II Tips for Fighting "Cold" War.

Headache. Stuffy nose. Cough. Fever. Itchy eyes. Sore throat. Muscle aches. If you're like most people, you know the symptoms of the common cold all too well. Although Americans spend more than $5 billion annually on doctor visits and cold remedies-everything from tissues and vitamin C to over-the-counter decongestants and herb teas-there is no cure for the common cold.
Colds, also called upper respiratory infections, are caused by hundreds of different viruses,according to David N. Gilbert, M.D., director of the Department of Medical Education at Providence Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. "But we don't have any drugs that can kill or inhibit these viruses," he says. "We have to depend on the body's natural defenses."
During a cold, virus particles penetrate the mucous layer of the nose and throat and attach themselves to cells there. The viruses punch holes in the cell membranes, allowing viral genetic material to enter the cells. Within a short time, the virus takes over and forces the cells to produce thousands of new virus particles.
In response to this viral invasion, the body marshals its defenses: The nose and throat release chemicals that spark the immune system; injured cells produce chemicals called prostaglandins, which trigger inflammation and attract infection-fighting white blood cells; tiny blood vessels stretch, allowing spaces to open up to allow blood fluid (plasma) and specialized white cells to enter the infected area; the body temperature rises, enhancing the immune response; and histamine is released, increasing the production of nasal mucus in an effort to trap viral particles and remove them from the body.
As the battle against the cold virus rages on, the body counterattacks with its heavy artillery specialized white blood cells called monocytes and lymphocytes; interferon, often called the "body's own antiviral drug"; and 20 or more proteins that circulate in the blood plasma and coat the viruses the and infected cells, making it easier for the white blood cells to identify and destroy them.
The symptoms you experience as a cold are actually the body's natural immune response. In fact, says Michael Castleman, author of Cold Cures, by the time you feel like you're coming down with a cold, you've likely already had it for a day and a half.
Many people believe the old adage, "Do nothing and your cold will last seven days. Do everything and it will last a week." While we may not be able to cure the common cold, the simple self-care techniques that follow can help you feel more comfortable and speed healing.

Drink plenty of fluids.
"Fluids keep the mucus thin," says Gilbert. Donald Girard, M.D., head of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, agrees. "Colds can make you somewhat dehydrated and you don't even know it," says Girard. Drink at least eight ounces of fluid every two hours.

Cook up some chicken soup.
One of the most beneficial hot fluids you can consume when you have a cold is chicken soup. It was first prescribed for the common cold by rabbi/physician Moses Maimonides in twelfth-century Egypt and has been a favorite folk
remedy ever since. In 1978, Marvin Sackner, M.D., of Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach, Florida, included chicken soup in a test of the effects of sipping hot and cold water on the clearance of mucus. Chicken soup placed first, hot water second, and cold water a distant third. Sackner's work has since been replicated by other researchers. While doctors aren't sure exactly chicken soup helps clear nasal passages, they "it's just what the doctor ordered."

Doctors disagree about whether or not you should take a day or two off from work when you come down with a cold. However, they do agree that extra rest helps. Staying away from the work site may be a good idea from a prevention standpoint, too. Your coworkers will probably appreciate your not spreading your cold virus around the office. If you do decide to stay home, forgo those chores and take it easy, read a good book, take a nap.
Girard adds that you should skip your normal exercise routine when you've got a cold. In fact, he says, if you're feeling pretty bad, you should just head for bed.

Stay warm.
"I usually recommend people stay indoors and stay warm when they have a cold" says Girard. If nothing else, staying warm may make you feel more comfortable, especially if you have a fever.

Use a saltwater wash.
The inflammation and swelling in the nose during a cold is caused by molecules called cytokines, or lymphokines, which are made by the lymphocytes, explains Stephen R. Jones, M.D., chief of medicine at Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. "Recent evidence has shown that if we can wash out those cytokines, it reduces the swelling and fluid production." Jones recommends filling a clean nasal-spray bottle with dilute salt water (one level teaspoon salt to one quart water) and spraying each nostril three or four times. Repeat five to six times per day.

Girard says gargling with warm salt water (a quarter teaspoon salt in four ounces warm water) every one to two hours can soothe your sore throat. "Salt water is an astringent that is very soothing to the inflamed tissues, and it tends to loosen mucus," he says.

Consider vitamin C.
Although studies suggest that vitamin C may boost the body's immune system, the use of this vitamin in treating colds is still controversial. Many physicians don't recommend vitamin C as a cold remedy. Others, including cold researcher Elliot Dick, Ph.D., chief of the Respiratory Virus Research Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have found that taking 2,000 milligrams or more of vitamin C daily can lessen the severity of cold symptoms.
If you do decide to try boosting your vitamin C intake during a cold, don't overdo it. While vitamin C has been found to be relatively safe at doses of up to 10,000 milligrams per day, some people find vitamin C causes diarrhea at or above the 10,000-milligram level. Perhaps the safest way to get more vitamin C is to choose vitamin C-rich foods more often. For example, since you'll need to increase your fluid intake while you have a cold, fill some of that requirement with orange juice.

Vaporize it.
The steam from a vaporizer can loosen mucus, especially if the sputum is thick, says Girard. It may also raise the humidity in the immediate area slightly, which may make you feel more comfortable.

Stop smoking.
"Smokers have colds longer in duration than nonsmokers," says Gilbert. "If you chronically irritate the bronchial tubes while you have a cold, you're more likely to develop a complication like pneumonia."
In addition to irritating the throat and bronchial tubes, smoking has been shown to depress the immune system. Since you have to depend on your own immune system rather than medicine to cure a cold, you'll want it to be in the best condition possible to wage the "cold" war.

