With the winter season coming, the early stages of season-long colds are upon students.
It begins with an itchy throat and sinus problems. If ignored, the symptoms grow worse over the next few days, adding in a low fever, runny nose and chills. At this point, a cold is unavoidable. No amount of medication will kill it, John Brown University nurse Rhonda Hostler said.
Hostler said college students are especially prone to colds. “You have this great wall protecting you. But then you start adding on stress, not getting enough sleep and not eating right. The immune system comes down, and that’s when the cold jumps on you.”
The only thing that is going to kill a cold is the body. Clear liquids, healthy food, and plenty of sleep are Hostler’s recommendations.
“A cold is a virus, and there are thousands upon thousands of colds. Viruses are opportunistic. They just hang around us and when our immune systems start dropping, that’s when they jump in on us,” said Hostler. She emphasized that unlike flus, where a student only has to breathe the same air as someone contagious, the cold requires direct contact with mucus or saliva from the body.
“When someone coughs or sneezes without covering their nose or mouth, they spray those germs all around that may come in contact with you by touching something with those germs or even just breathing them in,” said Hostler.
Once someone has come in contact with a cold, they have it on them. It will attach itself to the lining of the nose and the throat, and in response, the body will try to protect itself by swelling up and secreting lots of mucus to try and wash it away. This is where the scratchy throat and sinus problems come into play. Hostler recommends to immediately begin gargling with warm salt water, and taking ibuprofen and Tylenol to relieve the pain.
“What I tell people is in order to get yourself feeling better, your body just has to fight this. There is no magic pill to get rid of the virus. How your body fights this is with good food, clear liquids, and plenty of sleep. You can take over the counter medications, but that won’t kill the virus.”
Some are looking for alternative remedies for colds. One Hostler suggested is the Neti pot. This is a nasal saline irrigation therapy that uses a salt and water solution to flush out the nasal passages.
The Neti pot is a ceramic or plastic pot that has been used for centuries. Hostler says this is a great way to relieve some of that sinus pressure, but emphasized again that only giving your body the right nutrition and sleep will kill your cold.
“Only your body will do that, but the remedies can help ease the symptoms, and if that’s what works for you, makes you feel more comfortable perhaps, then I see no problem with it.”