How to Manage a Cold
With all you players going out and swapping saliva with random girls, your chances of getting sick rise dramatically. As I sit here getting over a cold, I thought it’d be helpful to explain how I manage colds.
There is the common cold, and there’s the flu. You can get vaccinated against the flu, but really what you’re getting is what manufacturers think the flu is gonna look like. The reason why this fucker hasn’t been eradicated is because it’s constantly mutating, so by the time it gets to the US it may or may not resemble the bug you got vaccinated against. The purpose of the shot is not to prevent getting the flu, but to reduce the severity when you do get it. The flu shot also doesn’t immunize you against the cold virus.
You can’t get a vaccine against the common cold, so you’re gonna have to deal with it when it hits. The best form of prevention is to be healthy and to be OCD about staying clean. That means not smoking, washing your hands before you eat, not rubbing your eyes or picking your nose, and eating well. It’d be nice to suggest people who are sick should stay home from work, since that would likely curtail the outbreak, but many people don’t have that luxury. Alas, the cold is the most common reason for lost time at work.
As for Echinacea and vitamin C, there’s not much hard evidence they shorten the duration of the cold or reduce its severity. In contrast, a recent study of zinc shows potential.
The FDA has put out a warning against zinc nasal spray possibly causing permanent loss of smell. Overall, there’s a lot of misleading marketing out there regarding holistic cures, and we’re not sure about all the possible side effects. So use at your own risk.
We don’t have any anti-viral medications for the cold. Antibiotics work against bacteria, but not against viruses. So don’t take antibiotics when you get a cold, since they won’t work and they may create resistance against those drugs if you ever take them again.
When I get a cold, usually the first signs are a sore throat and maybe some swelling of my lymph nodes in my neck. There are two meds you can take: acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Tylenol contains acetaminophen, and Advil/Motrin contains ibuprofen. They’re completely different drugs, and so you can take them at the same time. Tylenol reduces fever and pain but not inflammation. Ibuprofen reduces fever, pain and inflammation. Follow the dosing on the label, since if you take too much you’re gonna risk getting a bleeding stomach ulcer, kidney failure and liver failure (all rare if you stay at the recommended dose).
As the sore throat subsides, next comes the nasal crap. This may be a runny nose, a stuffed up nose and sneezing. For this I like to use decongestant nasal sprays like Afrin. It’s a great spray, but if you use too much of it, you’ll get a rebound effect, meaning an increase of nasal symptoms. Typically I try to stick with twice a day, but I’ll sneak a spray in as needed so I can work or sleep. I’ll use one puff first, and if that doesn’t do it, then two, and I only spray the side that’s effected. You’re not supposed to use the spray more than a few days, but since I am so cautious with it, I can get by with five days. The benefit of the spray if used correctly is you can avoid the side effects of cold medicine while specifically targeting the nasal symptoms.
OK, oral drugs. People think syrups coat the throat, and so cough medications are often sold as syrups. This is a load of horse crap (the drugs only work once they get into your blood via the stomach), but you can’t fight public perception. Examples include DayQuil and NyQuil.
The junk in your nose leaks back to your airway and causes post-nasal drip. Coughing results from this and infection of the airway. To suppress the cough, we take a morphine derivate like dextromethorphan (e.g. Robitussin). Morphine is a great cough suppressant, and dextromethorphan is a non-addictive version of it. If the cough gets worse, lasts more than a few days or you bring up blood or green junk, then go see a doctor. You could have bronchitis or pneumonia.
Dextromethorphan is usually combined with other drugs. DayQuil contains dextromethorphan, acetaminophen and phenylephrine (a decongestant to clear up your nasal crap). Phenylephrine has taken the place of pseudoephedrine, which was being bought to cook up crystal meth. It can make your blood pressure rise and give you a buzz so don’t overdo it.
NyQuil is like DayQuil, but they put in an antihistamine to knock your ass out. I’m not a big fan of antihistamines during a cold (although they work for allergies) since they dry out your nasal lining, making it harder to get all the crap out.
Overall, I use oral medications as a last resort if the spray isn’t cutting it. Always drink fluids, get rest and eat well during a cold. And try to stay away from other people if you possibly can, so you don’t contribute to the outbreak.
If your cold lasts more than a week or you start bringing up green shit, then likely what you have is a bacterial superinfection. Which means it’s not viral anymore; some bacteria have set up shop and now you need antibiotics. Don’t be such a hero, go get help.
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About Dr. Evan Marlowe Evan Marlow is the dean and founder of Man School. You can visit at Manschool.cc