THE CRUD: A MEDICINE-FREE SURVIVAL GUIDE

If there is anything more cruel than a respiratory infection at Thanksgiving, it’s having it in the dead heat of Summer.

I call it THE CRUD and for whatever reason, I get it once a year. This year, I managed to escape all manner of Crud until last week. Let me tell you; I will never complain about having to have broth for Thanksgiving ever again if it means not having to endure hot weather AND head/ throat/ chest misery.

Because of its regularity over the years, I have been able to identify my symptoms (unbearable throat tickle, heaviness in the chest and lungs, sinus pressure like crazy) and begin my own treatment as a means of significantly shortening the life of the cold. I have got it down from a couple of weeks to a few days.

I should mention that when I relied on over-the-counter drugs, my colds lasted longer. I still use them, but very sparingly. Mostly for peaceful sleeping at night, which is essential for a successful battle. The flip side is that sometimes night time medicines have the opposite effect and keep me up at night, leaving me feeling drowsy in the morning so proceed with caution.

With the cold season already upon us, I thought I would share my strategies, godspeed to you good readers. May you not require this information:

Gargle with salt water as soon as your throat starts to tickle. Do it several times a day and eventually you will notice that your throat doesn’t tickle or scratch so much as it aches, this is progress.

Drink as much as humanly possible. I like to alternate between hot and cold beverages and I make a few different tonics to keep my throat soothed and the illness on it’s toes. They might not sound pleasant, but this is war, people!

  • Apple Cider Vinegar/ honey/ cinnamon/ cayenne in hot water.
  • Orange juice mixed with Pellegrino
  • Water, water, water
  • Hot, hot tea/ lemon/ fresh ginger
  • Thai soup, spicy broth, lots of garlic
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat

Avoid dairy and sugar. Dairy increases phlegm production and sugar makes a tickly throat SO MUCH MORE TICKLY. No one wants that. However, when you are drinking this much, you will find that you are not as hungry, so you will naturally eat light and won’t really want much. Absolutely avoid overeating. It is ten times more uncomfortable under these circumstances.

Neti pot like crazy. Normally I use this bad bird once a week or so, but when I’m in the trenches and I can’t breathe through my nose, I may use it four times a day. It is an absolute godsend. An acquired practice that I totally recommend acquiring.  Also, breathing through my nose does not irritate my throat as much so keeping it clear is key.

Breathe through your nose. Part of my method for dealing with a tickly throat is keeping my mouth covered with a scarf or blanket and breathing through my nose, which is particularly uncomfortable when it’s 90+ degrees outside. It also makes it difficult to tell whether or not you have a fever, being so hot.

Nap. Rest. It is, aside from drinking like crazy, the most important part of fighting sickness. This is just a good general rule. When you have a head/ chest thing happening, it is particularly important to sit up so that everything drains. Gross, but true. When you lie flat, you will notice that your nose plugs and you begin to feel much, much worse.

Put cool pressure over your eyes. Pick up one of those lavender-scented “spa masks,” preferably one that can be heated or cooled, keep it in the fridge.

Take a hot, steamy bath. Or use a vaporizer. It helps to loosen things up and it feels great. You may want to add some epsom salts and/ or essential mint or eucalyptus oil. We have an essential oil diffuser which is great for moisturizing and disinfecting the air. A heating pad is also wonderful on your chest and throat or between your shoulder blades.

Move around, clean a little, stretch. Moving around helps circulation and in getting warmed up, I sort of feel myself out; what am I capable of today? Plus, with all the drinking, you will be going to the bathroom lots, so keep ‘er clean. Don’t tire yourself out and don’t use any chemicals as they will irritate your nose and throat, just a simple straightening things out and neatening up.

Listen to your body. Obviously, first thing in the morning we all feel less-than-stellar, it isn’t until 8 or 9 am that I start to feel pretty good, it’s the baseline for my day. With this particular cold, I get wiped out early and easily so I make sure to take it easy and rest once I start to feel run down. Tiredness lowers the immune system and a compromised immune system is the enemy.

What are your cold-fighting strategies?

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