Heal me, Hivemind!
March 13, 2009 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm unbelievably sick, probably from running around in the freezing rain. What can I do to get better by tomorrow?

I really want to go to the Austin meetup tomorrow (and I have Spamalot tickets on Sunday), but as of today my head feels like a balloon, making driving in the rain and cold, in a new car I've only driven for 15 miles seem like a dangerous proposition.

Is there anything I can do today that will make me feel well enough to drive tomorrow and keep me from being the Typhoid Mary of Texas? (Actually, I don't have a fever, so I'm probably not contagious...or is that just urban legend?)

I've already made veggie and chicken soup from scratch, am drinking tea like a Brit stranded in Algiers, and have tried a variety of cold meds without much effect. (I can't take anything with psuedoephedrine in it, which limits my cold med options.)

Surely there's something in the hivemind bag of tricks that can make my head clear enough to drive.
posted by dejah420 to Health & Fitness (36 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Go to sleep.
posted by phunniemee at 12:55 PM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

Have you tried mucinex? This is more of a bandaid thing, but works really well imo. Be warned if you're already taking a lot of DXM you should wait several hours.
posted by shownomercy at 12:59 PM on March 13, 2009

Take a huge dose of Vitamin C.
posted by Ugh at 1:01 PM on March 13, 2009

Drink a bowl of chilli soup (chilli, garlic, ginger and scallions/shallots, with a bouillon cube for flavour if you want; should be as chilli-hot as you can stand); have a long hot shower, directing the spray on your head (or sinuses if they are particularly hurting) then go to sleep.
posted by goo at 1:02 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

I've never heard of the fever thing before, but it's not true. In winter time, a fever is useful to distinguish if you have a cold or the flu, most of the time a cold doesn't cause a fever, and most of the time the flu does. Both are highly contagious.
posted by TungstenChef at 1:03 PM on March 13, 2009

Sleep. Sleep. Sleeeeeep.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:04 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sleep is your friend.
posted by kimdog at 1:06 PM on March 13, 2009

This thread's going to be anecdotal, but for me, sleeping a lot in heat works. I'm talking jacking the thermostat to 75F+ Once I start to sweat under the covers, it literally feels like my illness is sweating out of my body. It's probably a placebo affect, but it seems to work for me.
posted by jmd82 at 1:10 PM on March 13, 2009

Sorry to hear you can't take pseudoephedrine, as that's really the singular miracle drug for head congestion. You should definitely take a zinc lozenge (in stores near the cough drops); it's arguable how effective zinc is but it definitely can't hurt and it's a top candidate for making you better. Red meat is also high in zinc, but I'm not sure how much dosage you get that way.

Regardless, how you feel tomorrow will hinge greatly on the quality of your sleep tonight, so you should get to bed early. Try to load up on caffeine-free herbal teas tonight, which will help you sleep. A hot toddy (1/3 whiskey, 1/3 honey, 1/3 lemon juice) helps some people, including myself.

Other than that, you have to let the cold run its course. The only thing that has any chance of stopping that is a big dose of zinc early on, and you're probably too far along for that to work.
posted by crapmatic at 1:12 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

When my head feels like it's chock full o' snot (lovely image, I know) Mucinex is sometimes the silver bullet that makes it better. That and a decongestant (you could maybe call your doctor for their rec for one that is over the counter and doesn't have pseudoephedrine). Drink a lot of water as well as tea, take a hot shower, blow your nose as needed and sleeeeeep.
posted by MadamM at 1:13 PM on March 13, 2009

1. Stay hydrated, very well hydrated. Drink until you have to pee, then pee and drink some more. Keep drinking. Then drink more. Don't go to the point of being dangerous, of course. But drink a lot.

2. Sleep. And not with sleeping drugs, which can disturb your REM sleep so that you don't really sleep. No caffeine for 8 hours before bed tonight (some medicines have truckloads of caffeine, so watch that). Herbal tea only. Also make sure the medicine you take doesn't have alcohol which can dehydrate and mess with sleep.

