The Common Cold 101

As cold season approaches, many of us start to reach for those smooth tissues and common over-the-counter medications when those first sniffles and watery eyes begin to develop. How can we prevent or make these colds more manageable?
Easy! There are numerous ways to prevent and ease sniffles and sore throats, including the common treatments of chicken soup, tea and rest. In addition to these everyday methods, other contemporary remedies are available to prepare for the inevitable strike of the cold season.
Most common colds are caused by viruses called rhinoviruses, which are found in the invisible liquid droplets that float in the air and land on the surfaces of things we touch. These rhinoviruses can infiltrate the lining of the nose and throat, triggering the immune system to create a reaction that causes a headache, a sore throat and/or nasal congestion.
Although colds surge for various reasons, some of the most common include sleeping with a draft, not dressing warmly or leaving the house with wet hair. Being around people who have colds also increases the chances of getting sick, unless you are immune because you were exposed to their strain of the virus beforehand.
A nice, steamy bowl of chicken soup not only tastes good, but mothers have also universally prescribed it as a cure for the common cold. What is in this hot bowl of comfort that helps to ward off a cold? It has been found that chicken soup contains an amino acid called cysteine, which helps to break congestion and thin mucus.
‘Cysteine is an antioxidant that also has a remarkable ability to reduce the viscosity, or stickiness, of phlegm,’ said Dr. Irwin Ziment, the chief of medicine at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center. In addition, the steam from the soup helps clear the nasal passages.
Chicken soup starts off with three basic ingredients: chicken, water and salt. However, depending on preference and symptoms, adding vegetables, noodles or other ingredients can provide an added source of vitamins and nutrients. While chicken soup is a bowl full of childhood memories, the curative properties make it an excellent source of comfort and relief to people suffering from a cold.
Another step to get better from a cold is to drink tea. Various teas are excellent for breaking up congestion, while others provide soothing relief for sore throats.
Although tea is considered a stress-relief beverage, recent studies suggest that teas such as chamomile may have various therapeutic properties that help ward off colds. According to a study conducted by researchers from Imperial College in London, ‘hippurate, a breakdown product of tea flavonoids, acts as an anti-inflammatory and can help to fight infections in the body.’
Fluids are a must when suffering from a cold, and teas help guarantee that your body does not dehydrate. A quick stop at the grocery store should set you up with some nice chamomile tea bags. You could even add a teaspoon of honey, an antimicrobial that helps the immune system fight infections and gives the tea an enjoyably sweet taste.
Because colds ultimately leave our bodies tired, proper rest is essential. Getting adequate rest ensures that your immune system produces natural killer cells to destroy viruses. It is important to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night. By doing so, the body builds resistance and helps decrease the longevity of the cold.
Rest can also help prevent a cold from surfacing in the first place. Although having a hectic college schedule can make this hard, it is important to give our bodies the adequate rest needed to recuperate from a common cold.
Sore throats are one of the most common symptoms of a cold. There are many over-the-counter medications and lozenges that can be taken to relieve sore throats. However, before driving to the nearby pharmacy, you might want to try a home remedy first.
One easy remedy that requires only water and salt is gargling. According to Japanese researchers, ‘People who gargled