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Ways to recover from a cold quickly

Published November 24. 2012 09:02AM

Depending on your degree of superstition, you'd say my dad jinxed me. Or, depending on your definition of a cold, you'd say he hadn't and that my streak is still intact.

Either way, the story behind all this says something about how you can positively affect your health, so I'll use this week's column to share it with you.

I visited my father on the first day of fall. I told him he was sounding and looking much better after a protracted battle with a cold. He nodded and said, "You're lucky. I can't remember the last time you were sick."

I couldn't either, so I consulted my old training journals. With the Monday and Tuesday workouts from the first week in May in 2008, it's noted that I took the homeopathic remedy Cold Calm four times each day.

Does that product ever work for me. If I take it at the onset of the cold symptoms, it turns two potential weeks of sickness into two days and allows me not to miss work or a single workout.

In fact, the note with Tuesday's workout is "really productive, considering how full of stuff my head was last night."

What does happen is that I have a ton of nasal discharge and sinus pain for a day or two, sound hoarse, and sometimes lose my voice, but that's a trade I willingly make since many people feel the effects of a cold much longer.

That night after our discussion, I awoke with the type of tickle in my throat that signals the start of a sickness. I was out of Cold Calm, but my father had COLD EEZE, zinc lozenges designed to reduce the severity of a cold that can be taken every hour if needed.

So that's what I did for the next eight hours, including the three when I was riding my bike. I didn't ride as long as usual for a Sunday, I didn't ride as hard, but I'm a firm believer in exercise aiding the battle your immune system wages on viruses and germs, so I rode. In fact, I felt so good that afternoon, I thought that maybe the tickle was a false alarm, that maybe the nasal and sinus congestion would never come.

I was wrong.

I awoke a number of times that night breathing through my mouth because my nose was stuffed. A bit a Vicks Vapor Rub under the nostrils alleviated that and allowed me to sleep most of that night, but I felt bad the next morning.

Besides more nasal congestion, there was a tightness at my temples that someone else might call pain. It got worse if I turned my head.

I really didn't feel like lifting weights, but previous experience had proven that making the body work quickened recovery, so I soldiered on.

I didn't have a particularly good workout, but after a steaming shower my nostrils cleared. I felt no ill effects that morning while I taught in school, but by the last period class my voice had turned into a deep, raspy croak.

I sounded really sick.

At least that's what my students and a few of my colleagues told me. But I really didn't feel too bad. I made sure I got to bed early that night, worked out normally the next morning, and felt pretty close to normal in school Tuesday morning.

My voice, however, still sounded as bad as before.

By Wednesday, my deeper-than-normal voice and the need to occasionally wipe my runny nose were the only reminders of the cold that should have still been making me feel tired and run down.

This story is significant for a number of reasons.

Some people really don't believe they can have a positive effect on their health once they get sick. I'd like to think this story about contracting a cold proves otherwise.

Let me retract part of that last statement.

Because it had so little effect on me, what started on the first day of fall I don't even consider a cold. If the sickness doesn't cause me to miss work or a workout, in my ledger it doesn't count.

A cold, in the cynical words of C.C. Furnas is "an ailment cured in two weeks with a doctor's care, and in 14 days without it."

I haven't had anything that fits that definition since the second week of January of 12 years ago, a sickness that I honestly believe resulted from the guilt I felt for taking a half-year sabbatical from teaching and leaving a great group of kids. But I digress.

Another point that needs to be stressed is how the things that constitute your daily routine combat colds as much as those two homeopathic products that work so well for me, Cold Calm and COLD EEZE.

For instance, I make getting the proper amount of sleep a priority. Not only does this allow me to recover quicker from workouts that make me a bit more susceptible to disease, but it also helps my immune system battle all the germs I'm exposed to on my job.

Just think, after all, of all the potential germs in one class's set of homework papers and of how many kids cough and sneeze near me sometimes on me during the cold-and-flu season.

And don't forget that eating nearly four pounds of vegetables as well as 16 ounces of fat-free yogurt and drinking four cups of green tea each day keeps my body system swimming in the antioxidants that allow my immune system to function optimally.

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