If you are in a sunny European country or Northern Australia, you will be escaping our cold snap. Lucky you! But if you are where I am, our usual sunny Perth is now experiencing lows of Zero degrees and our Eastern neighbours in NSW, Victoria and Tassie are experiencing much colder.
So, as we are in the peak cold and flu period the debate goes on ‘Can you really treat a cold?’
Dr Cindy Pan, author, television personality, lecturer and GP with over 10 years of clinical practice, says ‘Yes you certainly can treat a cold. Colds are caused by viruses, so antibiotics are not required if no secondary bacterial infection occurs as complication.’ Cindy wisely suggests plenty of rest, TLC, drinking plenty of fluids including lots of warm soothing liquids such as honey and lemon drinks to sooth sore throats and avoiding stress. Of course, Cindy says there are the usual prescribed paracetamols, nasal sprays and decongestants, but it is important to be aware of potential side effects and risks. For example, over-use of nasal decongestant sprays can rebound congestion where the nasal congestion, inflammation and irritation can be worse than ever, possibly requiring the use of oral or topical steroids to break the cycle! Decongestants can also cause dry mouth, sleep disturbance and increase in blood pressure (which may be particularly concerning if you already have hypertension or cardiovascular disease.)
So – let’s concentrate on prevention. Leah Hechtman, naturopath, lecturer, author and researcher and industry consultant says that prevention is the most important strategy.
Here are Leah’s top hints for keeping the best health during this cold and flu season:
- Know your limits and don’t push your body too hard. Late nights, alcohol and partying, too little sleep and poor diets are bound to have an effect on the body. We often get sick simply because we are run down and have pushed ourselves too hard. Our bodies are only able to put up with so much.
- Herbs such as echinacea and garlic and onion are all good to have during this season to build up a healthy system. Nutrients such as vitamin C and zinc help to encourage the immune system and, are best taken as low, divided doses repeatedly throughout the day.
- Avoiding sugar is also paramount. Sugar – in any form – suppresses the immune response and prevents you from fighting a bug.
- Stay well hydrated, well rested and eating wholesome, nourishing foods are essential strategies to enable you body to do what it needs to do. Chicken soup, warm pyjamas and adequate sleep often accomplish more than we realize.
- If you are not on a regular daily dose of vitamins and minerals to supplement your healthy diet, think about it seriously, so you get that extra feeling of well-being, and not go through your day in ‘survival’ mode like a lot of people.
If you do catch a cold and feel low, take your herbs as soon as possible and maintain until the infection has completely cleared. Essential oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint and lemon are all natural decongestants. Regular inhalations are incredibly effective for helping to break down mucus, improve breathing and kill the virus. Putting a few drops in a mug of hot water and inhaling at your office desk or putting a few drops on the shower floor before you turn the water on are simple strategies to treat a cold.
In terms of avoiding transmitting the cold virus, it is a good idea to wash your hands and keep your distance from others, especially when coughing and sneezing. Coughing or sneezing into your elbow rather than your hand is one way of decreasing the risk of transferring viral particles from your hands onto other surfaces (such as doorknobs), where they may survive for about three hours.
So thankyou to Dr Cindy Pan and Leah Hechtman for those valuable hints.
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Please do not hesitate to email me on any specific requests you may have with regard to health and wellness. I can include your interests in coming newsletters. We have access to many experts and researchers with information we would love to share with you. So looking forward to hearing your suggestions any time.
Until the next one……..
May top health and wellness be yours (and it can be!)