Protect yourself and others when sneezing.

How effective have you been in treating the symptoms of a common cold? There are several causes of the common cold. There seems to be more and more solutions/medications to treat it. It is best to treat any disease on the front end. However, we don’t always do what is best for us. We wait and hope for the best. According to Henrietta Lange (Supervisor on the television show NCIS LA), “Hope is not a plan.”

What is a good plan? Our immune system is our bottom-line of defense against bacteria or viruses. We must boost our immune system as much as possible to fight these invading bugs. When our immune system is working well, we may never know we even fought a battle against them. However, when our immune system is weakened, our lives can become very chaotic. That is why cold weather is enough to bring on a cold in some people.

Our gut is about 80% of our immune system. We should start there to give it strength and endurance. IgA (immunoglobulin A) is an antibody protecting our upper respiratory tract. If IgA is diminished, we can expect cold-like symptoms to start. To improve weakened IgA, researchers have found success by creating a cocktail of probiotic strains of L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, and B. lactis.

What is a common cold? It is an infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is not cold weather or being chilled that causes a cold. There are over 200 viruses that cause the common cold. We breathe in viral particles from an infected person’s sneeze, cough, speech, or by touching contaminated surfaces the infected person has touched a moment before. Doorknobs and handshakes are the most common connectors to catch that person’s cold. Some viruses can remain alive on a hard surface for three hours.

There are five primary classifications of viruses that produce the common cold. Human rhinoviruses (HRV), coronaviruses, parainfluenza viruses (HPIV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and adenoviruses. Not every virus responds the same to treatment.

Why do we get colds in the wintertime? The new school year starts, and kids can catch a cold at school and bring it home to share with the rest of the family. We remain indoors more. The air is dryer, which dries our nasal passages and makes them more susceptible to cold viruses. The lower humidity levels of wintertime allow cold viruses a higher chance of survival.

HRVs comprise over 100 varieties. It is the most common source of the common cold. HRVs are contagious and challenge our immune systems. The internal temperature of our noses makes an ideal breeding ground for HRVs.

Coronaviruses typically affect animals. Six known varieties also affect humans. SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) is the most well known for the 2013 epidemic in China killed almost 800 people. There is a modern 2019 version active today. China reported this week that they have tightened restrictions on travel to Wuhan, China, because of influenza (not common cold). Flu virus symptoms are similar to the common cold.

The other three classes of viruses are weak in adults and can be devastating to young children because they attack the lower respiratory system. Those with asthma, lung, and heart conditions are most at risk. Many of us have heard the term, croup. HPIV-1 causes croup in children.

Most of the time, the common cold will be over in ten days, plus or minus three days. Consult your physician if your cold lasts more than two weeks. You should also seek medical care if you have a fever higher than 101.3 degrees F. Children should be taken to the doctor if their fevers are consistently over 100.4 degrees F. Trouble breathing, sinus pain and headaches are other symptoms to be aware of.

I am not a doctor and cannot recommend treatments for any medical condition. Most people take over-the-counter cold medicines, pain relievers, cough suppressants, and decongestants. Typical home remedies often involve chicken soup, gargling with warm salt water, and cough drops. Echinacea, zinc lozenges combined with vitamin C, works for some to relieve symptoms. Humidity control might be a help for those living in very dry climates.

The September 2017 edition of Life Extension magazine (available online at has a lot of information for those seeking better treatments. Their article focuses on increasing your body’s IgA (immune globulin A). Immune globulins act as antibodies against infection. I am an advocate of keeping your body’s immune system fully functioning to fight any new strangers in your body.

Life Extension studies found success with the common cold by adding probiotic strain B, subtilis CU1. Additionally, allicin garlic and aged garlic extract have been effective in suppressing the common cold symptoms.

Additional testing was done adding another probiotic strain (B. subtilis CU1). Again, increases in IgA, along with a reduction in symptoms resulted. Probiotics help our immune systems fight colds and flu more effectively.

Lactoferrin is a natural component of mother’s milk. It enhances the production of natural killer cells. Tests show high effectiveness against certain viruses. Zinc has long been known to reduce the symptoms of colds. Zinc acetate appears to work the best.

Our immune systems need continual attention. Yet, we don’t rely on it for the protection it can give us. A probiotic cocktail keeps our gut in optimal working order. A good gut yields a strong and healthy immune system.

Please don’t start adding new treatments, especially over the counter drugs, to treat yourself if you are under a doctor’s care. You should always consult your physician before beginning any self-medication program. The list of items above is worth discussing with your doctor to maximize your resistance to colds/flu and minimize your days under its spell.

The bottom-line defense against the common cold is your immune system. Take care of it and treat it right every day of your life, and you will be a happy camper.

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