Stay away from "hot toddies.
"While a hot alcoholic beverage might sound good when you're feeling achy and stuffy, Gilbert says it increases mucous membrane congestion. "If you want to minimize your discomfort," he says, "stay away from alcohol."

Maintain a positive attitude.
Although mind-body science is in its infancy, some researchers suggest that a positive I-can-beat-this-cold attitude may actually stimulate the immune system. "If you give up, so does your immune system," says Castleman. "Buoyancy and self-confidence help rev up the immune system or at least keep it from collapsing while it fights your cold."
Jones isn't as convinced about the connection between the mind and the immune system. He says the evidence directly linking one's thoughts with immunity is "interesting, but inconclusive." But, he admits, "a positive attitude is always best and certainly couldn't hurt your cold".

Don't Pass It On
Unfortunately; modern medicine hasn't invented cold vaccine that will protect us from becoming infected by the hundreds of cold viruses just waiting for an opportunity to take up residence and multiply As a result, getting at least one cold a year is "pretty inevitable," says Stephen R. Jones, M.D. But if you get a cold, you don't have to pass it on. By learning some simple techniques, you can keep your cold to yourself
Most authorities on the common cold are now convinced that cold viruses are passed in two ways-by direct contact and by viral-filled droplets from the nose being inhaled by others (the so-called "aerosol method"). The direct-contact method works something like this, says David N Gilbert, M. D.: "You get a virus in your nose, then blow your nose, which contaminates your fingers with the virus, and then you shake hands with someone. They touch their noses and get the cold."
Viruses can also live on inanimate objects such as telephones, doorknobs, and cloth handkerchiefs. But no one is really sure just how long they live. To avoid spreading your cold to others by direct contact, Gilbert advises washing your hands frequently and using paper tissues instead of a cloth handkerchief Be sure to dispose of the tissues promptly after use.
People can also get your cold by directly inhaling viral particles. While most of us feel uncomfortable around someone who is sneezing and coughing, the truth is that those symptoms are late-stage and usually come on when the person is least infectious. Most people spread their colds to others during the first few days when their throat feels sore and they're just coming down with a cold. To avoid giving your cold to others, you may want to stay away from coworkers and friends for a day or two during the onset of a cold. "Avoid crowded places if you can, and cover your nose when you cough or sneeze," says Jones.

Hello Doctor?
While most colds can be effectively treated at home, you should call your doctor if:
You have a headache and stiff neck with no other cold symptoms. (Your symptoms may indicate meningitis.)
You have a headache and sore throat with no other cold symptoms. (It may
be strep throat.)
You have cold symptoms and significant pain across your nose and face that doesn't go away. (You may have a sinus infection, which requires antibiotics.)
You have a fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit (adults), you've taken aspirin, and the fever isn't going down.
Your child has a fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your cold symptoms seem to be going away, but you suddenly develop a fever. (It may i e pneumonia which is more likely to set in toward the end of a cold).

What About
"Cold Medicines?"
When cold season arrives, doctors' offices fill up with people search ignore a "cold cure. Unfortunately, modern medicine doesn't have any medication that is effective against viruses, including the more than 100 viruses that can cause the common cold Antibiotics, such as penicillin, don't work against cold viruses. "The first thing you shouldn't do," says David N Gilbert, MD., "is go to the doctor's office and get a penicillin shot. They're ineffective, expensive, and they expose you to unnecessary side effects."
OK, if the doctor can't help, what about all those "cold remedies" touted on television and radio? Surely they must work.
Not really. Some cold experts believe that popular cold remedies may actually inhibit the body's immune responses as they suppress cold symptoms. All of your cold symptoms are part of your body's natural response in its battle against the viral invaders. To stop or suppress those responses may actually make your cold hang on longer.
For example, cold experts say a mild fever-below 102 degrees Fahrenheit-enhances the body's ability to fight the cold virus. Gilbert, therefore, suggests forgoing aspirin and acetaminophen to lower a mild fever. (If you're over 60, have heart disease, or have any immune-compromising health condition, however, contact your physician at the first sign of a fever.)
Another example of potentially counter-productive cold remedies is antihistamines, which are common ingredients in multisymptom cold formulas. Antihistamines stop the runny nose, but they may do more harm than good "Antihistamines dry up mucous membranes, which are already irritated," says Gilbert. "They thicken the nasal mucus so you feel like you need more decongestant, and they can cause an irritated cough."
One over-the-counter cold remedy that can bring symptomatic relief is pseudoephedrine, a decongestant ingredient found in products such as Sudafed, says Stephen K Jones, MD. "This ingredient effectively shuts down the swelling and fluid production and promotes drainage," he says. People who have high blood pressure or heart disease, however, should avoid this over-the-counter drug
Cough syrups that contain glyceryl guaiacolate (but not dextromethorphan) can help loosen thick sputum, making it easier to cough up, according to Donald Girard, M D.
If you think you need over-the-counter remedies to cope with your cold, most authorities recommend single-action remedies rather than the "shotgun" approach of multisymptom products. Most people get their cold symptoms serially-sore throat first, cough last. But multisymptorn cold remedies say they cure all your cold symptoms at once, even the ones you don't have. Why take drugs and risk their side effects when you don't need them?
"These multisymptom cold remedies don't really do anything," Jones says. "The reason people like the nighttime cold remedies is that many of them contain large amounts of alcohol. They 're expensive and ineffective. I tell my patients to avoid them."