This totally unnecessary disease is preventable AND quickly relieved.
Before I learned to practice Holistic Medicine, I suffered the "occupational hazard" of frequent colds and flu because I was constantly exposed by close contact with my patients in the office who were infected. However, I have not had a cold, or flu, for the past 16 years. Part of this has to do with simply improving my immune system through Aerobics, Whole-Foods Diet and Skilled Relaxation. There are three other major factors that would stop this problem in the majority of those who tried them. These are:
1. humidification of the air
2. Vitamin C
3. zinc lozenges
Of course, changing these factors would not provide the substantial benefits of the lifestyle changes I mentioned above.
Humidification of the Air
First, the main reason there are more colds and flu in the "winter" is because of the low humidity caused by the heating of the inside air; not because of the exposure to the cold of the outside. The first line of defense to airborne invaders is the mucus, lining the upper respiratory tract, which traps them as they are breathed in. The normal upper respiratory tract makes a quart and a half of mucus every 24 hours. That is why we swallow every few minutes. The invaders (viruses, bacteria, allergens, etc.) are swept into the stomach, before they have a chance to get through the lining into our blood, and are pretty easily destroyed by the powerful acid in the stomach.
This system uses very little energy and is EXTREMELY effective. It is only when this system fails that the virus, etc., has to be dealt with by the immune system which takes a LOT more energy. The immune system is the second, and last, line of defense.
The average indoor humidity, in the heating season, is 10%. The average humidity of the Sahara Desert is 25%. I nspired air must be 100% humidified by the time it reaches the lungs. ALL of this moisture is provided by the mucus I mentioned. When the air is this dry, the mucus dries out so that it is MUCH thicker and flows MUCH more slowly into the stomach. All of this additional time is used to good advantage by the invaders, to get through the lining before getting swept into the stomach. Then, there is only our immunity to protect us. If you have great immunity, the invader doesn't have a chance and you don't "catch a cold".
Using an indoor humidifier, attached to your heating system, will not only solve this problem (research shows an 80% reduction of viral infections in school children in schools with heating system humidifiers) but also greatly reduces the cost of heating. Sixty-seven degrees at 40% humidity feels as warm as 75 degrees at 10% humidity. That top 8 degrees is the most expensive part of your heating costs. The typical homeowner (or school) that installs a whole house humidifier saves the cost of that installation, in heating costs, the very first season--a pretty good investment. Forget about the cost of medications, missed work and productivity, the misery of being sick, etc.
The second factor is Vitamin C. Since the availability of ESTERIFIED Vitamin C, we can get enough of the C into the White Blood Cell (WBC) to, in effect, "Supercharge" it for fighting viruses and bacteria. Esterified Vitamin C gets 4 times as much of the C into the WBC, per dose taken orally, as regular C. By taking 2-4 grams of Esterified Vitamin C daily, during the "Cold Season", most viral infections will be prevented. If you should feel a virus coming on, just start taking 4 grams 3 times a day. Loose stools mean that you need less. Ordinarily that will stop the virus within 24 hours. I would keep up the dosage for 24 hours after the last symptom to be sure it was gone.
The interferon factories of the body are put into "overdrive" once the equivalent of 50 grams of Vitamin C, daily, are used. It is really impossible to do that orally with regular vitamin C. However, it only takes 12 grams of ESTERIFIED Vitamin C to get to that point.
Anyone who tries this will know of its effectiveness. Best results happen if this is started at the first sign of symptoms. It will still work pretty well even if the cold has been coming on for 48 hours. After that, it may, or may not, work.
The third factor is zinc lozenges. For the past 10+ years research has indicated that the average length of a "cold" can be cut in half by using zinc lozenges. Since then, they have been available in health food stores and drugstores. A large study in 1996 has substantiated previous research. If this were advertised 1/10th as much as those medications designed only to relieve symptoms, there would be a lot less need for symptomatic medications. Does anyone wonder why it is not common knowledge?
I would be interested in feedback! I was raised with the adage of Build a better mousetrap and, though you build your house in the woods, the world will beat a path to your door! The same was said to be true of the "cure for the common cold." However, there is a LOT of money to be made TREATING the SYMPTOMS of viral infections. Those who are making the money will be VERY slow to spread the news. Unfortunately, they are the ones with the wherewithal to do it. The only way I can see to help people is to let them find out what works and they can vote with their dollars.
Of course, this is more completely covered in my book, along with what people can do to improve their immune systems enough to prevent other infectious diseases. The above recommendations work best for viral upper respiratory diseases.