Staying well in a world full of sickness

We do this topic every winter (here in the northern hemisphere), so here's the round for February 2009. I've had a cold since the beginning of January, and my younger son has been trying to fight one off, too, but both of us were felled last night and today by snot, coughing, and overwhelming tiredness. And it seems like everyone else we know is either sick, getting better from being sick, or feeling like they're coming down with something.

So let's share strategies for trying to boost our immune systems so we can stay healthy. Here are the things I try to do (although I'm particularly bad with the first two):

1. Get enough sleep. Within your particular situation, maximizing the sleep you get will help you stay well. For those of us without night-waking babies and toddlers, that means (gasp!) turning off the TV/Facebook/Wii/massively engrossing knitting project/whatever.

2. Drink a lot of water. Your cells need it to function, and it helps to flush all the bad stuff out of your body. Just because the heat isn't telling you to drink more doesn't mean your body doesn't need it.

3. Eat fruits and vegetables. Try for 5-6 servings a day.

4. Take your vitamins. I'm partial to Emergen-C because you drink it so it hits your system quickly. I just chugged my first Emergen-C immune defense a few minutes ago (it's got added zinc), so if it miraculously cures me over night I'll let you know. The guy at the UPS store just now swears by Airborne (which isn't actually a vitamin, but an herbal formula). Your regular vitamins are going to help you out, too (although check the labels of your kids' vitamins to make sure they're not mostly HFCS).

5. Cut out the sugar. I know, there's practically nothing more soothing on a February night than sitting down with a bowl of ice cream while watching Hollywood Week, but sugar depresses your immune system. I am painfull aware that it's not the same thing at all, but I've mostly convinced myself that a big mug of red zinger tea is a treat in the evening. (OK, not really. But I'm trying.)

Now that I've written those all out, I realize I need to do a massively better job with going to bed at a decent hour and drinking water. And that maybe I could use another couple of servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Where could you improve? Is there some miracle immune booster I don't know about? (Does rooibos tea do anything for the immune system? I know you South Africans drink it by the gallon, practically. Does it help you not get sick?)

146 thoughts on “Staying well in a world full of sickness”

  1. I, too, have mostly convinced myself that herbal tea is a big treat, especially lemon zinger. It’s mostly working. Unfortunately that initiative has sabotaged my other project of not drinking any liquid after dinner so I can sleep through the night. Just can’t win.My husband has been sick for two weeks, and the little guy has been sick since New Year’s. I haven’t gotten any of it, which I attribute mostly to washing my hands approximately 400 times per day.

  2. I, too, have mostly convinced myself that herbal tea is a big treat, especially lemon zinger. It’s mostly working. Unfortunately that initiative has sabotaged my other project of not drinking any liquid after dinner so I can sleep through the night. Just can’t win.My husband has been sick for two weeks, and the little guy has been sick since New Year’s. I haven’t gotten any of it, which I attribute mostly to washing my hands approximately 400 times per day.

  3. Neti pot. Or saline nose rinse of your choosing.We’ve all been sick for all of January. Mister & JC turned the corner about a week ago. I am lagging behind some.

  4. Neti pot. Or saline nose rinse of your choosing.We’ve all been sick for all of January. Mister & JC turned the corner about a week ago. I am lagging behind some.

  5. Since Christmas, when my son had his first ear infection, someone in my house has been sick. It’s my third go around with a cold. I do swear by Cold – FX, although it hasn’t helped me in preventing colds so much this season but it does seem to help the colds only last a couple of days without the full brunt of awfulness. It’s not ok if you are pregnant or breastfeeding tho.One other thing we are trying to do is tossing our toothbrushes out at the end of a cold, to try to prevent the same cold re-circulating. It was my doctor’s suggestion. Of course, handwashing religiously, but that doesn’t save us when DS gives us super slobbery toddler kisses – and really, how can you say no to that?
    Also, I make it a personal practice not to shake people’s hands when I have a cold. Most people are appreciative of this. I wish people would do the same with me.

  6. Since Christmas, when my son had his first ear infection, someone in my house has been sick. It’s my third go around with a cold. I do swear by Cold – FX, although it hasn’t helped me in preventing colds so much this season but it does seem to help the colds only last a couple of days without the full brunt of awfulness. It’s not ok if you are pregnant or breastfeeding tho.One other thing we are trying to do is tossing our toothbrushes out at the end of a cold, to try to prevent the same cold re-circulating. It was my doctor’s suggestion. Of course, handwashing religiously, but that doesn’t save us when DS gives us super slobbery toddler kisses – and really, how can you say no to that?
    Also, I make it a personal practice not to shake people’s hands when I have a cold. Most people are appreciative of this. I wish people would do the same with me.

  7. So what’s the learning curve on a neti pot? I was all set to get one and then I thought…wait…salt water dripping down the back of my nose? Shudder.I don’t do vitamins but try to make seasonal citrus salads (oranges, clementines, grapefruit) and, of course, convince myself they’re a post-dinner treat. Hey, at least citrus is all palette-cleansing and refreshing.

  8. So what’s the learning curve on a neti pot? I was all set to get one and then I thought…wait…salt water dripping down the back of my nose? Shudder.I don’t do vitamins but try to make seasonal citrus salads (oranges, clementines, grapefruit) and, of course, convince myself they’re a post-dinner treat. Hey, at least citrus is all palette-cleansing and refreshing.

  9. I’m also a big beliver in the nasal rinsing. It has helped keep many a sniffle or cold from growing into a sinus infection. It’s also great if you’ve been working in a lot of dust or dirt, say from cleaning the attic or gardening.Washing hands, getting enough sleep, try to reduce stress, drink tons of water. I thought Zicam (the nasal gel) worked great for my December cold, but it didn’t do anything for the January one, which was a real stinker. We still struggle with eating as many fruits and veggies as possible. Time . . . need more time.

  10. I’m also a big beliver in the nasal rinsing. It has helped keep many a sniffle or cold from growing into a sinus infection. It’s also great if you’ve been working in a lot of dust or dirt, say from cleaning the attic or gardening.Washing hands, getting enough sleep, try to reduce stress, drink tons of water. I thought Zicam (the nasal gel) worked great for my December cold, but it didn’t do anything for the January one, which was a real stinker. We still struggle with eating as many fruits and veggies as possible. Time . . . need more time.

  11. my son was very premature and we were incredibly careful last year about handwashing and alcohol-based hand cleaners or baby wipes and not letting him crawl except at home. i’m less careful this year though i still carry the cleaner in pocketbook and diaperbag for times i can’t wash him – and he’s only had 2 snotty colds and 2 pukey colds total so far!i know there’s less need of this level of world decontamination for term babies or older children, but thought i’d put the alcohol based cleaners and wipes in the mix, anyway.

  12. my son was very premature and we were incredibly careful last year about handwashing and alcohol-based hand cleaners or baby wipes and not letting him crawl except at home. i’m less careful this year though i still carry the cleaner in pocketbook and diaperbag for times i can’t wash him – and he’s only had 2 snotty colds and 2 pukey colds total so far!i know there’s less need of this level of world decontamination for term babies or older children, but thought i’d put the alcohol based cleaners and wipes in the mix, anyway.

  13. Cobblestone,I have just spent a good half an hour researching nasal irrigation as I can’t get the saline solution to run out of my LOs’ other nostril. Instead it just comes out their mouths. All that screaming doesn’t help either. The doctor swears by it, and I have seen some improvement in my kids’ coughs and length of colds.
    You know, I’ve been sick since friggin August. I had bronchitis on my holidays in Aus, and still had a slight cold when I got back to Italy in September. Then a persistant cough and itchy throat that lasted a month or so, another cold, more coughing, the flu last week and laryngitis. And I’m the ‘healthy’ one in the family. My 4 year old is killing me. Whatever he gets, he gracefully passes on to me.
    I’d like to add dark chocolate. You know the Ministry of Health actually has ads promoting the consumption of the stuff here in Italy. Apparently it is a mild form of anti-depressant, an anti-oxidant and is cholesterol free. oOf course, eat in moderation.

  14. Cobblestone,I have just spent a good half an hour researching nasal irrigation as I can’t get the saline solution to run out of my LOs’ other nostril. Instead it just comes out their mouths. All that screaming doesn’t help either. The doctor swears by it, and I have seen some improvement in my kids’ coughs and length of colds.
    You know, I’ve been sick since friggin August. I had bronchitis on my holidays in Aus, and still had a slight cold when I got back to Italy in September. Then a persistant cough and itchy throat that lasted a month or so, another cold, more coughing, the flu last week and laryngitis. And I’m the ‘healthy’ one in the family. My 4 year old is killing me. Whatever he gets, he gracefully passes on to me.
    I’d like to add dark chocolate. You know the Ministry of Health actually has ads promoting the consumption of the stuff here in Italy. Apparently it is a mild form of anti-depressant, an anti-oxidant and is cholesterol free. oOf course, eat in moderation.

