Cold, Cough & Congestion

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I’ve been fighting the nasty flu for the last 5 days…. with a pinch of fever and a dash of body aches. Oh how I hate the cold… and being ill.

I thought it would be wise to read up on the nasty flu/cold, to help my now sick girlfriend. Merry christmas, I brought you the flu.


The Common Cold

How do you know when you have a common head cold as opposed to a flu virus? Common cold symptoms are less serious than flu symptoms and they usually come on more slowly. You can expect a common cold to last as long as 10 days. Symptoms usually start two to three days after exposure to a cold virus — the incubation period.

There is no cure for the common cold because viruses, unlike bacteria, do not respond to antibiotics. And unlike the flu, common colds can’t be prevented because they are caused by more than 200 different viruses. So if you have a headache and other symptoms due to a common cold, all you can do is take care of yourself and wait it out.

Are There Different Types of Colds?

Head colds and chest colds are the two main types of colds, but they are caused by the same type of virus. If a cold goes down into your chest, you will probably notice a cough along with your stuffy head, headache, nasal congestion, and other symptoms. Having frequent colds does not mean you are getting different types of colds, but that you are getting exposed to different cold viruses. Summer colds are less frequent than winter colds, but they are not different types of colds.

Cold Remedies for Headache and Other Symptoms

There is no remedy that can make your cold go away any faster, but there are things you can do to relieve some of the symptoms, especially when you need a clear head at work:

  • Add moisture. Moistening your upper airway can help loosen secretions and can relieve pressure and congestion. You can do this with saline nasal drops, a humidifier, or by taking a hot, steamy shower. Drinking plenty of fluids helps keep your mucous thin and moving.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) will help alleviate headache, sore throat, and fever. Make sure not to use aspirin as a pain reliever for kids, as it could lead to a dangerous condition known as Reye’s syndrome.
  • Decongestant nasal sprays. These sprays will open up your nasal passages but must be used with caution, because they can cause a rebound effect that makes your nose even stuffier than before. Don’t use these sprays for children unless you check with your doctor first.
  • Cough and cold preparations. These over-the-counter medicines may combine decongestants, cough suppressants, mucous thinners, and pain relievers. They are mostly safe for adults, but carefully read the side effects. Those that contain antihistamines can make you drowsy and should not be used at work if you need to be alert. These medications are not recommended for children.

Headaches From Other Causes

If over-the-counter medications don’t help and your headaches persist, it’s time to consider other possible causes. One possibility is a sinus infection. With a sinus infection, pain is usually localized over one or more of the sinus areas in the forehead, around the eyes, and over the upper teeth. Sinus pain may get worse with movement. “A cold typically lasts for less than five days and is due to a virus,” says Jordan S. Josephson, MD, a sinus specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Secretions from a cold usually clear over time and do not need to be treated with an antibiotic. However, if your cold lasts more than seven days or you have increasing fever or pain, consider seeing your doctor to make sure you have not developed a sinus infection. If the mucous turns yellow or green, then an antibiotic may be needed.”

http://www.everydayhealth.com/cold-and-flu/headaches-and-head-colds.aspx


7 Natural Cough Remedies for Persistent & Dry Coughs

There are two primary types of coughs, dry and productive. A productive cough is one in which you are coughing up phlegm or mucous-this is not a cough that should be suppressed, as your body needs to rid itself of the gunk that’s in your chest/lungs. While it shouldn’t be suppressed, some of these remedies will address a productive cough by including an expectorant, or something that loosens mucous and makes it easier for the body to get rid of.

A dry, hacking, cough is another story. This is one we do want to stop. It can be caused byallergies, dry air, a random tickle at the back of your throat that won’t go away, the aftermath of a cold, being in a dusty environment, etc. etc. For these we turn to demulcents, ingredients that soothe irritated mucous membranes and remove the irritant triggering the cough. Studies conducted in 2004 found that the main ingredients in cough syrup (dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine) have the same effectiveness in treating coughs as a placebo ingredient. Instead of turning to chemical solutions for every minor ailment, try some home remedies instead. They are not only better for you, but they taste a whole lot better than most cough syrup too!

1. A Spoonful of Honey

Studies, such as one conducted at Penn State College of Medicine, have found that honey can work more efficiently to calm a cough than over-the-counter drugs. It is a rich demulcent, with a high viscosity and stickiness that does an incredible job of coating and soothing those irritated mucous membranes. Thanks to an enzyme added by bees when they harvest honey, it also hasantibacterial properties as well, which may help shorten how long you have the cough if it is due to bacterial illness.

Note: This is an excellent alternative remedy for both kids and adults, but should never be given to children under the age of 2 years due to the risk of botulism.

You will need…

-1 tablespoon of organic, raw, honey

Directions

Take 1 tablespoon of honey 1-3 times daily as needed to control coughing. Take immediately before bed if cough is disrupting your sleep. For children, you can adjust the dosing to 1 teaspoon up to one tablespoon.

2. Licorice Root Tea

Licorice root is both an expectorant and demulcent, simultaneously soothing your airways while loosening and thinning mucous, easing congestion. It can also ease any inflammation that may be irritating your throat. Its main constituent, glycyrrhizin, is responsible for most of its effects. 30-50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), it inhibits an enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (how would like you to write that on a name tag?) This enzyme regulates access of glucocorticoid (a steroid hormone) to steroid receptors, ultimately slowing the conversion of cortisol to cortisone. This increases the effect of cortisol and reducing inflammation. If you are on steroids, or have any problems with your kidneys, it is best to steer clear of licorice root.