3. Take some echinacea. Some studies suggest it might be helpful. Maybe not, but worth a try.

4. Throat lozenges containing zinc have been shown to help prevent a cold.
posted by brenton at 1:23 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can't take pseudoephedrine either. If you can take it, phenylephrine is an alternative available as Sudafed PE, Robitussin CF, Dayquil, or Tylenol Sinus Congestion & Pain. If, like me, you can't take that either, you could try a Vick's Vapor Inhaler (looks like a chapstick) which contains levmetamfetamine. Also, you can clear your nose a little by holding your breath. I like to do that in conjunction with the blowing against pressure method on that page.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:32 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

My mother swears by Comtrex, and I have to admit that once when my whole family got the flu (and she had the worst of it), one day of taking that seemed to clear her up faster than the rest of us by about a week.
posted by metalheart at 1:34 PM on March 13, 2009

Eat 5 oranges. Vitamin C, baby. And then sleep.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 1:40 PM on March 13, 2009

Response by poster: Can't sleep...6 year old will eat me. But seriously folks...

Can't do the chili thing (cause all I have is that insanely volcanic Asian red sauce), but I do have cayenne pepper. Added a bunch to my soup. Hot toddies sound fabu, and as soon as Man gets home to watch the kidlet, roasted garlic, hot toddies, sleep and more soup are on my list.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I found another thread that had reports that the "multiple symptom" meds like dayquil were pretty useless, so I'm going to stop taking them (they're not working anyway) and go back to aspirin, tea, and prayer. (Dear FSM, please to extend your noodley appendage and make me well enough to go share meatballs with mefites. For thine is the pasta and the power, Amen.)
posted by dejah420 at 1:40 PM on March 13, 2009

Best answer: My general treatment for this sort of thing is a steaming hot bath a few shots of Nyquil and then getting into a multi-blanketed bed and getting as much sleep as possible. Make sure in staying hydrated that your electrolytes don't get out of wack. Have a banana or something with salt in it.

Also, I don't mean to be all hand-wavey but if you are feeling sick please stay home from the meetup. As much as I'd love to meet you, there will be a lot of people from out of town whose trips would be ruined if they came down with what it sounds like you have.
posted by jessamyn at 1:45 PM on March 13, 2009

It's weird, antisocial, and pretty disgusting, but munching on cloves of garlic really clears the system temporarily. Or, if you wanted, you could get garlic oil pills - not as effective tho
posted by Think_Long at 1:46 PM on March 13, 2009

This may not be help now depending how long you've been feeling sick, but at the first sign of a cold we take Irwin Naturals Immuno Shield (one six times a day) - available at health food stores - and Emergen-C (like 3 times a day). Works wicked good for clearing it up faster, but you have to start early.

I also take Muscinex (the type with the cough suppressant as well or it dries me out too much) if I'm really stuffy.

As a side note, you probably are contagious, so if you do go, I would bring a lot of antibacterial hand stuff to limit spreading to others. And it probably wasn't from the freezing rain - that's a myth. It's more likely you caught a bug 2 days ago.
posted by texas_blissful at 1:54 PM on March 13, 2009

Astragalus helps me with colds. Or at least I think it does, I'm not an herbalist, but it seems to help. Mind the drug interactions listed, though, and investigate it thoroughly if it's something you're interested in. Because I'm not your herbalist or doctor.
posted by Issithe at 2:16 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Saline nose spray really helps. It kills germs and clears out the gunk.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:48 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you have a cold the most effective treatment is lots of rest supplemented with pseudoephedrine (REAL pseudoephedrine, not that new crap) and an NSAID like naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, acetominophen etc. Whichever you like best.

There's no magic bullet for getting over a cold in one day. But real pseudoephedrine is as close to a wonder drug as you'll find.
posted by Justinian at 3:47 PM on March 13, 2009

1. A vial of oregano oil with high carvacrol taken every hour will have you better in 1-2 days, but you might be in walking shape by tomorrow if you start asap. It's a powerful everything; the oregano plant is said to be the only thing that survived the a-bomb (myth maybe, but evocative).

2. Neti or learn how to neti every 4 hours if you can breathe out of your nose still. If you've never done it before it's like learning to ride a bike, it can be hard at first but becomes really simple. You have to find your own balance of body position, muscle memory, and salt. (Nasal spray doesn't actually get the gunk out, you're just spraying liquid. Netiing actually cleans the entire cavity.)