  15. Last time I tried nasal rinsing I did something that caused the saline and snot to go up into my ear and ended up with an ear infection with effusion (bulging ear drum) which led directly to antibiotics, do not pass go, do not collect $200 – which ended up curing pretty much everything. That said, the times I did it without sucking it up in my ear it helped a lot too.But mostly, I swear by Zicam. It’s breastfeeding friendly and it works. I only use the nasal swabs, I tried the liquid and nearly barfed – tasteless, my butt.
    When I first feel a cold coming on I make a schedule to include extra fruits and veggies, water, Airborne, Orange juice, a Zinc supplement, and Zicam. And depending on how bad it gets I’ll add a decongestant or antihistamine depending on the issue at hand.

  16. Last time I tried nasal rinsing I did something that caused the saline and snot to go up into my ear and ended up with an ear infection with effusion (bulging ear drum) which led directly to antibiotics, do not pass go, do not collect $200 – which ended up curing pretty much everything. That said, the times I did it without sucking it up in my ear it helped a lot too.But mostly, I swear by Zicam. It’s breastfeeding friendly and it works. I only use the nasal swabs, I tried the liquid and nearly barfed – tasteless, my butt.
    When I first feel a cold coming on I make a schedule to include extra fruits and veggies, water, Airborne, Orange juice, a Zinc supplement, and Zicam. And depending on how bad it gets I’ll add a decongestant or antihistamine depending on the issue at hand.

  17. Thanks for the reminder. My girl has been home with a low-grade fever, runny nose & cough for the past two days… I’ve been coughed and sneezed on so much in the last few weeks that I figure it’s inevitable that I’ll get it. I do Vit. C and echinacea, as well as either Airborne or Emergen-C. Need to drink more water. Need to sleep more.I have tried the neti pot thing a couple times and have not had much luck getting the water to drain all the way through. Any tips on that?

  18. Thanks for the reminder. My girl has been home with a low-grade fever, runny nose & cough for the past two days… I’ve been coughed and sneezed on so much in the last few weeks that I figure it’s inevitable that I’ll get it. I do Vit. C and echinacea, as well as either Airborne or Emergen-C. Need to drink more water. Need to sleep more.I have tried the neti pot thing a couple times and have not had much luck getting the water to drain all the way through. Any tips on that?

  19. @paola – tuck the chin a little more. For me, it is the head position which would end up as a REALLY jowly/awful DELETEDELETEDELETE photograph. I also look a little like the RCA phonograph dog. With jowls.If you’re learning and already stuffed up try to just blow out first until there is at least air moving in your nose. Sometimes I need to start by pinching my nose where my glasses usually sit and blowing out from there, then starting to do the neti pot.

  20. @paola – tuck the chin a little more. For me, it is the head position which would end up as a REALLY jowly/awful DELETEDELETEDELETE photograph. I also look a little like the RCA phonograph dog. With jowls.If you’re learning and already stuffed up try to just blow out first until there is at least air moving in your nose. Sometimes I need to start by pinching my nose where my glasses usually sit and blowing out from there, then starting to do the neti pot.

  21. @Paola: have you tried tipping their heads to the side which you want the saline solution to run out? When I use a Neti pot, I always tip so it can run downstream, but if my downstream side is totally blocked, then it does run down my throat.As for my cold remedies: I have had good success for nipping an oncoming cold in the bud with a homemade garlic soup.
    Basically, you boil equal portions potato and celery root (also known as celeriac) til tender. Use equal parts water and chicken or veggie broth to boil them in. Meanwhile, sautee — for just a couple of minutes — a whole head of roughly chopped garlic plus some yellow onion in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
    Add sauteed garlic/onion to the boiled veggies (turn heat way down), and add whatever spices you like, though a decent dash of cayenne pepper is essential. I often use oregano, basil, thyme and tarrgon, plus salt and pepper.
    Blend in a blender/food processor/whatever you have.
    Serve with something on top like grated parmesan, chopped parsley, crumbled bacon, etc.
    It’s pretty easy to make and really hearty, plus no dairy to make you think “ok, does dairy in fact increase mucus production?”

  22. @Paola: have you tried tipping their heads to the side which you want the saline solution to run out? When I use a Neti pot, I always tip so it can run downstream, but if my downstream side is totally blocked, then it does run down my throat.As for my cold remedies: I have had good success for nipping an oncoming cold in the bud with a homemade garlic soup.
    Basically, you boil equal portions potato and celery root (also known as celeriac) til tender. Use equal parts water and chicken or veggie broth to boil them in. Meanwhile, sautee — for just a couple of minutes — a whole head of roughly chopped garlic plus some yellow onion in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
    Add sauteed garlic/onion to the boiled veggies (turn heat way down), and add whatever spices you like, though a decent dash of cayenne pepper is essential. I often use oregano, basil, thyme and tarrgon, plus salt and pepper.
    Blend in a blender/food processor/whatever you have.
    Serve with something on top like grated parmesan, chopped parsley, crumbled bacon, etc.
    It’s pretty easy to make and really hearty, plus no dairy to make you think “ok, does dairy in fact increase mucus production?”

  23. Don’t forget chicken noodle soup – or any other chicken broth based soup. I seem to recall that the effectiveness rate is equally similar to Vitamin C (meaning that it works for some people, some of the time, but not always).If nothing else, it’s another source of hydration when you swear that the next cup of water will make you float.

  24. Don’t forget chicken noodle soup – or any other chicken broth based soup. I seem to recall that the effectiveness rate is equally similar to Vitamin C (meaning that it works for some people, some of the time, but not always).If nothing else, it’s another source of hydration when you swear that the next cup of water will make you float.

  25. Seconding the handwashing suggestion. Even when sleep is impossible and eating healthy is unrealistic, handwashing can be done! And that includes making sure the short people in the household wash hands after playing on public playgrounds (or anywhere there are a lot of kids), and before eating anything.

  26. Seconding the handwashing suggestion. Even when sleep is impossible and eating healthy is unrealistic, handwashing can be done! And that includes making sure the short people in the household wash hands after playing on public playgrounds (or anywhere there are a lot of kids), and before eating anything.

  27. I love love love rooibos tea and I swear it cures me every time. The Sahara brand with honey crystals is my favorite, but I’ve been having a hard time finding it lately and have been going with the Celestial version. Red tea is supposed to have more antioxidants than green tea (or maybe it’s just equal amounts? anyway), and I cannot stand green tea, so red it is.My parents swear by Zicam but I have never tried it. Plus, aren’t you supposed to use it just as the cold is hitting? I always seem to be in denial that I’m getting sick until it’s way too late and I am completely unable to breathe through my nose or whatever.

  28. Claudia — Dairy does not increase mucus production, but it does coat the throat, which can be equally icky.Also, there is no medical benefit to drinking beyond the point of thirst. If it makes you feel better, go for it. But if you don’t like doing it, rejoice! Be good to yourself and stop doing something that you didn’t like doing anyway.
    I suspect rooibos tea is very good for you — it seems to me that I am healthier when I drink it. So it’s a shame that I hate it so very much.

  29. Claudia — Dairy does not increase mucus production, but it does coat the throat, which can be equally icky.Also, there is no medical benefit to drinking beyond the point of thirst. If it makes you feel better, go for it. But if you don’t like doing it, rejoice! Be good to yourself and stop doing something that you didn’t like doing anyway.
    I suspect rooibos tea is very good for you — it seems to me that I am healthier when I drink it. So it’s a shame that I hate it so very much.

  30. I second all the recommendations for rinsing the sinuses with salt water. I have a Nasaline that I got from my chiropractors office, if anyone is looking for a specific product.I swear by Sambucus (elderberry extract, natural antiviral). There are different brands, and I mix it with orange juice, because the kind I bought most recently tastes less than lovely. It was recommended by my doctor ages ago, and I really believe that if you take it as soon as you start to feel iffy (and continue until you are better), it can help you avoid getting really sick or at least minimize the symptoms.
    If I actually get sick, I take Zicam tablets, which really do help.
    I drink rooibos tea every day. No idea if it has any health benefits, but it sure is tasty!

  31. um, drinking *water* beyond the point of thirst.drinking other stuff, well . . .
    Oh! I heard a cold researcher from UVa a few weeks ago on NPR. Evidently hand sanitizers don’t do much to kill cold viruses (good on flu, though), but cold viruses are easily pushed off one’s hands with water at whatever temperature and a little rubbing.

  32. Once again, Moxie reads my mind. Poor daughter has another cold, after she finally started sleeping through the night. My mom is acting like she’s never seen a baby be sick this often, so it’s oddly comforting to hear that other families are dealing with the same thing.Kristine, do you have a ref on Zicam being BF friendly? I know my midwife said it wasn’t OK for pregnancy, so I’m curious.
    Humidifiers have helped us so much, keeping the respiratory system nice and moist actually helps your body fight the nasties and helps you stay asleep longer. I hate keeping them clean, but oh well.

