How to Catch a Cold

Originally posted on November 16, 2014

Well, here in the Northern Hemisphere the cold weather has fallen, and winter approaches! Where I live we're having some flurries this morning, and it appears it may stick around a while.

With the cold weather invariably comes conversations and exclamations of "if it weren't for the changing temperatures, snow, cold, falling leaves, I wouldn't be sick all the time!"

Let's clear a few things up. Cold weather does not give you the cold or flu virus. Falling leaves do not give you the cold or flu virus. Daily changing temperatures, or going inside and outside from warm to cold, does not give you the cold or flu virus. Going outside with wet hair does not give you the cold or flu virus.

So, how does one catch a cold or flu?

Cold and flu viruses are airborne, plus they can live for several hours on hard surfaces like door knobs, ATM buttons, bus and subway "oh $#*!" handles, doctor's offices, phones, desk surfaces, kitchen and rest room faucets, pretty much anywhere. And they don't just appear because it's all of a sudden cold outside. It just so happens that when it starts to get cold outside is when the kids head back in school after summer break, they're inside all day, wiping snotty noses on their hands, sharing with their classmates, then they bring it home, and Mommy and Daddy take it to work with them to share it with unsuspecting co-workers and fellow commuters.

The common cold is a group of symptoms in the upper respiratory tract caused by a large number of different viruses. Although more than 200 viruses can cause the common cold, the perpetrator is usually the rhinovirus, which is to blame for causing 10% to 40% of colds. Also, the coronaviruses cause about 20% of colds and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes 10% of colds.

Although the common cold is usually mild, it is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. According to the CDC, 22 million school days are lost annually in the U.S. because of the common cold. Some estimates state that Americans suffer 1 billion colds annually.


So, if the common cold is everywhere, how can we prevent getting it?

First things first, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! This seems pretty basic, but most people don't actually know how to do that. Unfortunately we're bombarded with false claims of health foods on television and even from our doctors and government food guides, so it's not entirely our own fault! Not in the least. What we're told that is healthy is actually what is making us sick, so, do the complete opposite, and you'll find yourself catching colds and flus less and less often.

Eat Real Food! Lots and lots of vegetables! And then some more vegetables! Not breaded and deep fried either. Whole, natural vegetables. Lightly steamed, with some unsalted, whole fat real grass fed butter on it. None of that overly processed "lite" margarine crap. That stuff'll kill you. Have at least 6 servings of vegetables every day. And a couple servings of fruit. Not fruit juice! Real, whole, fruit! A whole orange will do you a world of good better than a glass of processed orange juice any day! Your plate at every meal should be at least 50% vegetables! Breakfast, lunch and dinner. With healthy fats as well. Olive oil, avocado, grass fed organic butter (if you can get it!), none of that inflammatory, industrialised "vegetable" oils, that are not actually made from vegetables (corn is a grain, canola is a seed, soya is a legume, and all of them are GMO).

Drink lots of healthy fluids. Staying hydrated is one of the most important steps to being a healthy You. Just regular ol' water out of the tap is great, filter it with a jug filter if you want to reduce the chlorine flavour. There are more safety measures in place for municipal tap water than there are for the bottled water industry, and there's no petroleum waste! (did you know that plastic bottles are made from dead dinosaurs?) Add a squidge (yes, that's a word! ;) ) of lemon or lime. It'll add a bit of flavour, and some needed Vit C and B9. Don't drink those crazy "diet" drink packets, they're full of artificial crap, and chemical sweeteners that ruin your gut flora, leaving you even more susceptible to colds and flu.

If you're in an area where whole lemons and limes are just too expensive in winter (which is pretty much anyone who lives outside of Florida or California this time of year!) there's these wonderful flavouring packets called True Lemon that is just crystallised organic lemon essence. There's also lime, orange, and other flavours. I love these hot or cold. They're great in summertime too to re-hydrate after a long hike in the woods, and for your emergency kit.

Get lots of sleep. Your body can't heal and repair itself if you don't get enough sleep. If caffeine is your weakness, then try to wean off. Limit to 2 or 3 mugs, and not after lunchtime. And none of that bubbly cola crap or mega "energy" drinks! Get your caffeine from organic natural sources of coffee, tea and cocoa. If you take in too much caffeine, then you can't sleep, then you need to drink more caffeine the following day to stay awake, it's a vicious cycle that you CAN beat, just wean yourself off the double mocha latte after lunch! Have some lemon water instead. Most of the time dehydration, and over consumption of refined foods is what is making you sleepy in the afternoons.

Teach yourself, and your kids, to sneeze and cough into the bend of your elbow, instead of into your hand. The inside of our elbows don't touch communal surfaces, so we keep our germs to ourselves!

Wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly! At least every time you go to the restroom. Regular ol' soap is fine. Part of our problem with super bugs is that we've over sanitised ourselves. We will eventually Lysol ourselves to death if we keep it up!

If you do find yourself with the telltale signs of scratchy throat and runny nose, do everything above, in earnest! Add some fresh grated ginger and local organic honey to some hot lemon water a few times per day. Flush your sinuses with salt water, using either a Neti Pot or HydraSense. Don't go to your doctor to insist on antibiotics! Cold and flu are viruses not bacteria! And you'll just spread the virus around some more by sitting sniffling in your doctor's office lounge. Stay home for a couple of days, honestly, work will survive without you.

So, what's the difference between a cold and a flu virus? A cold virus will generally take it's time settling in to get to know you. A flu virus will run you over like a freight train. With a cold you don't usually get fever and chills and body aches. With the flu, you could be laid up in bed for days, unable to move because of the freight train parked on top of you. The influenza virus can be deadly to young children, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system. The common cold however is just a momentary set back in productivity, that'll last about 5 days or so. The flu can knock out even the healthiest of people for a week or more, and leave you feeling rotten for several weeks after.

Just to close, there is no such thing as "stomach flu". The influenza "flu" virus is a respiratory illness. It hits your lungs and sinuses, not your digestive system. If you have vomiting and diarrhea, it is likely either food poisoning, (will not usually include fever) or a gastrointestinal virus, (will include fever) entirely different from the flu virus. Drink lots of fluids, (after the vomiting has subsided) wash all surfaces, and stay in bed until it passes. Maybe take a high dose probiotic and eat some fermented foods to get your gut flora back in line.  If it continues for 3 days, or you become severely dehydrated or delirious from fever, see your doctor. If you're delirious, have someone else drive you! Call ahead to find out if they would prefer you head to the ER for IV hydration.

There, I hope this information will help you stay warm and healthy this season.


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