Got a cold? Come this way

A fellow sufferer falls in love with the Web all over again

It's become so easy to forget about the great humanitarian (as opposed to economic) advantage that the Web offers. But slumped - sniffing, coughing and expelling thick green liquid at regular intervals - it all returned like a summer of love flashback.

You see, while vast, greedy, immoral multi-billion pound companies sign yet more strategic alliances in the hope of making more money so they can make more money, I'd forgotten that millions of everyday folk were using the Internet to tell people what they knew.

And there is probably no better subject for advice than illness. Whoever has been ill, if they find some way to cut down the suffering, they will gladly feed this information to others. And colds being the number one illness, there is no shortage of good advice. It almost renews your faith in humanity.

So, the obvious start point is what everyone knows. Keep warm, relax, drink lots of liquid and take some vitamin C. Now, for an anti-hypochondriac city boy such as myself, this advice has always boiled down to: buy a load of cold tablets/powder (could be Nurofen, could be Beechams), put on a jumper and don't go out clubbing for two days.

Twenty health Web sites later and my life (and hopefully future health) has changed for the better. Colds/flu are a virus see. Now, the approach taken by the industry built up around this common sufferance is to put lots of chemicals together to sedate you while it works its way round your body. You feel a bit muggy for a few days and then it's all over. That'll be £22.99 all together please.

A lot of people take exception to this approach. You are merely doping the person out, rather than attacking the virus, they say. Plus, all the snot etc. is the body's way of dealing with the virus. By inhibiting that (and making people think they are therefore better) you actually prolong the illness. Thinking back, I would have to agree with this assessment.

Vitamin C is another big question. Of course, packet cold cures always say they've loads of Vit C, and the message that too much C can kill you has certainly entered my skull. Not so, say various sites. Powder remedies actually have relatively little Vit C in them (true - I've checked it out). Vit C is also 100 times less poisonous in high doses than aspirin - and how many times have you exceeded the suggested maximum aspirin dose? So, save money and improve health by buying those Vit C horse pills you find all over the place.

What else? Well, a few homeopathic sites claim to have discovered a bacterium that actually attacks the cold virus. There's a whole range of possible remedies, each referring to a certain type of cold. The only problem appears to find a site which will let you buy them online (this, incidentally had turned into one of those "using only the Internet" plans. "Kieren gets well, using only the Internet"). Still, I'm gonna give them a chance because these Nurofen have been bugger all help so far.

Of course, the Mum's Advice crowd are here in bundles: best way of dealing with a cold is not to get it in the first place. And, surprise, surprise, that consists of not going out, not drinking, not smoking, getting to bed early and not getting too close to any girls.

And there are the ideas that may work but you ain't never gonna do them: gargle with lukewarm salt water (no thanks), brush your teeth with a combination of salt and baking soda (are you serious?), eat raw garlic (and lose your friends), take zinc (where am I going to find zinc about the house?).

Anyway, that's all I've time for because I have to throw my expensive cold remedies in the bin and find a health shop before it shuts. ®

Links

Homeopathic stuff
Vitamin C information
Basic cold rundown
Guide to colds for thick people
More alternative medicine

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