I’ve got a cold

SudaFedNothing unusual about that but as with most of my experiences these days it prompts a little reflection.

This one is my first this year and it’s surprised me. I went to the gym on Thursday, first exercise since before Xmas, and it went well and I felt pretty good that evening. But then Friday the symptoms began: a blocked nose, increasing tiredness and a bit of an ache. I woke up in the middle of the night breathing with difficulty, raided our stash of miscellaneous pharmaceuticals and waited patiently for a dose of phenylephrine to sort out the congestion. It did.

I’ve had my fair share of colds but they’ve changed in character. I especially remember those in the 80s when we were living in Switzerland and I did a fair amount of travelling through Europe. I would get a cold most years, sometimes two, and it would be a pretty full blown affair. I would get industrial grade congestion to the extent that it seemed that I had to choose between talking and breathing. I relieved this with a nasal spray but that wouldn’t last very long and I’d be thoroughly bunged up again. You had to be careful not to overdo it, if you dosed too hard it seemed like you were decongesting your brain.

It seems to be accepted that you can’t cure a cold. You’ve just got to be patient and let it run its course which it will generally do with six days. I used to reckon on three but I guess that’s days 2-4 when it’s at its most visible and debilitating. Come day five you’ve still got a cold but you know it’s on the way out. That’s when you’ve got to be careful. If you’re not then you’ll get the common cold equivalent of a double dip recession and you’ll put yourself back to day 2.

More recently my colds have been less about congestion and more about a general achiness and because they haven’t matched my previous experience I haven’t been so careful about managing myself through them. As a result they’ve lasted for a couple of weeks and more and that’s no fun. Because there’s no congestion other people don’t recognise you’ve got a cold so you get no sympathy but you still feel under the weather.

This is where common sense should kick in. You can’t cure a cold but you can have an influence on its severity. The rules are simple: keep warm, get plenty of rest and drink lots of water. No more no less. Don’t go to the gym, you’re body needs all its strength and energy to fight the cold virus, and do use a decongestant to enable you to get a good night’s sleep.

I went to the pharmacist yesterday to get another box of decongestant and the lady who served me gave me the third degree. Was I taking any other drugs? No I’m not. Am I aware that this product contains paracetamol and that I should not take any more of this drug? Yes but thank you for reminding me. She was absolutely right but of course I wouldn’t have got her advice if I’d gone to a self service checkout.

Back to today. I’ve taken nothing since 0445 this morning (it’s now 1130). FitBit tells me I had over 8 hours albeit restless sleep last night and I’ve just had another glass of water. My breathing is still laboured but I don’t feel too bad. Maybe I’m over the worst but I won’t know unless I’m a little better tomorrow. Then I can be confident of entering 2019 with my cold behind me.



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