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Colds and Flu

 

These are in fact two different illnesses. The common cold is an inflammation of mucous membranes caused by a number of viruses. Influenza is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract.

 

Symptoms

Cold viruses may cause:

  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Watery eyes
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches

When flu takes hold, symptoms are accompanied by:

  • High fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Enlarged lymph glands (in neck, armpits & groin)
  • Hoarse cough
  • Aching back, arms and legs

 

Causes

Both conditions, are spread through coughing and sneezing. We don't actually "catch" colds or flu; we allow them to catch us by neglecting our immune systems and ignoring early symptoms.

 

Natural Therapies

  • Garlic is an antibiotic herb that helps fight infection
  • Vitamin C, zinc and the herb Echinacea are indicated to boost the immune system against infection
  • Herbal cough mixtures containing herbs such as Licorice and Horehound help to clear mucus
  • Cod Liver Oil is a rich source of Vitamin A which is essential for lung and mucous membrane repair, and also omega-3 fatty acids which are soothing to inflamed respiratory tissue

 

Lifestyle Factors

Manage colds and flu carefully. Untreated, flu can lead to an even more serious condition like pneumonia. There's no 'cure' as such, but bed rest, lots of fluids, and regular small meals will help you recover faster.

Correct nutrition is a necessity and we should always endeavour to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in the daily diet as the are a good source of vitamin C. Studies and clinical trials have shown that supplementing with vitamins C and E can help strengthen the immune system, reducing the incidence and symptoms of colds and flu (Hemila, H. et al "Vitamin C and the Common Cold" Br. J. Nutrition" 67(1);316, January, 1992)

Drinking lots of liquids will help to loosen up the mucus and make coughing it up much easier. Warm liquids (such as herbal teas) or filtered water are best for this purpose.

Avoid dairy products, as they increase the body's tendency to form mucus.

The use of a mentholated chest rub will help to relieve coughs and to clear sinuses. A humidifier is also helpful for keeping the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and lungs moist.

 

Remedy

Common sense tells us that keeping warm and avoiding sudden temperature changes such as leaving a warm home or office for the cold outdoors will reduce the chances of catching a cold or flu.

Always wear warm clothing when moving from a warm to a cold environment, as in adequate protection to these sudden changes in temperature can lower resistance to infection.

If you smoke, stop smoking - it causes the build-up of toxic material in the lungs.

Keep your immune system strong by taking preventative doses of Echinacea or Cod Liver Oil and vitamin C.

 

Important Notes

Consult your healthcare professional if

  • Your cold lasts for more than 7 days
  • Your mucus is yellow, green, pink, or rust-colored.
  • Your cough is severe and long-lasting and accompanied by shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pains or tightness, a temperature, headache, back and leg aches, fatigue, rashes, or weight loss.
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