As we have seen, once it is clear that the virus has snared its victim, isolation is the first social golden-rule. From then on in, it is a case of alleviating symptoms by medication – control of fever with paracetamol every four hours in the proper dosage, along with an increased intake of water or better still – for its Vitamin ‘C’ content – pure orange juice.
Avoid caffeine, but in adults, a little alcohol will be beneficial. A lot may be even more beneficial. In Russia, for example, the established ‘treatment’ (i.e., alleviating of symptoms) is to go to bed for three days with three bottles of vodka and let the cold run its course. In this way you provide your body with the essential fluids it needs whilst providing your mind with the opportunity it needs to remain oblivious to all the horrible symptoms (and indeed everything else!) of this nasal equivalent of diarrhea. If, however economy dictates that no vodka is affordable, then, strong mentholyptus sucking tablets will help soothe the sore throat and clear nasal passages, and plenty of rest in a warm but well ventilated room is perhaps all that can be hoped for. The diet should (as always) consist of organically grown fresh fruit and vegetables, oily fish and simple, unprocessed foods.
Ideally, then, a cold patient should be as isolated as possible, and should sneeze into (red) handkerchiefs only. It is crucial to keep all eating utensils plus towels, flannels, etc., confined to the patient and avoid any other people coming into contact with any item the patient regularly handles or with the air which the patient is breathing. Clearly, the patient will be constantly blowing his nose etc. and this increases the likelihood of his hands being infected and his immediate environment: so these precautions are only common sense.
The general pattern of treatment, or rather, symptom alleviation, is thus isolation, and time. The full blown force of a cold should last for only 2 – 5 days, by which time the virus will have used its host to replicate many millions of times over – but if the replication is confined to a dead bedroom, then the damage limitation for the rest of us is enormous; isolation at the first sign of symptoms is therefore a civic duty.
For very young children, if wheezing occurs, the doctor may be persuaded to prescribe bronchodilators to clear nasal passages. Also, saltwater drops will assist followed by a soft bulb nose syringe to suck out the blocking fluids. In the elderly, symptoms herald perhaps not only a cold, but also the onset of influenza – and here the doctor must be consulted, and obviously if there is any warning of an incoming ‘flu infection’, inoculation should always be sought. In general, decongestants, cough suppressants and antihistamines all relive symptoms: certainly the patient must be encouraged not to mix socially or to attempt to carry on as if the cold is ‘nothing at all’ – others won’t thank her for that approach.
So much for the tortures of the common cold. What though, is this article really about? Now that we have outlined the nature and symptoms of the common cold, I want to propose a thesis based upon research into the incidences of the common cold: I want to propose that:
The common cold is not, as is scientifically supposed, a random illness: it is caused by randomly occurring viruses in the community, true, but it is not at all inevitable that any virus will actually cause a cold – as I hope to show: the recipient has to be receptive. By this I do not mean that the recipient has not to have had the virus before and thereby already has antibodies designed to deflect it, but that the immune system of the recipient comes in waves of strength which are, like biorhythms, set at a pattern: and if we can plot that pattern, we can determine when, in any year, the recipient is likely to succumb to a cold – and furthermore, we can plot this to precise dates. It might sound fantastic – but I believe it’s true. To begin, I offer my own experiences.
The Immune System
An active immune system protects against infection and viral invasion. The immune system is composed of white blood cells, called B and T cells. The B cells produce antibodies, which comprise proteins which neutralise both viral strains and bacteria. The T cells comprise in part ‘T helper’ cells, which ‘decide’ the tactics the immune system takes against incoming infections.
B and T type cells are prevalent in the blood stream and lymphatic system. Fortunately, the onset of a cold – the first symptoms of slight congestion, mild fever etc, (see Symptoms on the home page), are the result of the immune system starting to detect and attack the incoming virus – so immune boosting nutrients should be increased at this time. This will stop the illness getting worse, or better still, prevent it from gaining hold at all.
Colds and Asthma
Asthma affects around one adult in 10 of the UK population, and the condition is becoming more common in children, affecting about one in seven. Asthma is a condition which makes breathing difficult because the airways become narrowed by inflammation. There are a variety of successful medicines on the market for this condition, but clearly, having a cold makes asthma symptoms far worse: in fact, colds often trigger asthma attacks, so it is particularly important that asthmatics keep a boosted immune system to ward off cold viruses.
Recent research suggests, paradoxically, that an absence of dust mite droppings in ultra hygienic environments prevents children from developing immunities to dust mite droppings. This is interesting for its implications for the immune system: 150 years ago allergies were rare: today one in seven children has asthma. The argument is that dust mite droppings contain microbacteria and toxins that actually help the immune system to develop antibodies yet a sterile early environment actually causes allergies later in life if, for example, the individual moves into a dusty house over- filled with heavy upholstery and carpets.
Visit the National Asthma Campaign, (www.asthma.org.uk), for more information.
Many upper respiratory ailments can give cold-like symptoms which are not caused by the common cold. Allergic reactions to dust mites, airborne pollutants and even foods can cause sneezing and coughing and even sore throats. If you suspect that your symptoms may not be caused by common cold viruses, visit The Allergy Website at allergyuk.org for more information.