  33. Yes to the neti pot, followed by a salt water gargle.@Tamar, I found the learning curve on the neti pot to be very quick, *but* I had enough backed up mucus that it took several days until the water ran out well. The first couple of days, I just had to try it, blow my nose, and repeat when I had the chance.
    I think probably the angle of the head can change a lot about how well it works, but I can imagine some people’s nasal passages might be too twisty or narrow or something to work well with it.

  34. “They are all gross and rough and chapped.”There was an ad for hand lotion a few years ago in which a woman was talking about how her hands were so rough they would snag socks as she was folding laundry. Sing it, sister — I am wearing sandpaper mittens all winter.

  35. “They are all gross and rough and chapped.”There was an ad for hand lotion a few years ago in which a woman was talking about how her hands were so rough they would snag socks as she was folding laundry. Sing it, sister — I am wearing sandpaper mittens all winter.

  36. Here’s one I wish more folks would follow: If you’re sick, stay home! If your kids are sick, keep them home! ;)I was raised by an OCD-having nurse, so I’ve had these strict germaphobic cleanliness habits ingrained into me. I get a cold about once every 3 years, so I actually think they do work:
    Cough into your elbow, not into your hands. Good handwashing technique is paramount – sing the “happy birthday” song all the way through, make sure you see lots of soap suds, and pay attention to the areas under & around the nails. But don’t touch the handles on your way out of the restroom – cover your hand with your shirt sleeve to grab the door.
    Wash your hands as soon as you get home, as soon as you arrive at work, anytime after you’ve had to touch a public copier or fax button, or have finished working out at a public gym. Use your knuckle or your elbow to press elevator buttons, or better yet, take the stairs.
    Be vigilant about wiping down doorknobs, light switches, steering wheels, keyboards, the mouse, and other frequently-touched areas.
    Neti pots are awesome. Dogs are, too, and they say dog owners are sick a lot less often.

  37. Here’s one I wish more folks would follow: If you’re sick, stay home! If your kids are sick, keep them home! ;)I was raised by an OCD-having nurse, so I’ve had these strict germaphobic cleanliness habits ingrained into me. I get a cold about once every 3 years, so I actually think they do work:
    Cough into your elbow, not into your hands. Good handwashing technique is paramount – sing the “happy birthday” song all the way through, make sure you see lots of soap suds, and pay attention to the areas under & around the nails. But don’t touch the handles on your way out of the restroom – cover your hand with your shirt sleeve to grab the door.
    Wash your hands as soon as you get home, as soon as you arrive at work, anytime after you’ve had to touch a public copier or fax button, or have finished working out at a public gym. Use your knuckle or your elbow to press elevator buttons, or better yet, take the stairs.
    Be vigilant about wiping down doorknobs, light switches, steering wheels, keyboards, the mouse, and other frequently-touched areas.
    Neti pots are awesome. Dogs are, too, and they say dog owners are sick a lot less often.

  38. Have to recommend Mucinex. Much better than sudafed. If I start to get stuffed up, I take Mucinex (sometimes with Sudafed but never just Sudafed as it dries out your throat causing new problems) and it has really cut down the number of sinus infections I’ve had.For the kids (mine are 4 so this wouldn’t work for the under 1 group), once they get a cough, we give them honey (straight) and/or in honey/lemon “tea” (just warm water with honey and lemon).
    Just realized those two things are after you get sick not really keeping one healthy… I always get what my boys have and it winds up sitting in me twice as long as it did them. Ugh.

  39. Have to recommend Mucinex. Much better than sudafed. If I start to get stuffed up, I take Mucinex (sometimes with Sudafed but never just Sudafed as it dries out your throat causing new problems) and it has really cut down the number of sinus infections I’ve had.For the kids (mine are 4 so this wouldn’t work for the under 1 group), once they get a cough, we give them honey (straight) and/or in honey/lemon “tea” (just warm water with honey and lemon).
    Just realized those two things are after you get sick not really keeping one healthy… I always get what my boys have and it winds up sitting in me twice as long as it did them. Ugh.

  40. We have a rule at our house that when you come in from anywhere, you remove your coat, your shoes and your germs. It helps keep school germs at school and friend’s germs at the friend’s. Our preschool has a similar hand washing policy which helps too.

  41. We have a rule at our house that when you come in from anywhere, you remove your coat, your shoes and your germs. It helps keep school germs at school and friend’s germs at the friend’s. Our preschool has a similar hand washing policy which helps too.

  42. has anyone heard about juice plus+? two co workers were raving about it last night and im about to investigate it.but im SO sick of the coughing. 5 year old has had two upper respiratory infections (aka walking pnemonia), then pnemonia (which was only confirmed via xray, they didnt hear anything. lovely.) he’s gotten sick before every major holiday – thanksgiving, then xmas, then MLK day.i told our ped to book us an appointment around presidents day.
    then the 3 year old and 4 month old began coughing. MAKE IT STOP.

  43. has anyone heard about juice plus+? two co workers were raving about it last night and im about to investigate it.but im SO sick of the coughing. 5 year old has had two upper respiratory infections (aka walking pnemonia), then pnemonia (which was only confirmed via xray, they didnt hear anything. lovely.) he’s gotten sick before every major holiday – thanksgiving, then xmas, then MLK day.i told our ped to book us an appointment around presidents day.
    then the 3 year old and 4 month old began coughing. MAKE IT STOP.

  44. My 18 month old is just coming out of his third cold-turned-into-an-ear-infection since mid-December. So that’s nearly 2 months of antibiotics and tons of green snot with only a few days break in between. Poor thing!What I don’t understand is that everybody says he’ll get lots of colds early on since he’s in daycare but that by the time he gets to kindergarden his immune system will have built up enough so that he won’t get nearly as many colds as the kids who weren’t in daycare. Well, if that’s the case, why am I getting all of his colds? Shouldn’t I be immune to most of these colds by now since I’ve had 36 years of building up immunity to colds?!

  45. My 18 month old is just coming out of his third cold-turned-into-an-ear-infection since mid-December. So that’s nearly 2 months of antibiotics and tons of green snot with only a few days break in between. Poor thing!What I don’t understand is that everybody says he’ll get lots of colds early on since he’s in daycare but that by the time he gets to kindergarden his immune system will have built up enough so that he won’t get nearly as many colds as the kids who weren’t in daycare. Well, if that’s the case, why am I getting all of his colds? Shouldn’t I be immune to most of these colds by now since I’ve had 36 years of building up immunity to colds?!

  46. Both kids and husband sick here since Thanksgiving, feeling better for about a week now. I have been sick off and on.Big-time nasal irrigators here (recipe is 1/2 iodized salt to 1/2 baking soda). *piece of advice from our dr: “Be careful with nasal irrigation, if the saline doesn’t drain through, it can sit in your sinus, becoming a warm and pleasant medium for bacterial growth.” Nice.
    Use a WARM-mist humidifier. O The Moisture! And the heat kills bacteria (and helps warm up your room).
    Lots of hand washing (sux for my psoriasis).
    Favorite drink: Big knob of ginger, roughly chopped + lemon juice + water, simmer for about 15 minutes. Add honey for children (a little whiskey for grownups).
    Acidophilus.
    Also — children’s movies from Netflix. Apply liberally. (Yay Yo gabba gabba!)
    If after 14 days things are still sucky– get thee to an antibiotic dispensor.

  47. Both kids and husband sick here since Thanksgiving, feeling better for about a week now. I have been sick off and on.Big-time nasal irrigators here (recipe is 1/2 iodized salt to 1/2 baking soda). *piece of advice from our dr: “Be careful with nasal irrigation, if the saline doesn’t drain through, it can sit in your sinus, becoming a warm and pleasant medium for bacterial growth.” Nice.
    Use a WARM-mist humidifier. O The Moisture! And the heat kills bacteria (and helps warm up your room).
    Lots of hand washing (sux for my psoriasis).
    Favorite drink: Big knob of ginger, roughly chopped + lemon juice + water, simmer for about 15 minutes. Add honey for children (a little whiskey for grownups).
    Acidophilus.
    Also — children’s movies from Netflix. Apply liberally. (Yay Yo gabba gabba!)
    If after 14 days things are still sucky– get thee to an antibiotic dispensor.

