Common cold examined

By Vincenza Parella

Sitting in a lecture hall, a myriad of coughs, sneezes and wheezes echo from every direction – all symptoms of annoying illnesses. Since doctor’s masks aren’t in Vogue this month, here are some tips for how to steer away from sickness or stave off an already existing cold’s life.

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER) goes through a series of things to do and things not to do so as to easily defeat the common cold. Traditional logic reigns supreme according to MFMER. The foundation suggests that the best remedies to the cold are sleep and consuming fluids such as water, tea and juice. Drinking fluids “helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration,” according to the foundation. MFMER also says that it is crucial to avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated beverages, which can worsen dehydration. Gargling salt water can temporarily relieve sore or itchy throats.

Although colds are usually minor and short-lived illness, they can make people feel miserable with the exhaustion and discomfort they can bring to the body.

Mom’s recipe for chicken noodle soup is a timeless trick to kill a cold. This warm and tasty meal is said to have positive effects on the body such as anti- inflammation and mucus thinning. Also, because of its salt content, the soup going down your throat tends to have the same effect as gargling salt water. In this way it removes bacteria from the throat, mouth and tonsils. Lastly, the soup can be strengthening. Its chicken provides protein and the vegetables provide other nutrients. All these ingredients combine to pack a powerful punch against the tyranny of the common cold. Prove you should listen to your mother, at least sometimes.

As winter sets in, it’s important to note that because cold viruses thrive in dry conditions that are often found in the wintry season. Dry air can also cause the mucus membranes to dry up which causes those dreadful stuffy noses and sore throats. One thing that can solve these predicaments is to use a humidifier. The only precaution is that its water must be changed every day otherwise it can grow bacteria and fungi, which would only be detrimental.

Antibiotics are usually not recommended for treating just a common cold. Antibiotics are meant to do away with bacteria, but the common cold is not a bacterial illness, it is a viral illness. Taking antibiotics only “contributes to the serious and growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.” Taking Vitamin C and Echinacea can help because both are thought to alleviate and prevent cold symptoms. So crack open the orange juice, but skip on the vodka, because we’re fighting a war against germs and not making a screwdriver. Also, fruits or beverages high in antioxidants and Vitamin C are key to a successful strike against sickness. Pomengranates, blueberries and citrus fruits are packed with these essential vitamins, and they are also wicked tasty to ensure you won’t let a cold prevent you from eating. Lastly, cranberry juice is a natural diuretic, and it’s a great beverage for flushing out your cold demons.

There are many old wives’ tales about colds, too, such as “feed a fever, starve a cold.” First of all, this adage does not even make sense in the slightest. Starving your body means you’re depleting your body of the necessary energy needed to recuperate. It’s a little silly to sleep 12 hours out of exhaustion in an attempt to feel better, and then deprive your body of nutrients afterwards. It is simply better to stay healthy and keep eating, but do your best not to over eat. Also, there are many other tales that say colds can be caught by staying out on a cold night with wet hair, but your chances of catching a cold do not increase. People simply have to come in contact with the virus itself. So stay away from anyone with the sniffles and carry antibacterial hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes. The University Health Services encourages people to wash their hands with soap and water and frequently use hand sanitizer, which is honestly the easiest way to keep cold away.

Vincenza Parella can be reached at [email protected]