A Cure for the Common Cold

12 Feb

I haven’t been sick for more than 24 hours in over two years.  Many (maybe even most) people can probably make the same claim, but I have a history of getting sick every 2-3 months, especially during the winter.  (I refer here to simple head and chest infections…  not nasty stuff like malaria).

Everyone has different methods for preventing illness ranging from the scientific to the superstitious.  Here’s my general method for sickness prevention:

  •  Drink plenty of water (–> drink alot more when cold symptoms appear).

     This is probably good for my health in general.  It helps me prevent headaches and makes me feel better overall, but I still need to make a conscious effort to remember to drink.

     Cold-Eeze is an over the counter remedy for the common cold.  The active ingredient is zinc gluconate.  Cold-Eeze has been shown to shorten the duration of the common cold in clinical trials.  I really think it’s great stuff, and I encourage you to read the link above.

  • Don’t run outdoors in cold weather.

     I’m a fair weather runner, but not because I don’t like the cold…  I actually rather enjoy it.  However, my experience has been that when I run in the cold, I get sick.  This might be related to my asthma.

  • Take control of my allergies.

     I have pollen allergies, and I cannot tell the difference between allergy symptoms and a head cold.  The one small discrepancy between the two is that a head cold might not respond to allergy medicine, and allergies might.  Allergies seem to increase my succeptibility to getting head/chest infections anyways, so it’s clear that stopping allergies before they start is very important. 

  • Get a flu shot.

     I actually don’t usually get a flu shot, but I got one this year because of a recent trip out of the country, so I suppose I should list it here in case it is helping.

Notice the conspicuous absence of vitamin C from this list.  Recent studies have shown that vitamin C isn’t quite so great for combating the common cold as conventional wisdom would tell us.  In fact, I’ve heard that there is more hard evidence that Cold-Eeze works than vitamin C.

I don’t know which, if any, of these factors is contributing to my recent success in staying healthy.  I’m sure there are other factors that have more of an influence than I give them credit for (diet and excercise come to mind).  I’d be interested in hearing what you do to stay illness-free.  What do you do regularly?  What do you do when you feel the symptoms of a cold coming on?


Posted by on February 12, 2007 in No Easy Days


7 responses to “A Cure for the Common Cold

  1. sarahtoga

    February 13, 2007 at 2:09 am

    When I feel a cold coming on, I immediatlely try to slow down and rest as much as possible, even sleeping for an entire day or two… The urban myth of “carry on, and it will go away” is wishful thinking and seriously flawed logic, in my opinion.
    To prevent colds and improve my general health, i’ve noticed that keeping my living space free of mold and allergens helps a lot. I live in a very damp climate, so it’s necessary for me to wipe off my windowsills and clean with bleach or oxygel to prevent mold. Wash pillowcases and bedding often to get rid of dustmites helps too.
    I used to get a nasty case of bronchitis ever month or two, which would hang on for over a week – and eventually, I had to move, because I lived in a polluted area where smog collected.
    That made a huge difference. I rarely get sick more than once or twice a year, and I fight it off much faster.

  2. extorted

    February 13, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    I do not really do anything “particular” to stay illness free. Reason being my conviction that the more I do, the more I will get ill. Generally, my method seems to work. Well it won’t work when I will get older of course but that can wait I suppose.

    I am against flu shots. I don’t remember taking any in the recent years and I have been quite in a healthy state.

    Living a healthy lifestyle is the core, I think. My core at least. I practice sport three times a week. 75% of my main meals consist of rice with different condiments. Mid-morning / afternoon lunch consists of light yoghurt and cereal. I stopped smoking and started taking my only regular medicine, an asthma preventer (after relying for years on relievers – silly me)

    Two things I do however strongly believe in are stress prevention and stress management. I found that stress caused me more physical illness than I would have thought.

  3. halfawake

    February 13, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Sarahtoga – I definetely agree with slowing down when you feel the symtoms starting… If I feel sickness coming on, I go home, drink a gallon of water (over the course of a day), take my cold-eeze, and rest rest rest even if I don’t feel tired. I think it makes a huge difference, and taking that day or two off is much better than missing a week when you get really sick.

    extorted – I guess I don’t really have an opinion about flu shots, but my doctor recommended that I get one since I was leaving the country so I took them up on it. Stress prevention is something I haven’t been able to work into my routine yet, and even though I have been successfull in staying healthy for a while, lower stress levels would probably help my long term health.

  4. Eric

    February 19, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    I think that it’s pretty hard to actually figure out what makes you sick..
    Once you are feeling sick, resting a lot I’m sure does help to divert extra energy to your immune system, but beyond that infectious disease is related to so many factors, I don’t know if you can pinpoint a few actions that you’re taking to prevention of disease. Actually, excercise physiologists have found that mild exercise will help someone get over a cold faster as well, now that I remember, although this is supposed to be coupled with a lot of rest, so I guess it’s not mutually exclusive.

    Truthfully, the best way to avoid sickness is to avoid other people.
    That’s what I do.

  5. ray nwam

    December 23, 2007 at 5:28 am

    Excellent article and site .your piece is a great resource to the online audience. Please when you have time check out my site with many articles like seasonal allergies

  6. Lex

    July 27, 2008 at 3:17 am

    Same with me: I use to get sick 3-4 times per year. A few band colds /coughs and a flu.

    But at this point, I haven’t been sick in close to 3 years. My wife has even come down with bad coughs, and I still haven’t become ill.

    The only thing that I’ve changed that I would attribute to this, is that I’m careful about not touching my nose and eyes. I also take vitamins on a daily basis, and exercise (cardio and weights) 5-6 times per week.

    But in my opinion, it has to be washing your hands, and not touching your nose and eyes that keep the sickness at bay.


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