7.56am. I cannot breathe. I’m running out of oxygen and my head is about to implode. My eyes are shut because I don’t want to be here when it happens. Eyes eventually flutter ope and I realise, this isn’t an apocalypse, it is my room. I think I have a horrible cold with 100% congestion. Somehow, I’m managing to sneeze at least 8 times every hour.
Selfpity-infused-melodrama aside, I’m scheduled to work an uncancellable shift in the next 24 hours, which is incompatible with a cold. My plan is to advance from all fronts, and assault the cold using maximum force. There is to be no retreat, and no surrender. I quickly and carefully lay out my arsenal:
11.15 Chicken soup #1. Ingredients: Cubed chicken, Cameroonian peppers, carrots, potatoes and Heinz chicken and sweet corn tinned soup.
A 2007 New York times article featured the work of Dr Stephen Rennard, a professor from University of Nebraska Medical centre. In his study, Dr Rennard found that chicken soup in healthy volunteers inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cells that fight infection. The theory is that inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells helps the body reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.
11.40 Towel over head over bucket of hot water containing Vapour Rub and Aboniki balm. 30 minutes.
Vapour rub, an ointment made by Proctor & Gamble contains 4 active ingredients – levomenthol, eucalyptus oil (1.5%), turpentine oil and camphor. These are all traditional medicines used for their decongestant and soothing properties. Aboniki, a stronger smelling balm made by the Nigerian manufacturer, J.C Udeozor contains a higher concentration of the active ingredient eucalyptus (30%), alongside meth sol, methylsal BP and camphor in a petroleum jelly base. When breathed in, the active ingredients in the vapour allegedly help relieve the symptoms of a blocked nose.
12.30 2 x Lemsip cold and flu capsules
According to Netdoctor, these capsules have 3 active ingredients: paracetamol to relieve mild/moderate pain and fever, phenylephedrine, a decongestant and caffeine, a mild stimulant to help reduce fatigue.
13.30 Cross trainer -10 minutes
13.40 Treadmill – 20 minutes
According to WebMD, exercise has a positive effect on the immune system, and is able to cause a “jumpstart” by increasing the number and aggressiveness of natural killer cells by as much as 50 – 300%. Dr Andrea Hulse, a family practitioner States in a CNN article that light jogging is not only safe during a flu, but also acts as a natural decongestant, as long as it isn’t high intensity endurance training which could put a strain on the immune system.
14.15 Steam room.
There is a little bit of controversy regarding the effectiveness of steam rooms in curing common colds. Some suggest that the steam by itself can act as a decongestant, while others maintain that steam by itself is ineffective as a decongestant, especially over certain temperatures. I used it anyway. 20 minutes.
14.45 Jacuzzi 15 mins. Purely for relaxation sake, to give my body a chance to do its magic.
15.30 Lunch – steaming hot fish pie + large latte
16.30 Second dose of Lemsip cold and flu capsules.
17.00 Second dose of chicken soup for me and the little man
20.00 Feeling considerably better. I’m almost completely decongested but nose is still quite runny. I’m also sneezing about half as much as I was 12 hours ago (about 4 times an hour).
7am following day. I’m down to approximately 2 sneezes/hour. Nasal passages successfully decongested. I feel energetic and as I type this, on my way to work!
Disclaimer: Please seek a doctors advice before starting on any new medication, especially if you are on other regular medication. This is purely a personal account and not a promotion for any of the products mentioned in the article.