Back to cold basics

I’ve had a pretty intense cold since Thursday. Sore throat, runny nose, congestion, coughing, the works. It’s been rough. Made worse, or at least not made better, by the fact that I’m allergic to acetaminophen (Tylenol) which is in just about every over-the-counter cold medicine. Today, I saw a physician to rule out strep throat. My test was negative for strep (thankfully), but that’s about all going to the doctor was good for. After listening to me rattle off my symptoms, she advised me to pick up some DayQuil on my way home. When I interrupted her to say that I’m allergic to Tylenol (this information was listed in my paperwork) she was very surprised. “Really, that’s too bad. DayQuil is perfect for treating the symptoms you described.” All I’m thinking is great, thanks for telling me what I already know. To make a long story short, she didn’t have any recommendations for non-Tylenol cold meds other than Sudafed and Ibuprofen. I’ve been taking those since Friday. Since I often have to turn to old school remedies, I thought I’d share some of my favorites here.

Hot tea with copious amounts of honey (1 to 1 ½ tablespoons). The honey thickens the tea and helps to soothe your throat but push down phlegm.

Gargle with saltwater. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt to an 8-ounce glass of warm water to temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.

Chicken soup. Check out this explanation from the Mayo Clinic:

Generations of parents have spooned chicken soup into their sick children. Now scientists have put chicken soup to the test, discovering that it does have effects that might help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining.


Hot Toddy. An age-old night-time cold remedy, make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add a teaspoon of honey, a small shot of whiskey or bourbon, and a squeeze of lemon. This mixture may ease congestion, soothe the throat and help you sleep.

While these remedies may not be as effective as proven cold medicines, they do the trick when you don’t have other options. The upside? Each is tasty and enjoyable on the way down. Wishing everyone well and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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