  48. Well I’m going to go counter-intuitive here from someone who’s been sick for months and trying everything…Sometimes you get sick, and it’s not your fault, and you do not have to feel lousy about the vitamins and vegetables and germs. It’s okay, it’s part of the human condition, lie down and get better.
    🙂

  49. Well I’m going to go counter-intuitive here from someone who’s been sick for months and trying everything…Sometimes you get sick, and it’s not your fault, and you do not have to feel lousy about the vitamins and vegetables and germs. It’s okay, it’s part of the human condition, lie down and get better.
    🙂

  50. Funny/gross addition: don’t pick your nose. Not that I do, but my ENT once asked me, after recurrent sinus infections…you don’t pick your nose, do you? Because that spreads germs into your sinuses. Again, for the record, I do not do this 🙂 🙂 🙂 but I’ve remembered it ever since and it makes sense to me to keep your hands away from your face, and try to teach your kids to do the same.And one more thing, I’ve heard computer keyboards are germier than toilet seats so spray the thing with Lysol!
    And I second the suggestion to use a saline sinus rinse. I use the NeilMed one and it makes my sinuses feel so much better in cold, dry weather like we have now in Missouri.

  51. Funny/gross addition: don’t pick your nose. Not that I do, but my ENT once asked me, after recurrent sinus infections…you don’t pick your nose, do you? Because that spreads germs into your sinuses. Again, for the record, I do not do this 🙂 🙂 🙂 but I’ve remembered it ever since and it makes sense to me to keep your hands away from your face, and try to teach your kids to do the same.And one more thing, I’ve heard computer keyboards are germier than toilet seats so spray the thing with Lysol!
    And I second the suggestion to use a saline sinus rinse. I use the NeilMed one and it makes my sinuses feel so much better in cold, dry weather like we have now in Missouri.

  52. My five month old has her first cold, pobrecita. Despite the sneezing and the snottiness, she is trying valiantly to keep up her cheery disposition. Smile. Sneeze. Gurgle. Sneeze. Babble. Cough. Cute and sad at the same time.FWIW I am trying to stay healthy by drinking tea (any old kind) with honey and half a shot or so of Latvian Balsams. Balsams is basically booze made out of a bunch of herbs. It is an acquired taste, but seems to help me at the very beginning of a cold. So if you have a Baltic import store close by, I’d invest in a bottle! You could also try brandy in your tea.
    Incidentally, I’m breastfeeding, so I don’t put enough in to get drunk, just to warm up my body.
    And speaking of alcohol, I have friends who swear by drinking a shot of vodka with pepper mixed in and then going straight to bed at the beginning of a cold. This has never worked for me, though.

  53. My five month old has her first cold, pobrecita. Despite the sneezing and the snottiness, she is trying valiantly to keep up her cheery disposition. Smile. Sneeze. Gurgle. Sneeze. Babble. Cough. Cute and sad at the same time.FWIW I am trying to stay healthy by drinking tea (any old kind) with honey and half a shot or so of Latvian Balsams. Balsams is basically booze made out of a bunch of herbs. It is an acquired taste, but seems to help me at the very beginning of a cold. So if you have a Baltic import store close by, I’d invest in a bottle! You could also try brandy in your tea.
    Incidentally, I’m breastfeeding, so I don’t put enough in to get drunk, just to warm up my body.
    And speaking of alcohol, I have friends who swear by drinking a shot of vodka with pepper mixed in and then going straight to bed at the beginning of a cold. This has never worked for me, though.

  54. ugh, pnut and the bean and i have had some nasty friggin headcold for weeks! preschool: a blessing and a curse. the post nasal drip is killer! and everytime i think we’re getting better, we have a setback.i have no advice, only empathy. i do have chapped hands, though, and the kids have chapped noses. and the bean is still teething. super.
    we are having chicken soup for dinner, it’s delicious…especially with dumplings, mmm…

  55. ugh, pnut and the bean and i have had some nasty friggin headcold for weeks! preschool: a blessing and a curse. the post nasal drip is killer! and everytime i think we’re getting better, we have a setback.i have no advice, only empathy. i do have chapped hands, though, and the kids have chapped noses. and the bean is still teething. super.
    we are having chicken soup for dinner, it’s delicious…especially with dumplings, mmm…

  56. I like mint hot tea when I’m congested. Mucinex D is enough to get fluid stuck in my head moving again (1/2 dose for me).My 13 month old, who just moved in to the “ones room” (which I think == the rest of the school) has been snotty-nosed since the beginning of the year. We’ve been having to give her preventative nebulizer stuff to keep the mild rattle from turning into something big (she has an asthma plan from the ped).
    If you’re not up for the whole neti-pot experience, sometimes it’s helpful to just use the regular saline drops – lean your head back, add in a few drops, let them roll to the back of your through (yucky) and then blow your nose. Everyone in the house has their own bottle, marked with a sharpie.
    Oh, and this should be a no brainer, but it’s really hard to do with a toddler who wants a bite of everything – don’t share your food/drink with the sick kid. (This is how I usually end up with whatever it is). And for older kids – don’t let the sick kid set the table or put away the clean dishes.

  57. I like mint hot tea when I’m congested. Mucinex D is enough to get fluid stuck in my head moving again (1/2 dose for me).My 13 month old, who just moved in to the “ones room” (which I think == the rest of the school) has been snotty-nosed since the beginning of the year. We’ve been having to give her preventative nebulizer stuff to keep the mild rattle from turning into something big (she has an asthma plan from the ped).
    If you’re not up for the whole neti-pot experience, sometimes it’s helpful to just use the regular saline drops – lean your head back, add in a few drops, let them roll to the back of your through (yucky) and then blow your nose. Everyone in the house has their own bottle, marked with a sharpie.
    Oh, and this should be a no brainer, but it’s really hard to do with a toddler who wants a bite of everything – don’t share your food/drink with the sick kid. (This is how I usually end up with whatever it is). And for older kids – don’t let the sick kid set the table or put away the clean dishes.

  58. I give my daughter Elderberry and Astragalus every day. They are supposed to help boost the immune system. We just started this in October, and we’ve noticed a big difference in how quickly she gets over things and she has not been sick as often as in the past. The products were recommended by her doctor–the particular ones we use can be found at truebotanica.com.

  59. I give my daughter Elderberry and Astragalus every day. They are supposed to help boost the immune system. We just started this in October, and we’ve noticed a big difference in how quickly she gets over things and she has not been sick as often as in the past. The products were recommended by her doctor–the particular ones we use can be found at truebotanica.com.

  60. Not to freak anyone out, but: My friend had a bad reaction to the Zicam swabs and lost his sense of smell. (He’s a waiter at a swanky restaurant, so this is doubly bad.) He got a settlement from the company, as did many others, to avoid a class-action lawsuit. Apparently the swabs have been reformulated since, but I’m a bit wary nonetheless. (Too bad, really – they worked wonderfully for me. Zinc lozenges not so much, and the mouth drynesss is icky, but still worth a try.so around here it’s EmergenC/kids’ C tablets, lots of handwashing, lots of ginger lemonade, plus Rescue Remedy for the heck of it. Working on the water and the sleep things…

  61. Not to freak anyone out, but: My friend had a bad reaction to the Zicam swabs and lost his sense of smell. (He’s a waiter at a swanky restaurant, so this is doubly bad.) He got a settlement from the company, as did many others, to avoid a class-action lawsuit. Apparently the swabs have been reformulated since, but I’m a bit wary nonetheless. (Too bad, really – they worked wonderfully for me. Zinc lozenges not so much, and the mouth drynesss is icky, but still worth a try.so around here it’s EmergenC/kids’ C tablets, lots of handwashing, lots of ginger lemonade, plus Rescue Remedy for the heck of it. Working on the water and the sleep things…

  62. @AmyinAustin – I thought warm-mist humidifiers were supposed to be excellent petri dishes for germs? Did I pluck that memory out of thin air? (I hate it when that happens.)

  63. @AmyinAustin – I thought warm-mist humidifiers were supposed to be excellent petri dishes for germs? Did I pluck that memory out of thin air? (I hate it when that happens.)

  64. Is dipping your preschooler in lysol allowed? Because I don’t think anything will stop it short of that. Just take good care of yourself and then hopefully whatever you get will be relatively short-lived. I do have anecdata back from pre-parenthood that a kickass workout, followed by a hot bath, followed by spicy soup and a hot toddy and immediate bed, was highly effective if administered at the first sign of a sniffle. Is it happening these days? Ha!!@jules’ mom, I think immunity fades after decades…but I do have an almost-5 who started daycare at 7 mos. It’s not like she’s cold-free, she gets her share–but it’s no longer the case that she gets every. blessed. thing. (Fiercely knocking wood over here as I say this of course.) Also, jokes about dipping them in lysol aside, big preschoolers are way less likely to paw each others faces with snotty hands, for example, than babies and toddlers. I suspect that helps.

  65. Is dipping your preschooler in lysol allowed? Because I don’t think anything will stop it short of that. Just take good care of yourself and then hopefully whatever you get will be relatively short-lived. I do have anecdata back from pre-parenthood that a kickass workout, followed by a hot bath, followed by spicy soup and a hot toddy and immediate bed, was highly effective if administered at the first sign of a sniffle. Is it happening these days? Ha!!@jules’ mom, I think immunity fades after decades…but I do have an almost-5 who started daycare at 7 mos. It’s not like she’s cold-free, she gets her share–but it’s no longer the case that she gets every. blessed. thing. (Fiercely knocking wood over here as I say this of course.) Also, jokes about dipping them in lysol aside, big preschoolers are way less likely to paw each others faces with snotty hands, for example, than babies and toddlers. I suspect that helps.

