So here we are, one month into cold and flu season. If you’re the parent of kids in school, you’ve all heard it. “I have a sore throat” and the sound of an awful, hacking cough. Or maybe you’re a grandma who babysits and loves the little’uns and now it’s you with the sore throat and the awful hacking cough.
And I’m pretty sure, you’ve also noticed how the minute our days get noticeably shorter, voila, like magic, flu season starts. The other thing that coincides with the days getting shorter is that we’re outside less and we start covering up more to keep warm. All of that means that you aren’t getting the sunshine vitamin (also known as Vitamin D), that you were getting in summer. So here’s the rule: out in the sunshine and no flu…..but now no sunshine and you’ve got the flu.
Hmmm, am I noticing a theme that might lead me to a conclusion? Oh yeah, eat lots of healthy foods and don’t forget to take your Vitamin D. In case you’re curious about some of the benefits of Vitamin D, you can check them out on a post called 4 Recommended Daily Vitamin Supplements: Completes Your Plant Based Diet.
Unfortunately, even if you eat the right foods, take your vitamins, even when you do it all, sometimes you still feel the beginnings of a sore throat….and it only gets worse from there.
Cold and Flu Symptoms
So what are the symptoms of cold and flu? Do they share any common symptoms or are they really different?
Symptoms Cold Flu
fatigue mild tiredness severe fatigue
chills — shaking chills
fever — moderate to high
nausea/vomiting — most common in kids
speed it overtakes comes on gradually comes on quick and severe
time of occurrence any time of year usually only in fall or winter
Is there anything I can do when it starts to feel like tiny men with garden rakes are busy in my throat? What do I do for the cold that’s a symptom of?
Both illnesses are caused by a virus, but the treatment for each is different in the sense of their potential outcome.
Antibiotics aren’t going to help with either of them. But you can pick up the usual over the counter medications like antihistamines, decongestants, acetaminophen, etc. Those and drinking lots of water so that you don’t get dehydrated from all the coughing and sneezing that you’re going to be doing, will help you manage some of the symptoms.
You could also try adding some natural remedies to your routine. Extra Vitamin C, Zinc or some folks use echinacea. I’ve never tried the echinacea so can’t say much on that score. But I’ve often added a zinc tablet a day while I was sick. It’s hard to know if it specifically helped anything. But there have been a few studies on whether or not zinc helps when you have a cold and there seems a possibility that it shortens the duration. And even if that’s all you get, it’s better than nothing right?
Seasonal Flu is much more serious!
Now seasonal flu on the other hand usually shows up in the fall and through the winter and lasts until the days start getting longer in May. It’s spread the same way as a cold, but it’s a much more serious disease. It can develop into pneumonia, especially in young children, older adults, pregnant women or anyone with an already weakened immune system.
What to do for Flu.
Best ways to treat: fluids and rest. Pain relievers like acetominphan or ibuprofen. (although never give aspirin to kids. A serious condition called Reye’s Syndrome can happen.
If you really feel awful and can drag yourself in to the doctors office, she could prescribe one of several antiviral meds if you can take them within 48 hours of getting sick. They only shorten the duration of the flu but they also help prevent pneumonia.
Some of us are strong enough to weather the storm, but others aren’t. If you’re in one of the risk groups, you should be seeing your doctor as soon as you notice your first symptoms.
Risk Groups who should see the doctor right away if you feel flu symptoms.
People older than 50
Children younger than 2
Anyone with a weakened immune system. Think HIV, chemo patient, etc.
People with lung or heart problems or diabetes or kidney disease,
The good folks who live in long term senior’s residences.
But what do I do for my sore throat! That’s what I need to know!
Alrighty, now that we’ve looked at some of the general information about colds and flu, I want to get specific about one symptom in particular. When you have a sore throat and it’s feeling raw and it hurts to swallow, how can you help yourself to feel better? Well strange as this is going to sound, massage can help.
No, you don’t have to book an hour at $100 with the chatty masseuse in the clinic. Saved you from that expense! Nope, all you need is some kind of heavy moisturizer or a bit of olive oil from the kitchen and then sit and massage your throat for about 15 minutes while you watch tv. That’s it. Super easy, at your fingertips (literally), no added expense and super effective! But there is a technique and I’ll walk you through it.
How can massage help a sore throat? Sounds kind of weird doesn’t it?