3. Allegra. This stuff is incredible.

4. Relax. Rest, no stress. Any stress makes it harder for your immune system. Really concentrating on relaxing does help you prevent illness (just like all of the above) and heal faster. This can also be combined with some exercise to get the blood flowing faster through the areas that need the circulation.

There's too much on the web about all these things to find the best stuff all I can say is that they work for me every time. I like mucinex too. Persistent care and you should be better.
posted by scazza at 3:52 PM on March 13, 2009

First off, the rain cant get you sick. Colds come from viruses not from the literal cold. You most likely have a virus that you picked up a few days ago. You may or may not be contagious tomorrow.

There's really nothing you can do but wait for your immune system to fight the virus that's causing this. Things like Zinc might help shave one day off a cold if taken early enough, but its too late for that now. Echinaciea, garlic, vitamin C, and the rest are great if you love the placebo effect with the added bonus of having a lighter wallet.

Try to sleep as much as you can, but if you cant drive today its unlikely you'll be able to drive tomorrow, unless youre near the end of this illness.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:57 PM on March 13, 2009

A couple more things. I've tried the garlic cure and not found that it helps. On the same note, I understand the chili thing, but if you want hot there's nothing hotter or more antibiotic than the oregano oil.

Absolutely stay hydrated. I use Ultima which is a sugar-free electrolyte drink.

Everyone is basically saying the same things but with different tools. I highly recommend mine since I find them really powerful and miraculous, but you have to find what works for you.
posted by scazza at 4:00 PM on March 13, 2009

Oh and before you take the Kevin Trudeaus in this thread seriously its important to be mindful of the fact that we simply dont know the long term consquences of taking megadosages of vitamins. Not to mention large doses of vitamin A is toxic so dont pop 6 centrum hoping to get all that vitamin C, because its packaged with vitamin A, not to mention iron which is also toxic in large doses. Oh, the Chinese manufacturered vitamin C you buy at the store has small levels of contaminants which is safe when you take the normal dose, but at megadose levels who knows how much mercury you just ate. On top of that, no one really knows what long term effects some of these herbal medicines might have. That oregano enema sounds like a great idea today, but colon cancer tomorrow could be in your future.

Whatever you do research the risks, but if oregano and garlic did ANYTHING it would be handed out at schools, hospitals, and probably be in our drinking water right now.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:07 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

in addition to hydration, here is my home remedy that provides overwhelming, if short-lived, relief:

bring some fresh chopped ginger, water, and mouthwash to a boil. lean over gross concocation and put towel over your head/face and inhale for as long as possible. This will seriously clear your sinuses and relieve some of the pressure, at least long enough to fall asleep. If you have someone around who can give you a head/face/shoulder massage, this will also do wonders for feeling better.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 5:13 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: For the record, oregano oil can be really, really, REALLY toxic if taken internally. I use a lot of essential oils in my business, and was trained in the chemistry of formulations by nurse practitioners in England and Scotland, where EOs are often used in clinical practice.

Dr. Cass Ingram who is considered an expert on oregano essential oil, talks about mislabeled oregano oil in his book The Cure is in the Cupboard. He states that although many companies list products such as wild oregano or oil of oregano in their catalogs, "the problem is that the commercially available oil is almost exclusively thyme oil or marjoram oil," neither of which possesses the same medicinal properties as true oregano essential oil. Furthermore, Ingram states that thyme oil is usually made from a non-oregano plant, such as Thymus capitus from Spain, and even though it comes from an edible herb, thyme oil may be toxic. Various papers have been written to support this assertion, but I don't have the energy to go find them right now.

Because I use a ton of essential oils each year, I have a fully stocked (and locked) 7 foot tall, 4 foot wide cabinet of oils, and even though almost all of my oils are from growers I trust, and all of them are certified, I still run a spectrograph analysis on each oil before I use it for anything other than soapmaking. (Where saponification reduces them to primarily an aromatherapy agent, rather than being a topical modality.)

Oregano has various chemotypes with differing essential oil composition of thymol, linalool + terpinene-4-ol, linalool, caryophyllene + germacren D, or germacren D as chief components. In my 5 years of testing, every oregano oil that I've seen has been very high in thymol, and is therefore not suitable for preparing oregano essential oil intended for internal consumption. (It's fantastic for external uses.)