  66. CaliBoo – The Zicam reference is about half way down the page under Nasal sprays or gels.http://www.kellymom.com/health/meds/cold-remedy.html
    There is something about losing your sense of smell, but I honestly think the people who experience that are sticking the swap WAY up their nose, I have used it for over 2 years (obviously not continuously, but it’s my go to choice) and have not had a problem, just make sure you follow the direction re: how far to stick it up your nose.

  67. CaliBoo – The Zicam reference is about half way down the page under Nasal sprays or gels.http://www.kellymom.com/health/meds/cold-remedy.html
    There is something about losing your sense of smell, but I honestly think the people who experience that are sticking the swap WAY up their nose, I have used it for over 2 years (obviously not continuously, but it’s my go to choice) and have not had a problem, just make sure you follow the direction re: how far to stick it up your nose.

  68. Um…we’ve been lucky with the cold-type illnesses this year and have just had a few minor sniffles (oh I am so tempting fate by writing that!) BUT my 3-year old and myself just suffered an awful 24-hour stomach virus that was pure misery. Remarkably my husband and 5-year old remained healthy. I attribute it to my husband’s vigilance in wiping all surfaces, door knobs and light switches with alcohol every night before he went to bed.Our stand-by comfort food is miso soup. I think it has many of the same benefits as chicken soup, and is easier to make quickly (at least for me it is.) We always have miso on hand (I don’t think it ever goes bad.) If I’m really sick I’ll have it plain, but if my husband is feeling well and I’m sick he’ll add lots of goodies to his – scallions, tofu, seaweed (the kids eat it too!), shredded carrots, rice noodles & daikon.

  69. Um…we’ve been lucky with the cold-type illnesses this year and have just had a few minor sniffles (oh I am so tempting fate by writing that!) BUT my 3-year old and myself just suffered an awful 24-hour stomach virus that was pure misery. Remarkably my husband and 5-year old remained healthy. I attribute it to my husband’s vigilance in wiping all surfaces, door knobs and light switches with alcohol every night before he went to bed.Our stand-by comfort food is miso soup. I think it has many of the same benefits as chicken soup, and is easier to make quickly (at least for me it is.) We always have miso on hand (I don’t think it ever goes bad.) If I’m really sick I’ll have it plain, but if my husband is feeling well and I’m sick he’ll add lots of goodies to his – scallions, tofu, seaweed (the kids eat it too!), shredded carrots, rice noodles & daikon.

  70. Handwashing; smoothies made with OJ, soymilk and blueberries; ZICAM!!!, Emergen-C; adequate rest; bundling up when you go out in the cold; water, water, water!!

  71. Handwashing; smoothies made with OJ, soymilk and blueberries; ZICAM!!!, Emergen-C; adequate rest; bundling up when you go out in the cold; water, water, water!!

  72. Honey is a great natural anti-inflammatory (obviously not good for babies) and it helps to lubricate the throat.I am a big fan of the honey/lemon/hot water combo. It helped me when I caught a cold at my in laws. (we went to a children’s Christmas party in the village hall, where everyone ended up catching a cold)
    raw garlic (if you are hardcore) or garlic caplets are another favorite.
    And finally if you are super hard-core, apple cider vinegar helps so much if you have truly blocked sinuses. You can either down 2 Tbs like a shot or dilute it in water and sip it. It always clears everything up.

  73. Honey is a great natural anti-inflammatory (obviously not good for babies) and it helps to lubricate the throat.I am a big fan of the honey/lemon/hot water combo. It helped me when I caught a cold at my in laws. (we went to a children’s Christmas party in the village hall, where everyone ended up catching a cold)
    raw garlic (if you are hardcore) or garlic caplets are another favorite.
    And finally if you are super hard-core, apple cider vinegar helps so much if you have truly blocked sinuses. You can either down 2 Tbs like a shot or dilute it in water and sip it. It always clears everything up.

  74. @ Lisa — My doc says that if you follow the maintenance directions on the manual, you really won’t have any problem. It’s all about keeping the filter from getting moldy, I guess. Also I know you can buy this sort of ball-filter-thingy to put in your water reservoir to keep the water cleaner, but I haven’t tried it yet ’cause it’s like $6 and I am cheap.I actually think that it may be safer to use the warm-mist vs. the cool-mist, because the water IS heated?

  75. @ Lisa — My doc says that if you follow the maintenance directions on the manual, you really won’t have any problem. It’s all about keeping the filter from getting moldy, I guess. Also I know you can buy this sort of ball-filter-thingy to put in your water reservoir to keep the water cleaner, but I haven’t tried it yet ’cause it’s like $6 and I am cheap.I actually think that it may be safer to use the warm-mist vs. the cool-mist, because the water IS heated?

  76. I think handwashing has slowed down the illness this year. We have a new baby and we started a more vigorous hand washing regimen for everyone, but especially big brother and big sister. We also got our flu shots, everyone from the 4 year old to my parents. And we don’t go away much.Fruit, orange juice, not too much vitamin C after my husband got really sick after taking high doses of it and the doctor chastised us, my grandmother swears by blackberry brandy to cure just about everything…

  77. I think handwashing has slowed down the illness this year. We have a new baby and we started a more vigorous hand washing regimen for everyone, but especially big brother and big sister. We also got our flu shots, everyone from the 4 year old to my parents. And we don’t go away much.Fruit, orange juice, not too much vitamin C after my husband got really sick after taking high doses of it and the doctor chastised us, my grandmother swears by blackberry brandy to cure just about everything…

  78. Wow, I’d say my #1 recommendation is don’t buy in to this germ-o-phobia! Seriously. On a daily basis, I visit a university with 70,000 people–door handles, handshakes, handles on the metro bus, bathrooms, etc. There’s no avoiding germs, and frankly, your bodies are meant to encounter germs. Anti-bacterial products are an environmental and health hazard and perhaps more importantly, this germ-fear is feeding a giant social scheme to guilt nervous mothers.Plus, did anyone read this brilliant NYT article from last week? We *need* exposure to germs!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27brod.html?_r=1&em

  79. Wow, I’d say my #1 recommendation is don’t buy in to this germ-o-phobia! Seriously. On a daily basis, I visit a university with 70,000 people–door handles, handshakes, handles on the metro bus, bathrooms, etc. There’s no avoiding germs, and frankly, your bodies are meant to encounter germs. Anti-bacterial products are an environmental and health hazard and perhaps more importantly, this germ-fear is feeding a giant social scheme to guilt nervous mothers.Plus, did anyone read this brilliant NYT article from last week? We *need* exposure to germs!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27brod.html?_r=1&em

  80. @ texture amy: I’m fairly sure (though no expert by any means) that if you’re exposed to the cold germs, antibodies are built against it, whether you suffer from that cold or not. Those antibodies will therefore go on to your baby via breast milk.Which reminds me of a question I have regarding toothbrushes and reinfection. You can’t catch exactly the same cold twice, can you? I think I’ve heard there’s something like 6000 different cold viruses out there, so that’s why you can keep catching a cold, but it won’t be from precisely the same virus strain. So if your toothbrush is swarming with cold germs you’ve already suffered and thus built antibodies against, aren’t you now immune to that one?
    Of course, the mere thought of my toothbrush swarming with anything makes me want to throw it out anyway, but hypothetically speaking…

  81. @ texture amy: I’m fairly sure (though no expert by any means) that if you’re exposed to the cold germs, antibodies are built against it, whether you suffer from that cold or not. Those antibodies will therefore go on to your baby via breast milk.Which reminds me of a question I have regarding toothbrushes and reinfection. You can’t catch exactly the same cold twice, can you? I think I’ve heard there’s something like 6000 different cold viruses out there, so that’s why you can keep catching a cold, but it won’t be from precisely the same virus strain. So if your toothbrush is swarming with cold germs you’ve already suffered and thus built antibodies against, aren’t you now immune to that one?
    Of course, the mere thought of my toothbrush swarming with anything makes me want to throw it out anyway, but hypothetically speaking…

  82. Clear nose spray (it’s spelled xlear). It is saline with xylitol, which kills the bacteria in your sinuses. My pharmacist rec’d it. No danger of overdose or dependency because it is all natural. It works miracles for me.

