Friday, March 21, 2008

Some natural help

As I posted about recently I had to take my son to the Doctor's office expressly for the purpose of getting a note for him to prove to school he was actually sick.

Generally we rarely set foot in a Doctor's office unless we have serious pain or raging fever that could be something more serious. We are overall a healthy family with no ongoing issues (severe asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues etc) so most "common" illnesses are just something we have to overcome and wait out.

Here are some "natural" remedies and ways to deal with colds AND flu that may save you the time and expense of going to the Doctor's office since it is not always necessary to go to the Dr to get better. ( Some people go to get antiviral drugs when they have the flu but these can cause side effects and even the CDC says they may shorten the duration by 1 or 2 days, which is not very much.)

First--Wash your hands!! The flu virus (and cold) is spread by someone sneezing or coughing their germs onto surfaces. These germs can live in this hostile environment for up to 3 hours. This means that the person who used the debit card machine 2 hours before you is still there in a sense. You then use the debit card machine (or touch their change or the counter they touched) and then poke your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth. Those are the three ways that viruses generally get into the body---obviously cuts and other things can be entrance vectors but we are trying to be simplistic here. Also--- studies do prove that at the first signs of illness, extra vitamin C and zinc, whether in lozenge, nasal spray, or juice form can help to at least reduce the severity of colds and influenza. By how much? No one really knows for sure but hey....pina colada blend orange juice tastes great so I don't mind drinking it.

Secondly---lay off the aspirin if you start to develop a LOW fever. Fever is the number one top notch way for the body to kill a virus (such as cold or flu)---though it does make you feel kind of yukky for a bit. A low fever is considered anything below 102 degrees. I would go so far as to say that anything below 100 is a safe bet that you or your child will not die for sure. Above that is your personal choice whether or not to give aspirin. Obviously you have to use your better judgment. If the fever is accompanied by extreme pain, vomiting, convulsions etc---definitely a Dr is in order. This is something anyone can research a bit more on line for their selves.

Three--Have coughing? Then you must need to get rid of some phlegm/mucous. Drink LOTS and LOTS of fluid. Fluid helps keep mucus moist, so it can be expelled easier and also helps to keep sinuses moist and keep those nagging "stuffy head" headaches at bay. This is a must for anything involving mucus and the lungs.
Also---my personal favorite: Steam. Don't waste your time trying to steam up your bathroom. Boil some water in a pot and poor it into a large bowl. Drape a towel around your head and over the bowl and breathe as deep as you can---through your mouth and through your stopped up nose. It will absolutely help stop coughing and break up the mucous. Do this a number of times a day (and night---especially if you wake up coughing). I have done it up to 10 times a day because it just helps so well. Another thing......add some eucalyptus or camphor oil. Easily found in the essential oil section of your local green grocer or health food store. I used eucalyptus the last time I had a "croup" type cold. Between the steam and the essential oil, I quickly broke up the problem and worked into a productive cough (with much less coughing to boot)

Here's a small excerpt from another site about steaming:

Steam inhalation is an effective treatment in respiratory conditions and is highly recommended for treatment of the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies and asthma.

1. Steam relieves inflammation and congestion of upper respiratory mucous membranes.
2. Steam relieves throat irritation by moistening the air.
3. Steam relieves spasmodic breathing (Asthma, Croup).
4. Steam loosens secretions and stimulates discharge of mucous from the throat and lungs.
5. Steam relaxes muscles and relieves coughing.
6. Steam Keep mucous membranes from excessive drying

For very young babies steam is one of the few ways to help with cough or croup since cough medicine is not recommended for them---not that most of the cough medicines help that much anyway. If you read labels the majority of cough medicine (even some prescription ) is made with Guaifenesin. This is a medicine used to help expectorate mucus. The funny thing about this medicine is that you really need to drink lots of fluid to help it do it's job (it says that --really). it really doing the job then or are the fluids?

Lastly for us---a bit of green phglem does not send us to the doctor. We use our judgement to decide. If we are feeling better, coughing is productive, and no fever is present or no longer present then we consider that our bodies are taking care of the problem on it's own and antibiotics are not needed. If fever is now present when it wasn't or coughing is less productive or worse then a visit to the Dr. is probably in order.

My point of this post? People are smart and can learn to care for their selves without wasting time or money in a dr's office for a cold or other minor things. I think we have all been brainwashed to believe we need some one to tell us we will make it or to commiserate with us----I'm not sure which.
Studies show that the major reason Dr's give prescriptions is to make people feel as if the Dr actually did something for them or to "be on the safe side". I mean---how many times have you made it out of a dr's office without a prescription? However antibiotics CAN NOT do a thing for flu or colds and studies are starting to show that cough medicines aren't really doing much either. Worse is that we still are overusing antibiotics by going to get a prescription for one because we just don't want to take the time to do simple things to help our body like steam inhalation, drink fluids and REST.

Well, hopefully it will be along time before anyone in my family has this again. But, just in case we do....we know some tricks to help care for ourselves while our body fights the enemy. Hope your family has good luck avoiding the dreaded flu and cold season next time.


Phelan said...

That's what I like about our Dr. He doesn't prescribe just to prescribe. He'll tell you straight out that antibiotics won't work for something, and we rarley leave with a script. He is younger then most the drs I have dealt with, maybe that's one reason.

Hayden said...

no flu or cold again this season, knock wood! I agree with you, though - people are too fast to rush to the doctor. I used to have a boss who essentially insisted on it, even when I was sick but still working. He was one of those lunatics that always got antibiotics for flu...

Twinville said...

Oh my gosh! Don't get me started on Dr visits.
We only go to our yearly check ups, but even they are earning a bad reputation in our house.

I recently too my 3 kids into the Ped's office for their yearly and two of them had just got over some very mild colds (runny noses, that was it) and had been free of any symptoms for at least 4 days.

Well, at the front desk they ask everyone "Have you experienced any cold symptoms in the past 7 days?"

If so, then you sit in the 'sick child' room.

So, we had to sit in the same room with hacking, sneezing, nose dribbling, finger groping children for almost 35 minutes.

Guess who'se been suffering from a terrible flu bug for the past 2 weeks, eh?

All 3 of my kids ended up getting reinfected and had some milder cold versions for a few days, except on of my older sons who had a vomiting bout for 24 hours after the Dr visit.

And I've had everything from head, sinus, respiratory, chest symptoms, and aches and pains all over. I still feel weak and congested and can't shake this thing!

Makes me seriously question wether these yearly visits are even necessary. My kids are never sick, except rare mild colds.

But every time we go to the Dr's office we come home terribly sick!

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Seems like all of us leaving comments here are like minded. Though I find I am the odd person out around here comparitively. Where are all the like minded people???
Oh yes---we all live in the country far from each other hahahaha