Just FYI. (Also, oregano, basil and thyme can cause breakthru bleeding, early onset of labor, and miscarriage...it's bad juju if you're pregnant. I'm not, thank gods, but just putting the info out there that it's among the oils to be avoided during those times.)

That said, if it were possible to overdose on menthol and eucalyptus from topical application, they'd have me on a stretcher. I believe it's possible I may be walking in a cloud of the stuff at this point.

Thanks for all the help gang, but I think it's probably a safe bet that I should avoid the meetup tomorrow. Even if I feel better, (and of course right now I feel like death onna metholated stick), I don't want to share the love. It would truly suck to be sick like this far from home, and with things you need to or want to do. Plus, I started running a fever about 2 hours ago, and it's steadily climbing to close to 102, even with tylenol,...which suggests to me that I'm likely to be a lot more sick soon than I am now.
posted by dejah420 at 5:38 PM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

Oof, I hope it doesn't turn out to be the flu. Get lots of rest and I hope you feel better soon!
posted by TungstenChef at 6:11 PM on March 13, 2009

Sounds like you're doing all the right things, ditching the multi action tablets, taking aspirin, remaining hydrated, staying away from the oils (note to scazza up there: antibiotics won't help a cold or flu, so assuming oregano even does what you say it would be the wrong thing to take).

Please also ignore the advice about Vitamin C megadoses. The idea comes from Linus Pauling. Great chemist, awesome physicist, knew nothing about biology. Sadly his double Nobel prizes meant his idea was taken seriously but it's been repeatedly debunked and there is lots of evidence showing that Vitamin C will do nothing for you. I hope you get lots of rest and feel better soon!
posted by shelleycat at 8:58 PM on March 13, 2009

This sounds strange, but try putting Vicks Vapo-Rub on your feet. Rub in well, then put on socks to protect your sheets. Go to sleep. You will wake up feeling much better, as the Vapo-rub will clear out your sinuses. Good luck. This treatment has worked wonders for us many times.
posted by ragtimepiano at 12:38 AM on March 14, 2009

Eat a pineapple. That is, eat an entire pineapple in one sitting, all by yourself. Make it a meal. Then make a hot toddy if you have some booze handy; whiskey, sugar, honey, hot water. Then go to bed and sleep.
posted by zardoz at 1:25 AM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nasal lavage aka neti is definitely the way to go. Every few hours that you are not breathing clearly. I was not a believer until I finally tried it. Getting the mix right (or using pre-prepared packets), and using warm water is key to zero sting. Do not combine with zinc nasal products.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:29 AM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

First off, the rain cant get you sick. Colds come from viruses not from the literal cold.

Oh you crazy germ theory people... I suspect Dejah420 knows about microbes. IANAD, but it would not surprise me in the least if hypothermia and stress affected your immune system.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:42 AM on March 14, 2009

Well as I said, you have to find what works for you.

As for the oregano oil, I use this one for it's high carvacrol content, diluted, but I've used the GNC brand and others as well. You asked for a quick fix, and OO's the stuff for a quick fix. OO is completely safe, commonly sold everywhere through many national brands and wholistic chains like Whole Foods and Vitamin Shoppe in capsules and tinctures. If it were toxic then we'd have a national poisoning epidemic on our hands. Everyone who I've seen take it including myself have been completely fine, better than fine.

I assume common sense is used and would never recommend ODing on anything. You seem to be missing something in your research, it seems like you're mainly addressing mislabeling which is not what I'm recommending. Mislabeling is out there, but if you're looking for the carvacrol content, if it's wild, usually from Turkey, you're on the right track. That is why I use what I do, why the garlic cure I feel does more harm to your stomach than good.

Good luck, I hope you're feeling better.
posted by scazza at 11:36 AM on March 14, 2009

We get sick in the cold because viruses like cold, dry air. And yea, I suspect the drop in body temp due to freezing rain would be a problem for one's immune system.
posted by scazza at 11:39 AM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow- thanks for the oil info- that is really useful!

For colds I find that hot and sour soup, a hot bath, and a long sleep in an overheated room with a hot water bottle does pretty well. But not always.

Get better!
posted by small_ruminant at 1:24 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

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