I used to be a massage therapist for horses (in another lifetime) so I learned a little bit about muscles and circulation and inflammation and pain, during that period. In thinking about the sore throat question, ‘why does massage help the pain of a sore throat?’, here’s what I’m considering as the reason it works. When tissue is infected, it becomes inflamed. Inflamed means the body sends fluids there with little ‘soldier cells’, whose job it is to fight the bacteria that is there. With the added fluids(inflammation), there is added pressure on the blood vessels and cells and the nerves. I think the result is the pain you feel. It’s like if I grabbed your arm and squeezed as hard as I can, it would hurt because I’m putting ‘excess pressure’ on your arm.
Waking up your circulation brings healing in its wake.
But when you gently massage inflamed tissue, you’re in effect, waking up your circulation. That massage is gently pushing out the excess fluids and moving them on to be flushed via your liver or kidneys or whichever organ it is that does that. As the excessive fluids are pushed out of the infected area, it opens up room to bring in fresh oxygen and healthy blood. Because you’ve reduced the pressure from the excessive fluids on those infected areas, your pain is reduced.
Now unfortunately for your story and mine whenever I’ve had to use the method, it doesn’t cure your flu or cold. You’re still going to have to go through the stages of infection and recovery. BUT this is one of the best methods I’ve discovered, of managing the pain of a sore throat, in the moment. You may have to do it several times a day during the worst of your symptoms, but so what? It works like nothing else does. I think it could even help you put off having to take painkillers. So it’s free AND it works AND fewer drugs involved! What’s not to love!
Why massage works as a sore throat pain management method.
Our throats have a lot of glands in them and when bacteria set up residence anywhere in you, those glands go into overdrive. They begin producing so many of the little germ fighting cells that you get swollen glands as well. And those swollen glands cause the sore throat that is such a pain to us. So your gentle strokes are helping to move the excessive amounts of lymphocytes (germ fighters) out of those glands and to be subsequently flushed via the blood vessels that you’re also massaging and clearing. I’ve used this many times and it really does work. It’ll at least give you relief from the pain for an hour or two before a gradual buildup begins to recreate the pressure. And you get to do it all over again lucky you!
So now, for the method to treat sore throat pain!
Using either a bit of olive oil or a thicker type skin moisturizer, slather a light coat on, from collar bones all the way up to your jawline.
Placing your fingertips just under the jaw bones on either side, gently stroked downwards all the way to the collarbones.
Repeat that process for the next 15 minutes (I do it while I’m watching tv).
Keep your touch gentle as you don’t want to pull your skin. You’re just giving those glands a little squeeze so light pressure.
When you’re done, I think you’ll find that your throat doesn’t hurt as much, your skin feels silky and you’ll be more relaxed from the break. Yay, you got to sit down!
(Oh my goodness, the pouty face! Oh well, ignore that, I never said that I was a natural on camera. I do perk up in the rest of it.) So do that, but for about 15 minutes while you sit and take in the news or something. I guarantee, it helps.
I hope you’ve found this interesting although I hope you won’t have to test it to see if it works. But if it does, if you do find yourself swallowing carefully because of your sore throat, just give it a try. And then come back and let me know what you think. In the meantime, be safe, be kind and enjoy your day wherever you are!
As always, I will remind you that I’m not a medical doctor. However I’ve spent the last 20 years focusing on and learning to ‘grow’ my own health. And that’s what I’m sharing here. All of it based on my own experiences and also the things that I’ve learned from the real experts! Those are the researchers and doctors who’ve seen the actual patients, worked in the labs and write the medical reports and articles that are sprinkled throughout these posts.
I’ll mostly be chatting about food and nutrition and things like that I think. Although I might even share a thought or two on the random things of life that drive us all nuts. Or maybe I’ll offer up something to lighten the load that just living, can lay across our shoulders.
But always, always, always with a very important goal to motivate and help you find your best way to live a healthier and more peaceful life. Having said that, I also suggest strongly that you talk over any changes in your health routines, with your doctor. This would include changes to your exercise program or plans and any medications or supplements you’re taking. My intention is not to replace your doctor or other health care providers of course. More of a cheerleader and fellow traveller just sharing what I’ve learned.
Healthline: Help for sore throats – https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/help-sore-throats
US National Library of Medicine: The effectiveness of high dose zinc: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359576/
WebMD: Why are my glands swollen? https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/swollen-glands#1