think of this posting as a public service announcement.
the average cold lasts seven to ten days. "colds", which in health care we call upper respiratory infections or rhinosinusitis, are caused by viruses. viruses can make you very sick. influenza, or the flu, is a virus and people are made very sick by this virus. viruses do not respond to antibiotics, only bacterial infections do. you are not less sick just because you don't need a antibiotic. you need to take care of your self. rest and fluids will do more for you then all the over the counter cold medicines combined. yes you are contagious and if i give you antibiotics you will not be less contagious, because as i just said, viruses do not respond to antibiotics.
save yourself money, save your health care provider time, and save many people from being exposed to your illness by not going to 'the doctor' when you have a cold. if you find yourself sick after 10 days or getting sicker after about 7, then you can head to your 'doctor' because you may now have a bacterial infection. this sometimes happens because your immune system gets run down from fighting a virus and all that snot in your head is the perfect breading ground for bacteria and wham you have a bacterial infection on top of your virus. this happens more often in people who smoke or have depressed immune systems. so quit smoking, eat well, and get eight hours of sleep a night!
the best thing to do for a cold is to not get one in the first place!!!! so again, take care of yourself! wash your hands like crazy in the winter, especially if you are around kid cuz they are little germ vectors. take more vitamin c -- i swear by emergen-c. i truely believe that one of the reasons i rarely get sick is that i eat garlic and onions in just about everything. they are both in the allium family and contain antiseptic, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial chemicals.
when i feel something coming on i drink a lot of tea and water. many 'hippy' brands of teas (traditional medicinals, yogi tea) make great concoctions for respiratory health and to sooth sore throats. peppermint tea is very good for respiratory health. to clear out those stuffed sinuses do a facial steam: pour near boiling water into a big glass bowl and tent your head over it with a towel and breath in the steam. if you have it, put five drops of a menthol-y essential oil (tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus) and benefit from their antiseptic properties.
i know this is a little different from my usual food-obsessed posts but i'm pretty passionate about health too and i'm a little sick of seeing my patients for colds! and its not even march.