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Sooner or later, just about everyone comes down with a miserable cold or case of the flu-and some unfortunate people seem to get infected again and again. Vitamin C is probably the most familiar natural remedy for these viruses, but it’s not the only one.
Head and chest congestion.
Sneezing and cough.
Watery nasal discharge.
Fever and chills.
When to Call Your Doctor
If your temperature is above 100F for three days or ever goes to 103F or higher.
If you have a sore throat combined with a fever that stays above 101F for 24 hours — it may indicate strep throat, which requires antibiotics.
If mucus is green, dark yellow, or brown — this may be a sign of a bacterial infection in the sinuses or lungs.
If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing — this may mean you have pneumonia, especially if you also have a high fever.
Reminder: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking supplements
What It Is
Because the common cold and the flu are both respiratory infections, determining which you have may be difficult. Generally a cold comes on gradually, and the flu strikes suddenly — you can feel fine in the morning and lousy by afternoon. The classic cold symptoms — congestion, sore throat, and sneezing — are usually less severe than those of the flu, which often include fever, extreme fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches.
The amount of time needed to recover is different too. In general, a cold lasts about a week, but symptoms may trouble you for only three or four days if your immune system is in good shape. You can be sick with the flu for up to 10 days, and fatigue can persist for two to three weeks afterward. A cold rarely produces serious complications, but the flu can lead to bronchitis or pneumonia.
What Causes It
Both colds and flu are caused by viruses that attach themselves to the lining of the nose or throat and then spread throughout the upper respiratory system and occasionally to the lungs as well. In response, the immune system floods the area with infection-fighting white blood cells. The symptoms of a cold or the flu aren’t produced by the viruses but are actually the result of the body trying to stave off the infection. Colds and flu are more common in winter, when indoor heating reduces the humidity in the air; this lack of moist air dries out the nasal passages and creates the perfect breeding ground for the viruses.
How Supplements Can Help
The supplements listed in the chart assist your body in combating cold and flu viruses, rather than suppressing symptoms. For this reason, you may not feel better immediately after taking them, but you’ll probably recover faster. In some cases, prompt treatment may prevent a cold or the flu from fully developing. Start the supplements when symptoms first appear and, unless otherwise noted, continue until the illness passes.
What Else You Can Do
Wash your hands often to reduce your chances of catching an infection.
Use a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer in winter to keep indoor air moist.
Consider getting a flu shot. It takes six to eight weeks to build up a viral immunity, so get vaccinated in late fall before the flu season begins. Different flu strains emerge each year, so you’ll need to have an annual shot.
Don’t smoke. Smokers are twice as likely to catch colds as nonsmokers, according to a study from the Common Cold Unit of the Medical Research Council in Salisbury, England.
Dosage: 50,000 IU twice a day until symptoms improve; if needed beyond 7 days, reduce dose to 25,000 IU a day.
Comments: Women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should not exceed 5,000 IU a day.
Dosage: 2,000 mg 3 times a day until symptoms improve; if needed beyond 5 days, reduce dose to 1,000 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Reduce dose if diarrhea develops.
Dosage: 200 mg 5 times a day.
Comments: For prevention, take 200 mg a day in 3-week rotations with the herb astragalus (400 mg a day).
Dosage: 1 lozenge every 3 or 4 hours as needed.
Comments: Do not exceed 150 mg zinc a day from all sources.
Dosage: 400-600 mg 4 times a day with food.
Comments: Each pill should provide 4,000 mcg allicin potential.
Dosage: 125 mg standardized extract 5 times a day for 5 days.
Comments: Don’t use during pregnancy or with high blood pressure.
Source:Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs