What I do when I have a cold?

As a naturopathic doctor, I also am accustomed to colds and flu.  A summer cold I have not been afflicted with for some time, but my schedule being crazy certainly was a good recipe for disaster. Add a few less hours of sleep, and viruses or bacteria of any kind love my body as a breeding ground. So what do I do for a cold, when my body needs time to recover?

As a new doctor, I used to feel incredibly guilty when I was ill.  So many people needing assistance, how could I not be there to help them?  I of course realized with time that without taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of anyone else.  Plus, being a carrier of the plague is not always a great practice attribute ;)

Here were my approaches (not in any particular order):

  • Take a week off from blog posting
  • Respond to e-mails on a need-to-know basis
  • Focus on my physical self – let’s face it, when the physical self speaks, you can’t help but listen

What did I take to recover? I have a tried-and-true formula for my colds. I’m also lucky that my colds follow a very predictable format over the last several years:

  • Running nose 4-5 hours
  • Sore throat within 1 hour of the running nose
  • Terribly sore throat for 24 hours
  • Sore throat resolves and horribly running nose for 24 hours
  • Stuffed nose for 48 hours
Echinacea spp
Echinacea spp

I know…gross. I’m a doctor…so none of this grosses me out. I think of it as a scientific experiment. My treatment approaches include:

  1. Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep….did I mention sleep?
  2. Vitamin C – once a cold has arrived (regardless of origin) there are numerous research studies that demonstrate high doses of vitamin C help to resolve the cold faster than any placebo
  3. Echinacea species – Echinacea help to boost the immune system in colds and flus and are not overly stimulating
  4. Arnica montana – When my throat is aching, I am a big baby.  I take arnica in homeopathic form to help with the raw aching feeling
  5. My regular supplement regime – If you are currently taking vitamins or supplements for a current health condition, you cannot just stop because you feel like throwing in the towel (literally!). While it feels like you won’t recover, you eventually will
  6. Understanding and kindness from yourself – As a type A person, I am incredibly hard on myself in times where I need more R & R – when I do less, when I think less, when I am less motivated. I wish I could turn off my brain when I’m sick, but I cannot. However, I have learned to understand that while I mentally feel “fine”, my body does not.  We’re here for a human experience, and so we have to have it, even if that means a cold.
  7. Saying thank you to your silent heroes – I have a wonderful partner who was kind and helpful and understanding of my need to rest.  When you feel like a human and not a zombie, always say thank you. It’s free and always appreciated, even if they do not expect it.

Now that I am feeling more like myself, expect more things to come!

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