of infection are heightened by STRESS, exhaustion, chronic sickness or DEPRESSION-all of which lower resistance. Getting wet or sitting in a draught may give you a sitting in a draught may give you a chill but cannot give you a cold.
Garlic, Herbs and Spices
Garlic and onions are used as nasal decongestants for CATARRH in herbal medicine, and may help to relieve cold symptoms. Garlic also has antiviral and antibacterial properties, useful in fighting illness. You can try eating plenty of both, either raw in salads or added to cooking. Other herbs and spices may be helpful in alleviating cold symptoms include chilies, which bring on a sweat; basil, reputed to relieve the headaches associated with colds; and cloves and ginger, claimed by some naturopaths to have an expectorant action.
Feed a Cold?
Doctors recommend that you let your appetite be your guide when it comes to the old wives’ tale of feeding a cold. If you feel hungry, eat plenty of citrus fruits and foods that are rich in zinc.
The traditional Jewish standby of chicken soup is also worth trying. It is a good source of protein, calories and minerals and is easily digested.
When to Visit a Doctor
Complications are rare, but a cold may make the body more susceptible to secondary bacterial inspections, such as bronchitis, earache or sinusitis. You may need treatment if you have any of the following symptoms:
• A cough that becomes painful.
• You experience facial pain.
• One or both ears become painful.
• You have problems swallowing.
• You have breathing difficulties.
• There are traces of blood in your phlegm.
• You have high temperature that lasts for more than 48 hours.
Take Plenty Of:
• Fruit for vitamin C
• Eggs, red meat and oysters for zinc
• Garlic and onions which may act as natural decongestants
• Fluids on help prevent dehydration