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NOT BORN YESTERDAY: At-home cold remedies

By LINDA BROWN, Not Born Yesterday

Whether they’re “old wives tales” or a family tradition that has been passed down for generations, everyone has a favorite cure for the common cold.

We asked Luanne Freund, director at Vintage Park Assisted Living Center, 2250 S. Elm St., Ottawa, to give us her professional opinion on the most common at-home remedies for a case of the sniffles.

“One of the most common remedies for a cold is to load up on a ton of Vitamin C,” Freund said. “For years, Vitamin C has been believed to be the end-all-be-all cure for everything from a cold to cancer. The truth is, at the beginning of symptoms, Vitamin C might reduce cold symptoms, but after that there’s little benefit.”

Freund went on to say that massive doses of Vitamin C may cause diarrhea and, in certain iron-related medical conditions, might enhance the rate of absorption of iron and cause iron toxicity.

Another supposed sure-fire cure for fixing a cold is a hot toddy (whiskey, lemon and hot water).

“Alcohol hand sanitizers may help destroy cold germs on your hands,” Freund said. “But drinking alcohol doesn’t do the same.

“Alcohol dehydrates, drying your mucous membranes, causing discomfort and making it harder to fight the virus. A shot of whiskey may burn away a coating in your throat, but the resulting dehydration will actually make the cold last longer.”

Freund recommended drinking plenty of water, juice and mint tea instead.

A favorite of men everywhere is to simply fight a cold by ignoring it.

Freund compared such a remedy to an open invitation for everyone around you to also get sick.

“When you ignore the runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches and fever without taking any over-the-counter medications, you’re just spreading the virus to other people,” she said.

Instead, it’s better to take an anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen for body aches and fever, antihistamines for the runny nose and a cough suppressant to make you more comfortable and less symptomatic.

Next week: More at-home remedies, including the one that actually works.

Linda Brown is marketing director for The Ottawa Herald. Email her at lbrown@ottawaherald.com

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