Health

How to Have Your Best Cold Ever

dvMy son came home from Grandma and Grandpa’s house at 2:45 a.m. recently. They said that he was crying and coughing and that neither could be stopped. As he has asthma whenever he is stricken with a virus (a cold, in this case), my parents had done the various inhaler treatments throughout that day, following his morning announcement that he had a “sore throat” – always a bad sign in our house. A parent of a child with viral-induced asthma knows that the plain-old cold will be anything but ho-hum.

As the mom of an asthmatic child, I do whatever it takes to keep the viruses at bay. Not so easy here in the Midwest when we spend lots of time together indoors for half the year.

Below are some of the techniques that I employ now to get through a cold.

1. Take a warm bath morning and night until you’re better.

2. Blow your nose until it’s clear.

3. Take the acetaminophen/Ibuprofen without (much) complaint.

4. Sit under a towel with a steamy bowl of water and eucalyptus essential oils for a few minutes throughout the day with a damp washcloth pressed on side of the face. (More on this below)

5. Allow me to put rub some sort of oil on the tip of nose/upper lip. (Again, more below)

The warm bath is relaxing, helps to distract him from feeling under the weather, and loosens congestion. The nose-blowing is just obvious; get that junk out of there, for goodness sake! The steady-stream of pain/fever reducer helps his body to keep the focus on healing, not on managing the pain of a sore throat/congestion in the face/head area. Yes, I am all for letting the body do its work of fending-off those pesky viruses on its own, but allowing a kid to cry/suffer with a fever/congestion/pain doesn’t seem like a smart way to handle things. I know that fever is the body’s natural defense, and that it is good for us. Save it for the adults, I say. What culture has ever existed that did not do what was within its means to relieve pain? I know of none, except for (perhaps) the Shakers, and, well, most of them aren’t around anymore. Will a child grow-up to be a better person and have a stronger constitution if you withhold these? Maybe. I, for one, give pain reliever to my child, and I take it myself when needed. Boys, especially, do need to “be tough”, in my opinion, but that can be encouraged when it is a scratch, a bloody knee/elbow, or a shot at the doctor’s office.

As for the eucalyptus oil, I do not go heavy on it – just a couple of drops in the glass bowl (okay, it’s a rectangular Pyrex-type container) after the 1 or 2 inches of water has been heated in the microwave. I have my son either lie in bed on his stomach with a pillow between him and the water, or if it is daytime, he sits at the table with it. I drape a towel over him, and set the stove timer for about 3 minutes. The towel is standard bath-sized, so there is plenty of air coming in still. Once this is done, we do the nose blowing, and then I apply any oil that we have on hand, usually scented with a few drops of lavender, too. Lavender is soothing and somewhat speeds healing, and is especially effective when the skin is moist from the steam. Doing this helps my son avoid getting a red, inflamed nose from all of the blowing/vigorous wiping with plain old tissues or the (tasteful) roll of toilet paper that is a constant-companion in our home whenever a cold strikes. Oh, I forgot to mention that if my son complains of an area of his face hurting – like one side or the other from sinus congestion, I also have him hold a dampened, microwave-warmed washcloth to the area, too, while he is under the towel. He does not know it, but I do add a bit of olive (or other) oil to the cloth, along with some lavender to make it smell nice. Again, my focus is on moving the healing process along.

As for our environment, I do a few things in my attempts to stop the spread of the illness. I say attempts as we tend to be sharers here. As soon as my son is up for the day, I open his bedroom windows to let-in fresh air. I put a new pillowcase on his kid-sized pillow so that he has something clean to lie on later, and because pillowcases often have a way of functioning as Kleenex, too, when no one is looking. I wipe-down the door handles/common light switches, and always have a separate hand towel for my son. I know, though, that he often forgets to use his, so a new one is put out daily.

Chicken soup, of course, is a must, as is a morning and evening cup of tea. In our son’s case, I encourage him to drink it without complaint (after all, this is ANOTHER thing to do!) by letting him spoon in the honey – local, of course, and pour/stir the tea. He’s 6, and that might seem a bit dangerous, but we’re talking about a small pitcher of water with at best ½ inch of water in it. We were out of honey when this most recent virus struck. Once the weekend was over, my son and I drove a few miles to the honey lady’s house, and picked-up 3 lbs. – just $9. I look at it as a little adventure for us (him), and as a way of encouraging the elderly honey lady to keep doing what she does.

I would say that we put a ½ hour in the morning and then night into the above mentioned tasks. I make the time to do this because we move through a cold in about 3 days when I follow these steps. A slight cough might linger, but I’m usually done with giving any sort of pain reliever, etc., by the end of day 2, and can stop the excessive baths/steam treatments by the end of day 3.