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Runny Nose, Runny Eyes, and Running Minds: Remedies for the Common Cold

(Posted November 1, 2013)

Tissue time is right around the corner once again. Photography by Kelly Russo, '14

Rejoice! Tis that time of year again; the holiday season is just around the corner. The trees are changing color, the leaves are falling, and the scent of wood smoke is carried on the nighttime breeze. The wind is vicious, the air is harsh, and your immune system is susceptible to attack. It's the time for the common cold to become a contagious household issue.

Whenever I became ill as a child, my mother would let me stay home from school, cook me hot soup, feed me antibiotics, wrap me in an electric blanket, and made sure I got plenty of fluids into my system, such as ginger ale or orange juice. I would spend the remainder of my day sleeping, playing video games, and sweating out the virus. Many Juniata students have had similar experiences and remedies for the common cold.

Connie Peters, the nurse at the Juniata Health and Wellness Center and Dr. Kirchhof-Glazier, Professor of Biology and director of Juniata College Health Professions Program, give us their insights into unconventional remedies for the common cold.

Q: What remedies do you use or do you know of that reduces the effects of the common cold?

Connie Peters: Personally, I prescribe zinc, Vitamin C, and Echinacea (Halls) to boost the immune system. Decongestants and antihistamines work well too. For a head cold, the best remedy is to dry it out. For a cough, Robitussin and Mucinex work well with a decongestant. If a student has no medical problems, such as high blood pressure, Sudafed works to open nasal passageways. Benedryl is always good before bed.

Whenever I was a child and had a cough, my grandmother believed in a mustard plaster. It was made with dry mustard, flour, and water to make a paste. You put it in a sheet, place on the chest, and it gets really hot, so you have to move it around or you'll get burned. It works to break up things in the chest and to get rid of ammonia. Other than that, Vitamin C, Zinc, Echinacea, and chicken noodle soup are the best remedies for the common cold. The broth from the chicken noodle soup is good, though I'm not sure why. I believe it's because it warms and soothes the throat.

Dr. Deb Kirchhof-Glazier: An unconventional hydrotherapy treatment that stimulates your immune system is known as the Wet Sock Treatment. You'll need a pair of 90 percent cotton socks and a pair of 90 percent wool socks. First, you want to soak the foot part of the cotton sock in cold tap water and wring them out. Place your socks close to the basin or bathtub. Next, warm up your feet until they are pink. Immediately put the cold wet cotton socks on your feet, and then put the dry wool ones over them. Finally, go directly to bed and keep feet covered throughout the night. It will not work if your feet are uncovered. Congestion will be removed in 30 minutes. After about four hours, the cold symptoms should be improved (if not gone).

Students, please remember: if you have flu/cold-like symptoms, go to the Health and Wellness center. Get well and don't get others sick.

-Davon Jackson, Juniata Online Journalist, '17

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.