Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Seasonal Tip

Let me change the subject!

Since Rox wrote about her flu, I have decided to share some personal Tips for Avoiding a Cold.

As you know, our little nasal hairs and viscous excretions are two defenses for our fragile mucous membranes. They trap germs which we then expel when we blow our noses.
When these membranes dry out (due to dehydration, flying, etc.) they produce microscopic cracks, and the opportunistic bacteria work their way right in - viruses are hard and spiky and make their own breaks. Furthermore, the lack of moisture enables them to reach all the way to the back of our noses, where the infection starts

[DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU ARE SQEAMISH: This is why we feel icky and painful back there on the first day of an infection - because the viruses are capturing our throat cells, manufacturing more viruses, then the cells lyse (explode) releasing a stream of invaders which take over our body. Our immune system fights back, causing fevers (high temps to kill the invaders) and extra mucous (to flush them out). The painful inflammation in the nose and throat are caused by mast cells swelling to produce large quantities of thin mucous (similar to an allergic reaction). The mucous thickens with a cold, though, because it is full of the virus bodies being flushed out of the body. That's why you want to avoid ingesting it; unfortunately, we have to sleep and then post-nasal drip lets it into our lungs, thus causing the dreaded congested cough.
Afterwards, thanks to the memory cells, we have immunity to that particular strain of cold or flu, but there are so many thousands of strains that next time we just catch another and the battle begins anew.]

I depend on one of those 8-hour release 500 mg Vitamin C capsules but also...medicated chest rub! I started applying it to the inside of my nose in the winter to prevent nosebleeds caused by overnight dryness.

As a side benefit, since starting this mentholated vaseline treatment, I haven't had a cold.

Viruses thrive in winter because they survive well in cold, dry air, so we endure an assault every time we go out. I've started applying the ointment when I go out too; I mean, think of all the people who sneeze and the things we touch, then we transfer it all to our faces and the process begins again. This is why when I go home, I wash my hands and blow my nose.


*Disclaimer: if I have made any factual errors, remember it's been years since I studied this.

10 comments:

jia said...

Yes, I caught my blasted cold from those bloody unhygenic childern I was working with. Whats with parents today...teach your childern to cover their mouths when they sneeze.

Or use a tissue...even better, don't send your childern out to spread the cold/flu or whatever!

M. said...

I remember seeing computer-generated graphics on how it all works on a science show some time ago. It also showed how virus and bacteria travel when someone sneezes and how they get breathed in... Lovely images!

-merserene

Olivia said...

Jia Li - yes, when they sneeze and when they cough.

Mers - I saw an electron microscopy image of one type of virus and it looked just like the Apollo mission lunar lander!

Rox said...

Olivia that was... wahha I dont want to leave the house ever again! But I think I must have more than a cold cause I cannot shift my fever. It seems to not want to budge from 37,3° to 38°. Just enough to make me feel fuzzy, cranky and achy but not bad enough to make me sleep all day and halucinate thankfully.

Olivia said...

Rox - sounds like you have the flu, the temps get that high or higher, and last around 4 days. To me it seems yours has lasted that long.

Mine once got up to 40C and it made me cry! My daddy held my hand and kept a cold flannel on my head while mum went out to get medication...After that I got the flu shot every year.

Olivia said...

P.S. And that happened when I was in my early 20s!

Rox said...

When I feel ill I still call my mum cause even though Nick is angelic in his care of me I just WANT MY MUM WAAAAHH! And I am 35. How sad am I.

Olivia said...

Rox, that is sooo not sad, it is very sweet. Who understands us better than our parents?
I always tell my mother that if the whole world fails me (even Dad), there will always be one person left who still loves me: HER.

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious as to what type of vaseline you put inside your nose.......Is it the vicks medicated? Or something different. I don't want to apply the vicks without asking if it is going to burn my nose off.

Olivia said...

Hey Anonymous - thanks for asking. To tell you the truth, the one I used was a much older brand with fewer ingredients than Vicks (which has thymol in it, so it smells like Listerine) and is only sold in the UK. It doesn't burn, just gives a fresh tingle.

I would recommend instead that you just use normal Vaseline - all you really want is the non-drying protection.