Good Health and Bad Medicine:
Colds - Part 1
Colds - Part 2
Colds - Part 3
Mouth Washes And Bad Breath
Sinuses And Sinusitis
Asthma And Hay Fever
Read More Articles About: Good Health and Bad Medicine
Colds - Part 3
( Originally Published 1940 )
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO DO
The distressing fact that no means is now known by which colds can be either prevented or cured does not mean that colds should be ignored. Aside from the local discomfort of a stuffy nose, a cold is a potentially serious ailment, capable of causing many complications.
The time-honored treatment of rest at home during the first day of a cold is still the most effective way known to medical science of shortening the duration of a cold and of preventing complications. If there is fever, rest in bed is imperative, for the cold may actually be the first stage of a more serious infection (about 40 per cent of all pneumonia cases begin with an everyday, commonplace cold).
If rest at home is desirable for the average person, it is absolutely imperative for children or for adults suffering from chronic ailments such as diabetes, rheumatism, "bronchitis" or asthma. In such cases, a physician should be called, since his advice may make the difference between a short, acute infection lasting a few days, and a prolonged, complicated, serious infection lasting weeks or months.
If the "cold" is accompanied by fever above 102°, by pain in the chest, a cough or exhaustion, a physician should certainly be called. These symptoms may indicate a serious ailment in which immediate diagnosis is imperative.
A cold accompanied by achy joints or muscles and slight fever is probably an attack of grippe or influenza. The achy feeling may be relieved by one or two aspirin tablets every three or four hours. A laxative is more likely to upset the digestive tract than to give any relief.
A hot bath or hot footbath and a couple of glasses of hot lemonade or tea with or without a shot of whiskey do no more than induce perspiration and promote a temporary feeling of warmth and comfort. If you follow such a ritual, be sure to go to bed immediately afterward.
There is no evidence that drinking large quantities of water or fruit juices is of any value unless there is fever.
Diet should be light and varied, and that's about all that can be said. The dietary treatment of infants or young children suffering from colds should, if possible, be placed in the hands of a physician. Colds in young children are more serious than in adults and should always be treated by a physician; improperly treated, they too often lead to ear infections and other ailments.
The most annoying part of a "cold" is usually the stuffiness of the nose. As a rule, a thin watery discharge accompanies the stuffiness. The most effective treatment at this stage is simply to wipe the discharge as it drains from the nostrils. Blowing the nose vigorously in an attempt to clear the passages is futile. This procedure merely irritates the mucous membrane of the nose and increases the discharge and stuffiness. Experience will convince anyone that if the nose is simply wiped and not blown, the duration of the stuffiness will be reduced. Blowing, moreover, increases the likelihood of ear and sinus complications.
When the watery discharge has ceased, or if there is simply stuffiness, a normal salt solution of ephedrine or neo-synephrin may be instilled. Two or three drops every two or three hours is sufficient. Jellies are not as desirable as solutions. They encourage a tendency to sniff too vigorously. Inhaladons from a Benzedrine inhaler may be tried, but directions on the tube should be scrupulously followed so as to avoid unfavorable reactions.
During the later stages of a cold, when the thick discharge appears, the best procedure is to blow your nose gently. Don't try to imitate a fog horn. Doing so encourages more secretion and may spread the infection to the ears and sinuses. It is also unwise to irrigate the nose or to snuff up water, boric acid solution or so-called antiseptics. The nose will clean itself in time if the mucous membrane is not abused.
A child who has a sore throat should, whenever possible, be attended by a physician, since the soreness may be caused by a serious infection, such as diphtheria, scarlet fever or rheumatic fever.
An inflamed sore throat at any age is a symptom of an acute infection and an acute infection must always be treated by rest in bed, especially if there is fever. The pain of an inflamed throat can be relieved considerably by hot drinks every hour or so. Any hot fluid that is palatable should be used—milk, tea, cocoa, chocolate, lemonade—as long as it is hot. Butter or honey may be added to the fluid if desired. An ice collar or cold wet compress may be kept around the neck for periods of half an hour, with a half-hour of rest between each application.
A hot salt-water gargle (1/2 teaspoonful of salt to one glass of hot water) every hour or so may also give comfort, especially if there is much mucus.
As a rule gargling is of little help, since the fluid usually does not reach the inflamed areas behind the pillars of the tonsils. In order for a gargle to be effective, the patient should almost swallow the solution and then expel it by a forward movement of the head just before it is swallowed. During an acute infection this is a very tiring business, and because of its relatively slight effectiveness, may well be omitted altogether.
Lozenges containing anesthetic drugs may relieve some of the soreness. About one every two or three hours is sufficient. Anesthesin and Thantus lozenges are suitable.
Swabbing of the throat with argyrol or similar preparations should be avoided. They rarely relieve and never cure a sore throat. Inexpert swabbing will simply cause a spreading of the infection. Inflamed tissue requires rest, not punishment. This injunction applies not only to the inflamed area itself but also to the entire body, since it is the body that will furnish the means for overcoming the infection. Therefore a good rule for the treatment of any acute infection, whether of nose, throat or elsewhere, is rest in bed.
(For temporary relief of nasal congestion)
Neo-Synephrin Solution 1/4% Benzedrine Inhaler Ephedrine Solution 1%
The products listed below are a few of the better-known ones offered for the treatment of colds. They are rated "Not Acceptable" on the basis of their advertising claims, which are misleading, and their effectiveness in curing or preventing a cold, which is nil.