You will need…

-2 tablespoons of dried licorice root
-8 ounces of fresh water

Directions

Bring water to a boil and place the licorice root in a mug. Cover with water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink the entire cup up to 2 times daily.

3. Gargle Salt Water

Also a popular remedy for sore throats, salt water can ease the discomfort caused by a cough the same way it helps a sore throat-through osmosis. When the concentration of salt is higher outside of the cells in your mucous membranes, water flows out of the cells to balance everything out. When water leaves the cells, swelling goes down, and discomfort is decreased. If you have a cough that happens to come along with inflamed tissue, this is a good route to take. It can also help dislodge any phlegm that’s hanging out and allow you to expel it easily.

You will need…

-1 teaspoon of salt
-8 ounces of warm water

Directions

Stir salt into water until it is thoroughly dissolved. Gargle for 15 seconds, spit, and repeat with the remaining water. Rinse with plain water afterwards.

4. Steam, Steam, Steam!

I can’t say how underrated steam is when it comes to anything dealing with a cough, cold, or congestion. Not only does the steam quite literally loosen mucous and phlegm, almost immediately, but you can add numerous essential oils that will impart wonderful healing benefits. These benefits (anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory etc.) do become airborne, so you inhale them while you breathe in the steam. For this particular blend I’ve included both tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil, which can help soothe and open your airways as well as help fight off bacteria or a virus.

You will need…

-3 drops of tea tree oil
-1-2 drops of eucalyptus oil
-A bowl of water
-A soft, clean, towel

Directions

Bring enough water to a boil to halfway fill a medium size-heat proof bowl. Pour the water into it, let it cool slightly for 30-60 seconds, and add the essential oils, giving it a quick stir to release the vapors. Lean over the bowl and get as close as you can while still being comfortable. Remember that steam can seriously burn! Use the towel to cover your head like a tent, trapping the steam, and breathe deeply. Ideally, do this for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times a day.

5. Tea Thyme

Thyme has been used for centuries, and was even used during one of the most devastating pandemics to take place in human history. The Black Death was a plague that peaked in Europe from 1346-1353. During that time, and in other incidents of the plague thereafter, townspeople would gather to burn large bundles of thyme to ward off the disease, or carry pockets of thyme on them. Indeed, thyme does have anti-microbial properties, but we’re not warding off any plague here-just your cough. Thyme relaxes the muscles of the trachea and bronchi, and also opens up airways. The result is less coughing, and increased comfort.

You will need…

-a handful of fresh thyme sprigs OR 2 tablespoons dried thyme
-8 ounces of fresh water
-Honey or lemon (optional)

Directions

Lightly bruise the thyme, e.g. with a mortar and pestle, and then place in a mug. Cover with 8 ounces of boiling water, cover, and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Add some lemon or honey to taste, and drink the whole thing. Repeat 2-3 times daily as needed. It’s absolutely delightful just before bedtime (unless you aren’t a fan of thyme. But drink some anyways.)

6. Pepper & Honey

Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice, but most of its use is limited to the culinary world. What people don’t know is that it can make a great remedy for coughs that are accompanied by a lot of mucous or chest congestion. If you’ve accidently leaned too close to black pepper while it’s being grinded, you know it can make you cough or tickle your nose. This may not be fun on a regular basis, but it’s a plus if you need to expel all the nasty stuff that’s gunking up your lungs. The honey adds its antibacterial properties, and it makes it so the pepper isn’t too irritating. You can make black pepper “syrup” with honey, or a tea, as below. If possible, use freshly ground black pepper, as the pre-ground pepper simply seems to lose some of its punch.

You will need…

-1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1 tablespoon of honey
-8 ounces of fresh water

Directions

Place the pepper and honey in a mug and then cover with boiling water. Give it stir to disperse the pepper flakes and melt in the honey. Steep for 10 minutes, stir once more, and drink in its entirety. Repeat 1-2 times a day as needed to loosen mucous.

7. Ginger Peppermint Syrup

Here you get the soothing qualities of warming ginger, all wrapped up in a delicious easy to swallow cough syrup. Spicy ginger works as an expectorant, helping loosen and expel mucous from the lungs. It can also stop the painful tickle at the back of throat that can trigger a cough if the first place, if you are experiencing a dry cough. The peppermint will also help relieve the irritating tickle of a cough.

You will need…

-3 tablespoons of chopped ginger
-1 tablespoon of dried peppermint
-4 cups of water
-1 cup of honey

Directions

Chop the ginger and add it along with the peppermint to 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat so that the liquid simmer. Simmer until the liquid has been reduced by half, than strain. Let it cool slightly, and then stir in 1 cup of honey until it has been dissolved completely. Bottle and take 1 tablespoon every few hours as needed to ease your cough. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Tips:

-I cannot stress the importance of covering your tea while it steeps. Not only does it keep it piping hot, it traps all the steam and any of the volatile oils in the steam (and their benefits) in the cup for you to inhale when you uncover it.

http://everydayroots.com/cough-remedies

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