Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Braving a Cold on a Budget

You don't have to break the bank to fight a cold.
Photo by David Castillo

I have a nasty cold this week.  It is kicking my butt left, right and sideways.  I raided the medicine cabinet and tracked down some pseudoephedrine that hadn't expired yet and I'm dosing myself up with that so I can keep going and get some work done today.  It looks like Gav might have caught it, as well.

I thought I'd look into some cheap and even free ways to treat a cold.

Obviously, medicine you already have on hand is a good bet.  Check the expiration date, though.  People tend to stash remedies, even if they don't need them for a long period of time.  That Nyquil with an expiration date from three years ago might only make you sicker.  Don't take a chance.

Don't buy name brand medications.  Seriously.  It's a waste of money.  I worked in pharmacy for nearly 10 years.  I can promise you that the generic has the exact same amount of medication in the exact same delivery system.  It's required by law.  If you think the brand name "works better" it's entirely in your head.  There's even a name for this -- it's called the placebo effect.  If you need to hit the store for cold remedies, go ahead and buy the store brand.  It's usually less than half the cost of the name brand.

Need to treat your cold without spending any money at all?  Try some of these ideas:

  • Breathe in steam.  Heat up some water and add some chopped ginger or eucalyptus oil.  Drape a towel over your head and breathe in the steam.  This will help loosen congestion and unclog your airways.
  • Take a hot shower.  The warm, steamy air will work just like the steam treatment above.  Plus, the warm water will help ease your body aches.  If you have a fever and have been sweating, it will feel great to rinse away that grimy feeling.
  • Drink lots of fluids.  At least eight cups of water daily.  Try drinking hot tea for the steam effect.  Plus, many types of herbal teas work as cold remedies as well, like ginger, thyme and fenugreek.
  • Saline irrigation.  An irrigation or neti-pot can help get clogged mucus out of your sinuses and prevent a cold from turning into a nasty sinus infection.
  • Get some rest.  Don't try to function on all cylinders.  Your body needs some time to recuperate.  Get to bed early.  Take a sick day and chill out on the couch.  
Hopefully you'll be back up to snuff soon.  If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go hit the showers.

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