Sorry kids, no fun stuff to chat about in the embroidery design break room this week. I’m starting out the fall season with a sinus infection – not that I planned it that way, but I always plan for it. You see, I love where I live, but it doesn’t love me. I don’t know exactly what triggers my allergies this time of year in the Upper Midwest, but when the leaves start to turn, there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to stop the watery eyes and runny nose. I try to ignore it, believing that an allergy is not an illness, but then my sinuses rebel and infection wins. I’ve been staying indoors away from whatever that villain is out there, while snuggled up with Mr. Honey Bear, a box of tissues and a pot of tea, trying to get all the leaks dried up.
No need to fret, I’m definitely on the mend and will be back at work in the morning! To speed the healing process, I’ve been searching the web for any home remedy I haven’t yet tried, and because the symptoms are similar, Google has suggested a few tips for the common cold. I’m finding a lot of information that contradicts what I had learned at an early age and evidently didn’t have to, like “Put on a jacket or you’ll catch your death!” And there are a few facts about a cold that are a bit bizarre. So, for lack of anything else on my mind at the present moment, and because no matter where one lives, sneezing happens, allow me to share ten odd but interesting facts about the common cold.
- Colds are caused by one of multiple viruses: If the allergies don’t get me, something out there will. According to MedicineNet.com, “More than 200 different types of viruses are known to cause the common cold, with rhinovirus causing approximately 30%-35% of all adult colds. Other commonly implicated viruses include coronavirus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza virus.” Most folks just don’t have a chance against this incredible army, so it’s just best to focus on preventative actions and be prepared with a few good remedies.
- Cold germs can lurk for days: As reported in the article “The Cold Facts” about 40% of all colds are caught by touching common items like refrigerator door handles up to 48 hours after the rhinovirus lands there. Just imagine all of the creatures that must be lurking on Walmart door handles! Not that I suffer from germaphobia, but I seriously think it’s time to bring white gloves back in style; perhaps, pop them up to date, making one finger and thumb tipless for easy gadget mobility.
- Colds require immediate attention: Waiting a cold out thinking that it will go away in seven days might work for some people, but do nothing and neglect rest, you risk reinfection for another seven days or more, which could then bring on nasties like ear infections, bronchitis or sinusitis, per MPR News – Common Cold Fact or Myth. Yeah, that would be my downfall. Sometimes being self-employed sucks.
- Pasta is on the remedy list: Health.com recommends Immunity Boosters: Chicken Soup and Other Healing Foods. There really is a lot of help found in foods like good ol’ chicken soup that contains a mucus-thinning amino acid called cysteine, but any soup is helpful because it’s hot and will help break up congestion. Yogurt, bitter greens and pasta are others that make the list; though I suspect the recommended pasta might have something to do with its “comfort food factor”, and likely the real help comes from the mega-amount of garlic this article suggests to include in the pasta sauce. I once ate a tablespoon of minced garlic to fend off a cold. It worked – I think – or else, I was simply distracted by the burning explosion in my stomach.
- Colds are kissable: This article at LiveScience.com says, “Cold viruses love eyes and noses but rarely leap mouth to mouth…” Yeah, just try to convince my husband to give me a smooch! Whenever he sees my puffy eyes and red nose he retreats to the man cave. He’s a good husband. He knows I need my space. And he’s afraid of the witchy woman that appears when the sneezing begins.
- A cold can make you fat: A study of Obesity in Children revealed the cause may be “an infectious disease transmitted by a common cold virus.” Great! I now have another excuse for being a chunky child. It certainly couldn’t have anything to do with all the cookies I devour to make me feel happier, just as I’ve done in the last couple of days, nearly polishing off an entire gift basket of Mrs. Field’s Cookies. It’s okay. Cinnamon has healing properties.
- Colds like it hot and wet: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says, “Rhinoviruses grow best at temperatures of about 91ºF, the temperature inside the human nose.” But sticking an ice chip in your nose immediately after intercepting someone’s sneeze likely won’t help because “Seasonal changes in relative humidity also may affect the occurrence of colds.”
- Colds pick on workaholics, especially those who are burnt out: According to WebMD.com “… you are more likely to catch a common cold if you are excessively fatigued (and) have emotional distress ….” – just another good reason to slow that work wheel down or a cold will do it for you.
- Colds do not require a weakened immune system: CommonCold.org claims, “Healthy people with normal immune systems are highly susceptible to cold virus infection once the virus enters the nose.” So, evidently an apple a day isn’t always the answer, but I’ll choose to ignore this fact. Otherwise, what am I to do with all my bottles of Echinacea, Vitamin C and Zinc?
- Colds can make you friendly: This one really cracks me up, though it’s oddly believable. Science reporter Brad Hader is quoted in a health blog as saying, “Cold viruses, for instance, were recently found to make people friendlier, especially during the period before symptoms appear but when the soon-to-be-sick person is highly infectious to others.” My guess is it’s a strategy of the virus, manipulating its way into another’s nose. As well, maybe that’s why I’m such a snarly sourpuss when the drips begin – just when I start to feel cheery, it’s gone in a sneeze.
Alas, there seems to be hope for my allergy-triggered sinus infection, as well as for similar afflictions like colds and flue. While watching Dr. Oz, (seemed appropriate today) I learned that Echinacea is not as helpful as once thought for colds and flue, and instead he suggested a proven new kid on the American block called Umckaloabo, an African plant that stimulates the immune system, and it even prevents the spread and growth of infection. Guess I’ll be doing a little shopping online later, far away from multiple viruses lurking on shopping baskets and door handles. But first, I think I’ll sit back and enjoy the last of the cookies and a nice, hot cup of honey-laced tea.