  83. Vitamin D. Seriously. Very important for your immune system, especially if you live in northern areas with less sunlight. 1000-2000iu per day in winter. There are some researchers who even recommend more for pregger/breastfeeding moms, but it has not been well studied. You CAN have Vitamin D toxicity, but typically not at 1000iu, and usually not even at 2000iu during wintertime if you are in a darker latitude.Why in winter? D is the sunshine vitamin. It is produced in the body with exposure to sunlinght. During summertime 15-20 minutes of exposure to at least face and arms daily is enough. Where I am in the mid-atlantic, you can really only do that reliably May-Sept. That leaves 8 months of the year of little to no natural D production.
    I find that if I feel like I’m coming down with something, I take an EXTRA 2000iu on top of my usual 2000iu wintertime supplement, and I seem to stop getting sick. (The toxicity issue is not a one-day thing – it would be a cumulative effect of repeated overdose, so I don’t worry about a day here and a day there at higher doses, especially after testing D deficient at the end of summer.)
    Specifically, you want to make sure it’s the oily kind (drops or gelcaps) which is D3 (cholecalciferol), NOT the less well absorbed D2 (ergocalciferol).
    Google “vitamin d immune system.” It’s astounding.

  84. Vitamin D. Seriously. Very important for your immune system, especially if you live in northern areas with less sunlight. 1000-2000iu per day in winter. There are some researchers who even recommend more for pregger/breastfeeding moms, but it has not been well studied. You CAN have Vitamin D toxicity, but typically not at 1000iu, and usually not even at 2000iu during wintertime if you are in a darker latitude.Why in winter? D is the sunshine vitamin. It is produced in the body with exposure to sunlinght. During summertime 15-20 minutes of exposure to at least face and arms daily is enough. Where I am in the mid-atlantic, you can really only do that reliably May-Sept. That leaves 8 months of the year of little to no natural D production.
    I find that if I feel like I’m coming down with something, I take an EXTRA 2000iu on top of my usual 2000iu wintertime supplement, and I seem to stop getting sick. (The toxicity issue is not a one-day thing – it would be a cumulative effect of repeated overdose, so I don’t worry about a day here and a day there at higher doses, especially after testing D deficient at the end of summer.)
    Specifically, you want to make sure it’s the oily kind (drops or gelcaps) which is D3 (cholecalciferol), NOT the less well absorbed D2 (ergocalciferol).
    Google “vitamin d immune system.” It’s astounding.

  85. Breathing through your nose:- filters out germs, bacteria, etc
    – warms the air going into your lungs
    – moistens the air in your lungs
    All things that either prevent getting sick or alleviate the awfulness of it.
    A brilliant trick for clearing a blocked nose that I was so grateful for being shown:
    – exhale
    – pinch your nostrils so no air is going in
    – close your mouth (i.e. hold your breath)
    – nod in an exaggerated fashion (meaning lift your head high, and tip it low) at a pace that is comfortable (not slow but not crazy-fast either)
    – you will have the urge to breathe, ignore that urge and it will pass (this usually happens at about 16 nods for me)
    – you will be able to do a few more nods and then will have another urge to breathe (usually about 4-6 more nods for me)
    – release your nostrils and breathe in through your nose
    – keep breathing through your nose, and it should clear until it is easy to breath freely
    – remember to keep breathing through your nose to keep the passages clear.
    Depending on how blocked you are, you may need to repeat the process a couple of times.
    For me, if I’m living a healthy lifestyle (well rested, healthy food, exercise, low stress) then I generally don’t get sick no matter how many germs I’m exposed to from other sick people. But if I start to slide in one or more of those areas I will pay for it. Big time.

  86. Breathing through your nose:- filters out germs, bacteria, etc
    – warms the air going into your lungs
    – moistens the air in your lungs
    All things that either prevent getting sick or alleviate the awfulness of it.
    A brilliant trick for clearing a blocked nose that I was so grateful for being shown:
    – exhale
    – pinch your nostrils so no air is going in
    – close your mouth (i.e. hold your breath)
    – nod in an exaggerated fashion (meaning lift your head high, and tip it low) at a pace that is comfortable (not slow but not crazy-fast either)
    – you will have the urge to breathe, ignore that urge and it will pass (this usually happens at about 16 nods for me)
    – you will be able to do a few more nods and then will have another urge to breathe (usually about 4-6 more nods for me)
    – release your nostrils and breathe in through your nose
    – keep breathing through your nose, and it should clear until it is easy to breath freely
    – remember to keep breathing through your nose to keep the passages clear.
    Depending on how blocked you are, you may need to repeat the process a couple of times.
    For me, if I’m living a healthy lifestyle (well rested, healthy food, exercise, low stress) then I generally don’t get sick no matter how many germs I’m exposed to from other sick people. But if I start to slide in one or more of those areas I will pay for it. Big time.

  87. Like CG I wash my hands ALL THE TIME. My hands are literally raw now, but the only thing that seems to happen to me is a nice cold throat every once in a while. This, in the midst of raising a 2 year old “germinator” and an 8 week old who mostly sucks all the good stuff out of me (literally and figuratively) and keeps me up most of the night! Since I am also prone to getting cold sores, I tend to keep Lysine pills around which are amino acids that boost immunity and also help prevent cold sores. I pop a bunch of those when I am feeling run down.I am not good at my diet right now and I’m not good at drinking enough fluids. And of course I won’t even talk about the lack of sleep. However, I do believe that a positive attitude helps too so even if my body is screaming out in pain, I try to fill my mind full of good thoughts.

  88. Like CG I wash my hands ALL THE TIME. My hands are literally raw now, but the only thing that seems to happen to me is a nice cold throat every once in a while. This, in the midst of raising a 2 year old “germinator” and an 8 week old who mostly sucks all the good stuff out of me (literally and figuratively) and keeps me up most of the night! Since I am also prone to getting cold sores, I tend to keep Lysine pills around which are amino acids that boost immunity and also help prevent cold sores. I pop a bunch of those when I am feeling run down.I am not good at my diet right now and I’m not good at drinking enough fluids. And of course I won’t even talk about the lack of sleep. However, I do believe that a positive attitude helps too so even if my body is screaming out in pain, I try to fill my mind full of good thoughts.

  89. “Is there some miracle immune booster I don’t know about?”The hot and sour soup from a certain Asian food cart in Philadelphia, on the UPenn campus. Right about the corner of 36th and Spruce Street (or, what 36th would be if it weren’t all walkway right in that part of campus), right by Logan Hall, across from the gate to the old undergrad housing near the hospital.
    Cures whatever ails you (my nursing student friend swore by it), and tastes like nothing in this world. 8 years out of grad school and I’ve never found its equal.
    Then there’s the old Scottish cure, which I’ve never tried, but goes something like this:
    Put a hat at the foot of your bed. Climb into bed and have a wee nip of Scotch until there are two hats. When you wake up, you’ll be better.
    Good luck —

  90. “Is there some miracle immune booster I don’t know about?”The hot and sour soup from a certain Asian food cart in Philadelphia, on the UPenn campus. Right about the corner of 36th and Spruce Street (or, what 36th would be if it weren’t all walkway right in that part of campus), right by Logan Hall, across from the gate to the old undergrad housing near the hospital.
    Cures whatever ails you (my nursing student friend swore by it), and tastes like nothing in this world. 8 years out of grad school and I’ve never found its equal.
    Then there’s the old Scottish cure, which I’ve never tried, but goes something like this:
    Put a hat at the foot of your bed. Climb into bed and have a wee nip of Scotch until there are two hats. When you wake up, you’ll be better.
    Good luck —

  91. No one has mentioned this yet:I have a glass (or two) of pomegranate juice in the mornings, and a glass (or two) of red wine at night.
    I have two boys who have had the croup twice. My husband has had 3 colds back to back. I’ve had nothing. Everybody’s all over me with their snot and everything, and I’m not that great about hand-washing.
    ???

  92. No one has mentioned this yet:I have a glass (or two) of pomegranate juice in the mornings, and a glass (or two) of red wine at night.
    I have two boys who have had the croup twice. My husband has had 3 colds back to back. I’ve had nothing. Everybody’s all over me with their snot and everything, and I’m not that great about hand-washing.
    ???

  93. Nothing works like sleep. And, of course, very few parents of little kids can get enough of it.I am the opposite of a germophobe – hell, I barely ever wash my hands except when there’s something visibly ON them – but I never, never got sick until the baby arrived and I stopped being able to sleep for long stretches. I think hysterical attention to handwashing and wiping down surfaces and doorknobs and etc. and etc. does us far more harm than good in the long run.
    Now that he at least occasionally sleeps through the night, my immunity is far stronger.

  94. Nothing works like sleep. And, of course, very few parents of little kids can get enough of it.I am the opposite of a germophobe – hell, I barely ever wash my hands except when there’s something visibly ON them – but I never, never got sick until the baby arrived and I stopped being able to sleep for long stretches. I think hysterical attention to handwashing and wiping down surfaces and doorknobs and etc. and etc. does us far more harm than good in the long run.
    Now that he at least occasionally sleeps through the night, my immunity is far stronger.

  95. Airborne has changed my life. I haven’t had a cold last longer than two days since I started taking it (excepting the 10 day horror of a cold when I was in Sweden with no Airborne or Puffs Plus).

