Cold and flu remedies for winter semester

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It feels like little green fat men are living in your nose, chest and throat. They make it so you’re tired, you hurt all over, you sneeze, and cough every 30 seconds and generally feel miserable. Yes, the germs and viruses attacking your body right now may be that of the common cold or the flu.

There are simply too few benefits to being sick, since the only good thing about being sick is the opportunity to sit in bed and watch daytime TV instead of going to class. Eastern Michigan University has a strict policy about not missing more than four days of any class. With that in mind, there is simply too much risk in allowing your body to get sick.

Staying healthy during a Michigan winter can be difficult. On the one hand, if you stay cooped up inside with your family or roommates, all the germs are more likely to spread quickly. On the other hand, according to Cracked.com’s “5 Old Wives’ Tales About Health (Confirmed by Science),” there was a study done by Cardiff University regarding winter weather. The study stated that being exposed to cold weather, “Shuts off the warm blood that supplies the white cells that fight infection.”

There are a couple of solutions to meet the happy medium of keeping you healthy these winter months. For instance, keep an eye on the weather and make sure you dress appropriately. Understandably, while North Face fleece is warm, you might want to consider that marshmallow-like winter coat that your grandmother gave you. Yeah, it’s not as cute, but the goal is to stay as warm as you can outside in order to keep up your white blood cell count.

Even when you’re inside, it’s important to keep warm—a great excuse for hot chocolate. WebMD states, “That heat can help loosen up the mucus and make it easier to cough out.” If hot chocolate isn’t your thing, you may want to try the classic tea with honey. In a study by Ian M. Paul, M.D. of Pennsylvania State University, children who took honey, on average, felt better more quickly than children taking cold medicines when sick.

Another liquid that’s a classic when you’re feeling under the weather is chicken noodle soup. Your mom was one to shove bowl after bowl in front of you when you were a kid, and she had good reasons for that. Cracked.com said in the article mentioned above that, “Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis, giving it anti-inflammatory properties that could help relieve the symptoms associated with upper respiratory infections.” The classic is helpful because it supports chest decongestion, allowing for easier breathing.

Even with all of the home remedies available to you, there’s always the question of whether they’re enough. When balancing school, work, family and friends, the idea of taking a shot and continuing life as usual sounds a lot better than focusing on staying healthy the old fashion way. It takes a lot of discipline to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, dress warmly and stay hydrated.

In her article, “The Truth About the Flu Shot” on DrTenpenny.com, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny said, “Vaccination of healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza by 6 percent and reduced the number of missed work days by less than one (0.16) days.”

That’s not to say that taking the flu vaccine is a bad idea. While taking the vaccine doesn’t make up for minimal self-care, it cannot hurt to take the flu vaccine.

If you are interested, EMU will be providing flu vaccines on campus Jan. 24 from 4-6 p.m. in room 103 of Snow Health Center.

Regardless of whether you choose medicine, home remedies or a combination, it’s important to listen to your body. When your body is telling you it’s tired, nauseous or if you feel “ucky,” listen and do what you can.

It’s a lot better to go to bed early or take off one day of work to focus on feeling better than to lose a week or two later on. The whole point is to avoid letting those little green men kick your butt this year.


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