Friday, March 2, 2012

Cold Remedies


Over the past two weeks or so I have, as a friend of mine eloquently expresses it, been beset by the crud. That is, either a particularly vicious cold, or seasonal influenza. Unpleasant in any case. I'm mostly over it by now, but my wife has it. This has given us ample opportunity to experiment with a variety of cold remedies. None of them, alas, have cured the crud, but many have made it a good deal more tolerable.

I haven't discovered anything new, but have tried out a whole bunch of old remedies. These worked for me.

The cough

The big problem with the cough is that coughing makes it worse. Once you start, it's hard to stop, and your chest just gets more irritated. So it's best to try not to cough, and to use whatever cough remedies you may want to experiment with as soon as possible, so it doesn't get out of hand.

Honey works miracles. Take a teaspoonful and swallow it. The cough is gone. For a few hours at least. This has, incidentally, been demonstrated clinically to work better than just about any over-the-counter cough medicines. I hear morphine is even better, but that has some other side effects, and you can't get it over the counter in most civilized countries.

I am so. sick. of. honey. I can barely stand the sight of it. I've had three teaspoonfuls today. Yech.

Breath practice -- meditation -- works, especially when trying to go to sleep. When I had the worst chest irritation, I counted breaths or focused my attention on my breath while lying on my back, and allowed myself to go to sleep when I got to that point. It got the job done.

Essential oils make things a little more tolerable. Eucalyptus FTW. Rubbed on the chest or inhaled. Joanna swears by them.

Steam inhalation works too, but is a bit of a hassle.

Nasal congestion

I have funny-shaped sinuses which clog up really easily. I also get nosebleeds relatively easily. Nasal congenstion is a real problem. However, I've found a one-two punch that keeps it under control pretty nicely.

Nasal irrigation or neti as they call it in India. I use an old detergent bottle, fill it with warm brine, and run it through my sinuses. In through one nostril, out through the other. On the worst days, I did it up to four times a day. It gets the crud out and I believe has been demonstrated to stave off secondary infections like sinusitis.

Xylometazolin spray. This is an over-the-counter nasal decongestant. When used in combination with neti, it works wonders. I've only had to use a little once in a while, and have kept my nose mostly free.

Aches, pains, fever

Aspirin. Thank goodness for aspirin.

Coffee. Black. Strong. Several times a day.

General cruddiness

Chicken soup. Yeah, it really does work.

Hot rum punch with lemon. I don't know if it heals, but it certainly makes it more tolerable. In moderation, natch. Other hot drinks are nice too, but hot rum punch seems to work the best for me anyway.

Woolen socks. 'Nuff said.

Rest. I went to work on Friday of last week when I probably shouldn't have. I was running a temperature again on Saturday. Not a great idea. Better to stay in bed and get it over with. Learn from my fail.

I wish everyone a healthy rest of the winter. Next year, I will take that flu shot.


  1. We have a very long flu season in Canada. Your post has convinced me to get the flu shot today.

  2. Hope it's not too late. It takes about two weeks to take effect. The epidemic is peaking over here just about now. Then there is the B-flu, but that's the same as last year so we should have some herd immunity left over from that.

    Bastard viruses.

  3. Peaking in March ?? It's getting warm over here in the UK o.O