Monday 20 December 2010

Head Cold

I don't know if this word exists, but I think it should. I mean this type of cold where the head feels heavy and like a pressure cooker between the eyes, one is really really tired and the nose is running although it is blocked.
It starts with a bit of sneezing and feeling knackered and then things go very quickly until one feels like hit by a train.
Chest cold is different, it starts with a bit of a sore throat and possibly a swollen gland, a bit of coughing and then if it is getting really bad the voice goes entirely.
I'm not really interested in what sort of virus or bacteria is causing it, I only want to get rid of them - quickly.
Rule of Thumb
There is one rough rule of thumb, though: First symptoms are usually caused by virus, at that time everything slippery flowing from nose and throat is rather clear. That's when doctors say: Go home and have a rest. The silly virus the body has to fight off all by itself, the only thing possible is to give the body some support.
Everything yellowish is usually caused by bacteria which were happy to find a body with a virus damaged immune system. It's a bit as if you just fought off a pack of wolves and now the vultures are closing in.
So if a cold stays for several days without getting better and then turning yellow, it's time to see the doctor. Vultures can be fought off by antibiotics.
This article is not really scientific and entirely based on my experience. I just thought I'd let you know what helped me well.
My Diagnosis
Head Cold as depicted above
Avoiding bacteria!
Reduce number of virus!

Avoiding Bacteria

Yay, that is the easiest bit. Just don't go where they are. Well, I know it's almost impossible to do so when you have kids. But seriously:
Don't go to work!
There is no point in getting into contact with more people than necessary. There are at least a few who will carry a nasty bug. And it's a bit unfair as well to spread your virus.
Avoid the doctors!
That's the place where wolves and vultures feel at their happiest. I wouldn't go close to a waiting room unless my sinuses were blocked with custard. By then it can't get worse anyway. But not a second earlier.

Fighting the Virus

There are two types of measures. One is to support the immune system so it can fight the virus better, the other is to actively reduce the number of virus that sit on and in the body.

Supporting the Immune System

Have a rest whenever possible! It is amazing what a bit of sleep can do for you. The body just doesn't have to bother about keeping temperature and heart rate and everything else at bay. So all the energy that is available can be used to build immune cells which will be able to attack and digest the virus.

Eat and drink healthily! Well you should do that anyway, but at times of illness the body usually signals needs by having certain cravings - mostly salty things like soup - so it should have it.

Have a lot of Vit C!
I hit two flies with one stone by having Multivitamin drink with added Vit C powder. I take 1g of Vit C three times a day. The powder I get from Germany online, unfortunately the site is in German.

Alternatively almost every food store has some kind of a chewable pill, usually in a 500mg dosage.

Have Paracetamol!
Paracetamol has a bit of an inflammatory feature, which helps infected sinuses and since the whole thing usually goes along with a headache anyway, it is quite a relief.
Be careful when you use Lemsip to drink. There is at least one version that already has Paracetamol in it. Read the labels for the daily dose and then make sure you won't overdose from using different sources of Paracetamol.

Reducing the Number of Viruses

Now that are the fun bits. The place where these buggers can be found is naturally in the sinuses and the mouth area - which are not easily cleaned. Unfortunately they are sitting inside, hence cleaning materials have to get there.
Although I don't like them very much I use nose drops to keep the nose unblocked. Aeration is important and debris has to be able to come out and transport virus and bacteria with it. One just has to be aware that nose drops can be addictive and can cause congestion when overused. So when the cold is gone, see to get rid of them as quickly as possible.
Inhalation! Steam is a really good cleaning material for every cavity.
One either can take a bowl with hot (not boiling) water with a camomile tea bag, some rosemary, sage and/or thyme twigs, hang the head above the bowl with a towel thrown over the whole set up to create a tent. And then breathe and enjoy.
Or you can get a device from a pharmacy which consists of a bowl where the water goes in, and a top bit with a nozzle kind of thing to put the nose into. With the ball one can puff a bit of air into the water so that steam rises through the nozzle.

I personally don't like that thing because I tend to not keep it upright when sitting comfortably - with the result that the water keeps pouring over me since the two parts of it are not properly sealed against each other.

Or you can do my brutal method of using a knob of VapoRub, a glass half full with hot water and a bunch of tissues - you will need them, believe me. It's a bit of a killer therapy, but the only one that really works for me.

Once the VapoRub is in the water, take a deep slow breath in with one nostril blocked, breath out through the mouth and not above the glass to not blow the vapour away. Then it's the turn of the other nostril, and then breath in through the mouth. Do three to four times. By then the eyes are watering like a waterfall, one is sniffing and coughing and the vapours are gone.

It sometimes is really hurtful when there are infected areas. But I go through with it thinking: Die you bastards!

It usually is a bit messy to get rid of the glass with the oily stuff in it. So I put the spoon with which I put it into the water - use the wrong end, it's easier to handle - I put this spoon back in and let the water cool down. Then a thin layer of the rub base can be lifted off the surface and wiped off with a tissue, the rest is just plain water.

I try to do this twice a day.

Tongue Cleaning!
Oh well, nobody said that this is a nice subject. There are these ridiculous devices with which one is supposed to scrape off yukky bits from the back of the tongue.
They were invented to prevent bad breath. The stuff that accumulates at the end of the reachable bit of the tongue usually doesn't come off from brushing teeth or using mouthwash and bacteria from food predigestion settle there and stink. Well, and this is a brilliant place for our viruses to take base camp. So be prepared for some gagging.
BTW: I got mine from the dentist and it is metal. The plastic ones from the super stores were not really functional and are a bit wobbly and hard to manoeuvre.

Nasal Wash!
That is the most disgusting thing of all. Wikipedia has it's own more sophisticated account, here is mine:
The idea is to have water flowing into one nostril, from there into the sinuses and coming out the other nostril. Under certain conditions it goes the other way round and ends up in the throat.
Especially if done with salt water, what is very efficient since none of the buggers (virus, bacteria, fungus even) like salt. Hence the craving for salty food.
So there are these devices you can get from the pharmacy which work like a little syphon. One teaspoon sea salt (with no additives) dissolved in warm water. The lower end popped into one nostril, stay as upright as possible, breath through the mouth and wait for a bit - you'll see!
Our bottle is rather good. It has a hole in the lid so it can be locked with a finger tip and with a bit of pressure the water flow can be adjusted. In the first picture it is upside down that is how I dry it.
On bending the head towards one side, or when the outgoing nostril is blocked the water flows to the throat. It's horrible, but I always allow that for a bit so the salt gets everywhere.
In the second picture it is locked, so no water comes out. To use, the green bit can be bent upward and a round knob to fit the nostril needs to be attached.

Well, it is all rather horrible, but it works. It's all better than ending up with a custard nose. However, best is to not get a cold at all.

Wishing you a healthy winter season!

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