How to thrive and survive during cold season
Catching a cold, especially during the cold weather months, can feel like an unavoidable part of life and yet, there are many things we can do to reduce the chances we will catch a cold and how severe it will be when we do.
Once we’ve contracted the virus through a sneezing co-worker or family member with a stuffy nose, symptoms will appear in 2-3 days. Symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and coughing. A typical cold can last anywhere from 3 to 10 days but can lead to complications due to opportunistic bacteria resulting in sinusitis, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Some may say it’s best to just let a cold run its course, but treated early, a cold is likely to resolve in less time with less complications. That means less time in the doctor’s office or walk-in clinic and reduced likelihood that we will need a prescription to deal with the aftermath of the common cold.
Strategies for prevention
The first place to start is to develop lifestyle practices that will help to keep our immune system in top form. These include:
- Getting enough good quality sleep (6-8 hours per night)
- Getting regular moderate exercise
- Taking a Vitamin D supplement – deficiency of this vitamin is very common in North America during the winter months. Low levels of Vitamin D impair the immune system’s response to cold and flu.
- Staying hydrated with 6-8 glasses of water or non-caffeinated tea per day.
- Eating the rainbow: fresh and healthy food with a focus on green leafy veggies, citrus and other colourful fruits and vegetables
- Washing our hands before we eat and after any public outing
- Avoiding touching or rubbing our eyes or nose which will reduce the likelihood of a virus making its way into our system
- Reducing our intake of refined sugar, particularly fructose as it impairs the immune system for 6-8 hours after ingestion. It also creates a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi.
- Managing daily stress – a stressed out body and mind make us more vulnerable to illness.
Once we’ve contracted a cold, the best chance to reduce its duration is to treat it as soon as symptoms begin (within 24 hours). Here are some top remedies I have on hand in my homeopathic medicine cabinet.
Ferrum Phosphoricum: this is the number one remedy I have on hand at all times. If taken at the first stage of feeling unwell but before clear symptoms begin, it can thwart a cold altogether. It can also be used for a cold that has a slow onset (up to 16 hours). The cough is worse in the morning and evening and when going into open air.
Allium-Cepa: a remedy for the classic common cold. There can be a dull pain in the forehead, discharge from the nose that feels like it burns, with eyes that are red and burning. There will be sneezing and a tightness at the root of the nose. A cough that is worse in cold air.
Aconite: this cold will come on suddenly after exposure to wind and cold. Symptoms include: flushed face, agitation, restlessness and increased thirst. The nose will be runny and the skin hot and dry. One cheek of the face may be red, the other pale. Cough will be dry and barking, (like heard when a child has croup).
Camphor: can be used at the first stages of a cold when the prominent symptom is icy coldness of the body and sneezing.
Nux Vomica: treats a cold brought on by damp, cold weather. Will be accompanied by chills, and possibly fever. Lots of sneezing. Stuffed up nose at night with runny watery nose during the day. Dry, teasing cough that can lead to a bursting headache. Feels worse from eating. Tickling sensation in the nose. A cold sufferer needing this remedy will be very irritable.
Arsenicum Album: this cold will present with a sore throat that is better for sips of cold water. Runny nose with discharge that leaves the nose and upper lip sore and red. This cold sufferer will be anxious, irritable, and may vocalize worries about their health. Chills even when in a warm room with a dull, throbbing headache that is worse around midnight. Eyelids are puffy and red.
It’s important to note that homeopathic medicines work differently than other medicines, so a remedy is only taken as needed and stopped once symptoms improve. If symptoms that were improving return after a time, another dose of the remedy can be taken.
The recommended potency of the remedy is 30C, which can be seen on the vial. Take three pellets under the tongue 15 minutes after food or strong flavours. Then, wait and observe to see if symptoms improve. If there is no improvement within 2-3 hours, take another dose of three pellets. If there is no change after 3 doses, reassess symptoms and try another remedy or consult a homeopath or other healthcare provider.
If you’d like to put together a customized homeopathic medicine kit for your home, I can help. Contact me to arrange a short consult where I can advise what remedies to have on hand based on your lifestyle.