Be gone virus!
November 20, 2008 10:57 AM   Subscribe

How can I get rid of this cold/virus/URI for good? I had the same thing at the end of September into October and it has returned on 11/14 with a vengeance.

When I had this in Sept it started off as a sore throat/post nasal drip. My doctor said it was an allergy related illness...but it lasted for 3 weeks and progressed to cough and phlegmy cough.... then disappeared.

Now it's back and this time started with a cough with general malaise and sluggishness and then progressed to post-nasal drip and sore throat (to the point of losing my voice) and now cough/runny nose/slightly stuffy nose.

I work in an office environment. I am fastidious about washing my hands during the day and not touching my eyes, mouth etc after touching someone elses personal items (desk supplies etc). I do not have a comprimised immune system but I keep catching this whatever it is.

How can I beef up my immune system and take precautions to not get this multiple times in one season? Any tips for getting rid of it now? I've stayed home from work all this week and stayed in bed and I still feel crappy.
posted by nougat to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
Vitamin D is believed to fight cancer and beef up your immune system. 1000 IU of Vitamin D a day is the usual recommended dose.
posted by wavering at 11:02 AM on November 20, 2008

Vitamin C has been shown in some studies to speed up recovery
posted by Brennus at 11:04 AM on November 20, 2008

I might also look into the possibility of laryngopharyngeal reflux. I had a "cold" with cough that wouldn't go away for 2 months, and it turned out to be the above. The symptoms VERY closely resemble those of a cold. Regular doses of prilosec, changes to diet & dietary habits, and some attempts at destressing, and it's pretty much gone.
posted by tigerbelly at 11:14 AM on November 20, 2008

And then again, it could be two different viruses that you caught via airborne germs (someone sneezed perhaps).

If you're concerned I'd go to your doctor.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 11:21 AM on November 20, 2008

Thanks, I went to the doctor and all he had to say was there is a "nasty bug going around" and that it could be that .... or it could be allergies.
Either way I cannot miss this much work two months in a row.
posted by nougat at 11:55 AM on November 20, 2008

You may want to look for the supplement beta glucans 1,3. It has been clinically trialed for immune system support with good results, and it seems to help my recovery whenever I get a respiratory virus that hangs on.
posted by vers at 12:13 PM on November 20, 2008

Be sure to throw out your toothbrush if you haven't already - you can re-infect yourself by using the same toothbrush after an illness (may not apply to viruses - but it's a $3 gamble). Do you live in a cold area? If so, be sure to humidify your home - dry sinuses/throats cause all sorts of trouble.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:29 PM on November 20, 2008

Eat lots of garlic. [As a bonus vampires won't bother you.]
posted by mandal at 12:36 PM on November 20, 2008

Yeah, i've had very good luck over the years with the following.

1. propolis, a natural byproduct of honey-making, has all sorts of good health woojoo. It's a natural antibiotic, and also seems to pull me out of those weak/sore throat/crappy health ruts. If you live near a bee-keeper, buy it fresh. if not, buy capsules in a good health food store. Take with food, and be aware that it can make you a little stomach queasy (not nauseous) if you take too much.

2. avoid cold drinks...anything cold. This makes a big diff.

3. steam in the mornings. Heat a big pot of boiling water, cover and let cool a tad, then put a towel over both the pot and your head and breathe deeply through mouth (be careful not to burn the water more or back your head away from the pot a bit if it's too hot)

4. malarial sleep, if you can. By which I mean sleep as long and as much as you can, without regard to "not being able to get to sleep the next night". A really excessive amount of sleep can really help bust you out of this rut.

5. if you do yoga, do fish position (straight legs or vrasana legs) and concentrate on breathing deeply through your straightened air pipe. Be careful with your neck.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 1:24 PM on November 20, 2008

also, no need to toss your toothbrush....just disinfect with mouthwash...the alcohol will kill all.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 1:25 PM on November 20, 2008

Reiterating the toothbrush suggestion - or if you don't want to throw it out, soak it in a glass of Listerine overnight. Also, get as much quality sleep as you can on a regular schedule (8+ hrs every night), eat lots of fruit and vegetables, eliminate or reduce caffeine and smoking if applicable until you feel better, take a stress tab type vitamin (high on B-complexes, C and E, antioxidants, and minerals like magnesium and zinc). If you have kids, spouse or partner who comes into contact with the public, get them to take some of the same steps.
posted by aught at 1:27 PM on November 20, 2008

I had a sinus infection that kept coming back and I was given an antibiotic that worked especially well on that type of infection. Also, think about a neti pot. A friend with constant sinus infection started using one and it really helped.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:27 PM on November 20, 2008

Avoid public transport, if at all possible! I asked a similar question years ago, and what has since worked for me is:

