Saturday, January 27, 2007

it's not the cold; it's the cold medicine

A few weeks ago a friend of mine came to work with a cold (no doubt because he wanted the rest of us to share it) and he complained that the cold was making him feel "not all there". I told him it was the cold medicine that gave him that feeling, not the cold. He didn't believe me, insisting that cold always make him feel this way. Of course when I asked him if he ever had a cold without taking cold medicine, he said "no".

I'll bet that a lot of people think this. Since they were children, they have started taking cold medicine at the first sign of a cold or flu, and as a result they think the resulting symptoms of cold medicine --drowsiness or racing heart, inability to find a comfortable sleeping position, a feeling of being disconnected-- are cold and flu symptoms but they are more likely drug symptoms.

I've been suffering from the flu all week. It started with a sore throat on Sunday, moved into my ears and chest for Monday, chest and stomach issues on Tuesday, etc. as my immune system chased it around my organs all week (that's why the flu is so exciting, it's like a new surprise disease every day).

I didn't take antihistimines or cough syrup or those combo cold medicines (I only took Pepto-bismol-like medicines for my stomach and those throat-numbing cough drops for the cough) and I felt pretty good all week except for the particular symptoms that I was suffering from. Sure, the ear-ache and chest cough were unpleasant, but I had very little trouble getting comfortable or getting to sleep, and when I was awake I felt alert and connected. I was able to put in a full day's work from home, and when people asked me how I was feeling, I always had to answer, "Not bad actually, I'm just staying home so as not to pass this on." (hoping that some of them would get the hint).

Then one night, my nose was so blocked up that I knew it would keep me from sleeping so I took one of those combo cold medicines. Within minutes I had those other "cold" symptoms. I was feeling disconnected, my heart was racing, I tossed and turned all night unable to get comfortable, and the feeling of being disconnected lasted well into the next day.

So anyway, I'm not a medical doctor so take this for what it's worth, but I find that a cold or flu is much less miserable if I avoid the cold medicine (specifically, anything continging antihistimines or decongestants).

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