  96. Gargle. With green tea is best but even just water will do. There have been quite a few studies lately that show daily gargling helps to prevent all sorts of mouth and throat diseases.

  97. Gargle. With green tea is best but even just water will do. There have been quite a few studies lately that show daily gargling helps to prevent all sorts of mouth and throat diseases.

  98. Acidophilus. Preferrably Garden of Life’s Primal Defense. It’s expensive, but I’ll take four at a time if I feel a cold coming on, and often feel better by the next day.

  99. Acidophilus. Preferrably Garden of Life’s Primal Defense. It’s expensive, but I’ll take four at a time if I feel a cold coming on, and often feel better by the next day.

  100. What works for me:Exercise (even just walking around the block a few times) in fresh air every day– it’s hard here in Vancouver because it gets dark early in the wintertime, but it makes such a difference!
    Eating real food from real ingredients — if I can’t pronounce an ingredient then I make it a “sometimes” food.
    Taking time to de-stress, even if it means my house isn’t as clean as I want it to be and some errands don’t get run.
    That said, I’m currently fighting off something and I had a stomach bug last month. I think I’m probably lucky it’s not worse though — my daughter has molars coming in and a nasty cough so I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be even somewhat rested.

  101. What works for me:Exercise (even just walking around the block a few times) in fresh air every day– it’s hard here in Vancouver because it gets dark early in the wintertime, but it makes such a difference!
    Eating real food from real ingredients — if I can’t pronounce an ingredient then I make it a “sometimes” food.
    Taking time to de-stress, even if it means my house isn’t as clean as I want it to be and some errands don’t get run.
    That said, I’m currently fighting off something and I had a stomach bug last month. I think I’m probably lucky it’s not worse though — my daughter has molars coming in and a nasty cough so I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be even somewhat rested.

  102. Stay warm! Wear your hat, scarf, gloves when you’re out…sounds like such a no-brainer, but it can make such a difference. Gloves also help protect those poor hands that are so chapped from all the washing!

  103. Stay warm! Wear your hat, scarf, gloves when you’re out…sounds like such a no-brainer, but it can make such a difference. Gloves also help protect those poor hands that are so chapped from all the washing!

  104. I’m glad this came up because I’ve been wondering something.If my preschooler brings home a cold, should I just allow myself to get it so that I’m making antibodies to pass along to my 4 month old?
    I’m not really worried about me, for the most part, because she generally just brings home colds and we’ve all had our flu shots. The baby, on the other hand, well, if I can help him stay healthy or have a milder form of the cold, I’d gladly do it.

  105. I’m glad this came up because I’ve been wondering something.If my preschooler brings home a cold, should I just allow myself to get it so that I’m making antibodies to pass along to my 4 month old?
    I’m not really worried about me, for the most part, because she generally just brings home colds and we’ve all had our flu shots. The baby, on the other hand, well, if I can help him stay healthy or have a milder form of the cold, I’d gladly do it.

  106. @professor mama- i am so glad that you are back on the sauce! just kidding, sort of, remember when we were trying to figure out if a glass of wine would be ok? :)seriously, though, it makes me sad that my immunity is so crappy, too! so much for building up my antibodies to pass along to the bean. argh! this cough! blergh.
    stay well, everyone…

  107. @texture amy,I’m doing that inadvertently with my 2 year old. My 4 year old has always got somethign or other, passes it on to me in a mild (and sometimes not) form, and my 2 year old either comes out with it, or is covered due to nursing. My ped assures me her first year at pre-school/kindergarten next year, will be a lot easier as she has already started to build up hre immune system, which my son never did. Hope it’s tru.

  108. @texture amy,I’m doing that inadvertently with my 2 year old. My 4 year old has always got somethign or other, passes it on to me in a mild (and sometimes not) form, and my 2 year old either comes out with it, or is covered due to nursing. My ped assures me her first year at pre-school/kindergarten next year, will be a lot easier as she has already started to build up hre immune system, which my son never did. Hope it’s tru.

  109. Just a note on the whole “building up your immune system by catching lots of colds” thing that they tell us about kids in daycare. Back when I first started working in a hospital, they told us during the employee orientation meeting that most people get lots of colds for the first 6 months and then are mostly ok. This seemed to be true for me even though I had virtually no patient contact.

  110. I’m with CaliBoo about the warm mist humidifier–I try to clean out with bleach often but I have to admit that I do this once a month, tops, because we’re always using them. I put it on full blast all night and it makes Little Boy’s room like a rain forest–it helps with his eczema and he’s barely had a runny nose this season.I heard on NPR (http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/200901023) that rhinovirus (the virus that causes colds) doesn’t live in environments over 85 degrees F, so I don’t think that humidifier would harbor cold germs (I guess it could have mildew and bacteria, which is why one should bleach every week). There’s also other interesting info on cold germs, for example, they like alcohol, which means they LOVE alcohol-based hand sanitizers (I like CleanWell, which makes a triclosan-free, alcohol-free version).
    I theoretically subscribe to the “we’re meant to be exposed to germs” theory, but there’s also nothing wrong with a little prevention, especially when you need to be a good mom, good employee, good life partner (and gestating Kid #2). Being healthy and productive is important to happiness (plus constantly wiping up vomit and snot while missing work is wearying). I don’t wipe down my doorknobs or sanitize the toys, but we all wash our hands after changing diapers, after going to the bathroom or before eating. And I’m also with Goddess Babe about the virtues of Vit D supplementation. Good for short-term immunity, good for lowering incidences of various auto-immune and degenerative diseases later on.

  111. I’m with CaliBoo about the warm mist humidifier–I try to clean out with bleach often but I have to admit that I do this once a month, tops, because we’re always using them. I put it on full blast all night and it makes Little Boy’s room like a rain forest–it helps with his eczema and he’s barely had a runny nose this season.I heard on NPR (http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/200901023) that rhinovirus (the virus that causes colds) doesn’t live in environments over 85 degrees F, so I don’t think that humidifier would harbor cold germs (I guess it could have mildew and bacteria, which is why one should bleach every week). There’s also other interesting info on cold germs, for example, they like alcohol, which means they LOVE alcohol-based hand sanitizers (I like CleanWell, which makes a triclosan-free, alcohol-free version).
    I theoretically subscribe to the “we’re meant to be exposed to germs” theory, but there’s also nothing wrong with a little prevention, especially when you need to be a good mom, good employee, good life partner (and gestating Kid #2). Being healthy and productive is important to happiness (plus constantly wiping up vomit and snot while missing work is wearying). I don’t wipe down my doorknobs or sanitize the toys, but we all wash our hands after changing diapers, after going to the bathroom or before eating. And I’m also with Goddess Babe about the virtues of Vit D supplementation. Good for short-term immunity, good for lowering incidences of various auto-immune and degenerative diseases later on.

  112. I second the stay home thing. I know that we can’t always do that, but if you are starting to feel run down, cut out all the extras and rest as much as you can.Also, I happened to catch a brief study that showed that men (the guinea pig of choice)who eat a full breakfast recover faster from a cold than those who do not. So, weight loss should not be your prime goal when sick. Take the time and eat healthy, balanced meals. That and some vitamin C have really helped us through some colds this year.
    As far as stomach bugs…if the hand washing doesn’t work, I’m pretty much screwed.

  113. I second the stay home thing. I know that we can’t always do that, but if you are starting to feel run down, cut out all the extras and rest as much as you can.Also, I happened to catch a brief study that showed that men (the guinea pig of choice)who eat a full breakfast recover faster from a cold than those who do not. So, weight loss should not be your prime goal when sick. Take the time and eat healthy, balanced meals. That and some vitamin C have really helped us through some colds this year.
    As far as stomach bugs…if the hand washing doesn’t work, I’m pretty much screwed.

  114. @ella – Your comment struck me as unnecessarily judgmental of moms who wish to take certain steps to keep their kids from getting sick. I disagree that all germs are “good” – perhaps for you, but not for everyone. You forget that not everyone has a healthy immune system like you do.

  115. @ella – Your comment struck me as unnecessarily judgmental of moms who wish to take certain steps to keep their kids from getting sick. I disagree that all germs are “good” – perhaps for you, but not for everyone. You forget that not everyone has a healthy immune system like you do.

  116. Thanks Kristine for the link!So many good ideas on how to keep us healthy (or at least stay sane until we get better).
    Re sanitizing humidifiers – I just use vinegar and rely on the acidity to knock down bacteria/mildew etc – it is probably not as effective as good ol’ bleach but a little more convenient. I’ve heard that the cool mist humidifiers are more prone to nasties too, so we just stick to the warm-mist ones.

  117. 1) Hand washing as soon as the bee gets home from day care. he spreads all sorts of loveliness around the house if we don’t.2) warm humidifier for the bee’s room. if we keep him healthy, the rest of us stay healthy.
    3) Greens + every morning with a glass of oj/grapefruit juice.
    4) Extra vit c, time release kind, when I feel something coming on.
    5) Lots of tea. LIke others, I’m a fan of fresh ginger, slices of lemon, honey, and some whiskey.
    6)I swear by this Chinese herbal tea that I’ve only found in Asian groceries. It’s chrysanthemum tea with slippery elm bark, honey, and who knows what else, in a crystal form. My in-laws send up packages from Vancouver. I don’t read Cantonese so I can’t tell you the name but this stuff is gold. Seriously. I’ve tried other types of chrysanthemum tea and only this stuff has the power to bring us back from the edge of a cold.
    7)Sleep.
    8) staying warm. I have become the Wear-A-Hat mom-wife. *sigh*
    9) Soup. Miso is my fav right now, but any warm, salty broth will do.
    10) Sleeve sneezing/coughing. If only the rest of the world caught on. In Toronto, there was a great public health campaign on this last year.
    11) Keeping my lips from getting chapped. My surefire sign that a cold is coming is chapped lips and, if I don’t keep them VERY moist, I’m done for.
    12) Sitting on my hands. I’m a habitual nail nibbler when I’m thinking/writing so I have to consciously stop myself from doing this as it’s a great way to get sick often. My nails also look better.
    We all just got over the pukey-flu here. That sucked. My husband got a flu shot and his version was much milder (no vomiting) so I’d also add the flu shot to the list. I couldn’t get mine in the fall because I was sick so often…

  118. 1) Hand washing as soon as the bee gets home from day care. he spreads all sorts of loveliness around the house if we don’t.2) warm humidifier for the bee’s room. if we keep him healthy, the rest of us stay healthy.
    3) Greens + every morning with a glass of oj/grapefruit juice.
    4) Extra vit c, time release kind, when I feel something coming on.
    5) Lots of tea. LIke others, I’m a fan of fresh ginger, slices of lemon, honey, and some whiskey.
    6)I swear by this Chinese herbal tea that I’ve only found in Asian groceries. It’s chrysanthemum tea with slippery elm bark, honey, and who knows what else, in a crystal form. My in-laws send up packages from Vancouver. I don’t read Cantonese so I can’t tell you the name but this stuff is gold. Seriously. I’ve tried other types of chrysanthemum tea and only this stuff has the power to bring us back from the edge of a cold.
    7)Sleep.
    8) staying warm. I have become the Wear-A-Hat mom-wife. *sigh*
    9) Soup. Miso is my fav right now, but any warm, salty broth will do.
    10) Sleeve sneezing/coughing. If only the rest of the world caught on. In Toronto, there was a great public health campaign on this last year.
    11) Keeping my lips from getting chapped. My surefire sign that a cold is coming is chapped lips and, if I don’t keep them VERY moist, I’m done for.
    12) Sitting on my hands. I’m a habitual nail nibbler when I’m thinking/writing so I have to consciously stop myself from doing this as it’s a great way to get sick often. My nails also look better.
    We all just got over the pukey-flu here. That sucked. My husband got a flu shot and his version was much milder (no vomiting) so I’d also add the flu shot to the list. I couldn’t get mine in the fall because I was sick so often…

  119. @ella Yeah, thanks. The kids are already frequent flyers at the “Oh, So Your Kids Are REALLY Sick?” hospital. They really need me to be more lax about germs, right?There’s a huge difference between being casual about dirt and being casual about spreading disease.
    One of the girls needed minor surgery last year and we were told in no uncertain terms that if she got sick in the four weeks prior to surgery, it would be canceled because the cold would negatively impact her respiratory system, making anesthesia too dangerous. Joy. It was in the middle of flu season. It was right around several holidays.
    Here’s what we did:
    Disinfect all shared phones/equipment at work prior to each shift.
    Wash hands to the elbow prior to leaving work.
    Wash hands upon arrival at home (everyone).
    Change from work clothes into home clothes.
    Oh, and we never went out. Gah.
    Extreme? Yes. Did it work? Yes. Worth it? Hell, yes.
    People at work were dropping like flies, but we managed to avoid dragging cooties home.
    So…yeah. That whole handwashing thing? IT WORKS. Also, take a multivitamin to fill in the gaps in your diet. Couldn’t hurt, might help.
    Re sleep: I totally believe it’s good for you, but for what it’s worth, in the weeks prior to surgery, I got maybe 2 hours of sleep a night. Sometimes 3! I dragged around work saying “I did not even know I could survive on this amount of sleep. Why am I not dead yet?” on a daily basis, but I didn’t get sick.
    Plural of anecdotes =/= data, but I’m just saying. If you aren’t getting enough sleep and you get sick…don’t be too hard on yourself. Could be unrelated.

  120. @ella Yeah, thanks. The kids are already frequent flyers at the “Oh, So Your Kids Are REALLY Sick?” hospital. They really need me to be more lax about germs, right?There’s a huge difference between being casual about dirt and being casual about spreading disease.
    One of the girls needed minor surgery last year and we were told in no uncertain terms that if she got sick in the four weeks prior to surgery, it would be canceled because the cold would negatively impact her respiratory system, making anesthesia too dangerous. Joy. It was in the middle of flu season. It was right around several holidays.
    Here’s what we did:
    Disinfect all shared phones/equipment at work prior to each shift.
    Wash hands to the elbow prior to leaving work.
    Wash hands upon arrival at home (everyone).
    Change from work clothes into home clothes.
    Oh, and we never went out. Gah.
    Extreme? Yes. Did it work? Yes. Worth it? Hell, yes.
    People at work were dropping like flies, but we managed to avoid dragging cooties home.
    So…yeah. That whole handwashing thing? IT WORKS. Also, take a multivitamin to fill in the gaps in your diet. Couldn’t hurt, might help.
    Re sleep: I totally believe it’s good for you, but for what it’s worth, in the weeks prior to surgery, I got maybe 2 hours of sleep a night. Sometimes 3! I dragged around work saying “I did not even know I could survive on this amount of sleep. Why am I not dead yet?” on a daily basis, but I didn’t get sick.
    Plural of anecdotes =/= data, but I’m just saying. If you aren’t getting enough sleep and you get sick…don’t be too hard on yourself. Could be unrelated.

  121. Handwashing is a really good way to keep bugs away. The thing is, soap and water are very good for that sort of thing but all the extra stuff they try and sell us does more harm than good. Unfortunately anti-bacterials can cause a whole lot more problems than they purport to solve.Here’s an article that summarises it well: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2000/06/05/134718.htm?site=science&topic=latest
    And here’s a fact sheet from the Victorian State Government (Australia):
    http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Antibacterial_cleaning_products?open

  122. 1) sleeve coughing, hand washing, and non-alcohol hand sanitizer (I like Hands2Go) throughout the day, plus the don’t touch elevator buttons regime mentioned earlier.2) NeilMed nasal irrigation – SO much easier to use than Neti pot!
    3) Recourse to a stash of various homeopathic remedies, like oscillo. Maybe there aren’t studies that show these things to work, but on the other hand, using this system has been my cold/flu prevention scheme (plus no flu shot, antibiotics, OTC meds, etc) for 2 decades, during which time I’ve had the flu once, and maybe 10 colds. Maybe I’ve just got a crazy awesome immune system, but hey, I was formula fed!

  123. 1) sleeve coughing, hand washing, and non-alcohol hand sanitizer (I like Hands2Go) throughout the day, plus the don’t touch elevator buttons regime mentioned earlier.2) NeilMed nasal irrigation – SO much easier to use than Neti pot!
    3) Recourse to a stash of various homeopathic remedies, like oscillo. Maybe there aren’t studies that show these things to work, but on the other hand, using this system has been my cold/flu prevention scheme (plus no flu shot, antibiotics, OTC meds, etc) for 2 decades, during which time I’ve had the flu once, and maybe 10 colds. Maybe I’ve just got a crazy awesome immune system, but hey, I was formula fed!

  124. I haven’t seen anyone else mention Sinupret for kids, but we give it to our daughter at the first sign of sniffles and she hasn’t had any nasal stuff last for longer than a day.Instead of chicken soup, we make a spicy vegetarian soup that works well at blasting colds & helping one feel good. It’s essentially a potato, a jalepeno pepper, and a couple of cloves of garlic simmered in broth, then pureed. Spicy and soothing and sinus clearning.
    Google “do the elephant” to see the music video that helped our daughter learn to sneeze into her elbow.
    And to avoid the sandpaper hands that come with winter hand-washing, we apply Unpetroleum Jelly on our hands after each wash.

  125. Our boy is on week 3 of daycare (he’s 18 mo) and he’s already been sick (and given it to us!) twice. Not unexpected, but no fun either!I have a snack idea for replacing that late-night ice cream: frozen raspberries. They’re delicious and healthy and sort of FEEL like ice cream/sherbet since they’re frozen and fruity and sweet. And totally guilt free.

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