- not catching peak-hour tubes with millions of disease-ridden people who don't know what a hanky is
- taking vitamins - a good multivitamin + 1000mg vitamin C daily
- using hand sanitiser after each time you wash your hands, blow your nose, touch anything icky
- eating mainly organic, fresh fruit and veg (I started getting a weekly CSA box and that's the bulk of my diet now)
- getting enough sleep
- sitting in the sun (vitamin D) for as long as possible each day, particularly if you have to deal with a northern hemisphere winter
- 'snuffly soup' - lots of garlic, ginger and shallots (scallions) in boiling water, with as much fresh chilli as you can stand (and a bouillon cube for flavour if you want) - drink a large bowl every hour or so (it should be really, really chilli hot to work those mucous membranes) until it's all gone, then make some more

I still get the occasional infection but they're a lot less frequent now, and certainly nothing like the constant snuffliness i had previously. Which leads me to... are you sure it's just a cold and not a more severe infection (your doc's "nasty bug") that your immune system's actually doing well in fighting? in which case - more bed time and someone kind to feed you soup may be in order, and possibly antibiotics (though not likely if your doc didn't suggest them).

Good luck! I hope you're feeling better soon.
posted by goo at 1:50 PM on November 20, 2008

Saline nose spray. Generic is fine. It will relieve congestion AND kill germs.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:39 PM on November 20, 2008

Now it's back and this time

Once your body creates antibodies to an infection, it cant come back, at least not for a long time (years). Most likely youre just getting sick again or have allergies. Does an anti-histamine help? If not then healthy living tends to help immune system function. Things like eating well, getting a real nights rest every night, leading a less stressful and busy life, and getting in some exercise.

I also use hand sanitizer at my desk at work multiple times a day.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:43 PM on November 20, 2008

Once your body creates antibodies to an infection, it cant come back, at least not for a long time (years). Most likely youre just getting sick again or have allergies. Does an anti-histamine help? If not then healthy living tends to help immune system function. Things like eating well, getting a real nights rest every night, leading a less stressful and busy life, and getting in some exercise.

Anti-histamine helps my nose from running but there is still the cough and phlegm to deal with. It's the exact symptoms as last time...
posted by nougat at 3:32 PM on November 20, 2008

I am not saying this is your problem, but if you don't get better soon be careful and don't put off going to the doctor too long, because if you have a sinus infection or bronchitis, that stuff can kill you.

If you have a lot of phlegm, try boiling some water, putting it in a bowl, and then breathing the steam for five minutes (don't burn yourself, but breathe it when you can stand to have your face over it). For sore throat, gargling with a mixture of salt and hot water also helps. Saline nose spray or a neti pot may also help, either during or as a preventative.

In general terms, you may want to consider getting a flu shot, once you have gotten rid of your current problem. Many work places offer them free.

Hate to say it but I tried everything when I was getting repeated sinus infections and bronchitis. I was getting sick multiple times every winter, it always turned into a sinus infection at least, I was missing work, miserable, and required serious antibiotics and steroids to get rid of the infections, until I started getting allergy shots. You can try taking antihistamines (you could be allergic to mold, which will hit in the winter) like Zyrtec which is available without a prescription (Zyrtec is the one that works best for me, better than Claritin). However, if it does turn out to be allergies, you might also eventually need to go to an allergist to address the root of the problem. Allergy shots have significantly helped me.
posted by gudrun at 11:26 PM on November 20, 2008

If all else fails, go for the hot toddies. Not once, not twice, but thrice. Three hot toddies (brandy or whiskey - your choice), then sleep for as long as you can (14 hours is perfect). If you drink the hot toddies fast enough, the 12+ hours sleep can be yours. I've cured a myriad of nagging illnesses by this method - it works!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:58 AM on November 21, 2008

My bet is that you have an allergy to mold which crops up this time of year. I was in the same boat as you for many years. I was able to document this ailment via my journal and noticed something odd. For one year, 2004 in fact, I was free of any symptoms. The only thing my journal indicted was that, at this time, I was taking Cod Fish Liver Oil capsules. I repeated use of this supplement this year to see if I would get the same effect... sure enough a lot of my symptoms were relieved. It took about two weeks to notice a difference. I can not pin point why this would be the result but you can give it a shot and report back your experience.

Also, if this is really bugging you I would suggest a visit to an allergist. The relief you will receive is worth its weight in gold... to me anyway. As others suggested try the nasal irrigation. I like this one called Neilmed. It really helps and is easier to use than the neti pot. Best of luck to you and I hope this might help. I would love to know if anyone else gets the same mileage out of the Cod Fish Liver oil as I did.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:06 PM on November 21, 2008

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