Showing posts with label colds. Show all posts

Keep Viruses and Germs in Check

viruses and germs

Many believe that the way one catches a cold is through the air via small droplets that are sneezed or coughed out by an ill individual. This isn't quite accurate. Most colds are caught by way of touching a contaminated object (including any number of common ones like a doorknob or a shopping cart handle) covered with those droplets.

There are ways of preventing colds and making your home environment "cold free".

Wash up!

The best way to prevent colds from occurring is to wash one's hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. During cold season, you may want to do this a second and third time.

If possible, fingernails should be scrubbed by a scrub brush to remove all that's caught underneath. Fingernails tend to harbor not only dirt, but also bacteria and viruses. If using a washroom is impossible, consider carrying around sanitizing towellettes. These are a good substitute in lieu of washing when ouotside.

If you do need to cough or sneeze, do so into your arm or tissue. This will help to prevent the contamination of the area by you. Be also careful about touching your eye. Viruses can enter the eye easily and can cause myriad problems, not the least of which is conjunctivitis or "pink eye".

Breathe in...

Other methods of prevention include the breathing in hot steamy air, or even warm air for that fact. If you can find one at a local gym, a 20-minute sauna session is most helpful. The hot or warm air seems to kill the cold virus fairly well. If one doesn't have access to a sauna, just breathing in the air from a hair dryer may do the trick. (But take care!)

Or try filling up your sink with hot, boiling water, covering your head with a towel and breathing the steam, taking care not to get any hot water on your skin. You can also add a bit of Eucalyptus oil or something like Vicks Vapo-Rub to help clear out any congestion.

One can also help prevent colds by taking certain supplements. Vitamin C, Zinc and a herb called Andrographis can be helpful.
Getting a good night's sleep and decreasing one's stress can also aid in healing. Sleep boosts the immune system, while stress decreases it. Think positively or do activities that help to relax one's system. Exercise can also bolster immunity. Three days of moderate exercise should prove sufficient. But if you're very ill, rest is best.

Cleanliness is key

Another way to minimize colds is to decrease the amount of germs in your home. Clean the phones and doorknobs daily during cold season. Place tissue boxes out in your highest-trafficked part of your home. Consider leaving the window open a crack in the most populated rooms to help drive away germs. Lowering the temperature 5 degrees and keeping humidity at 50% will also help maintain a steady germ-free environment. Viruses thrive in the heat.

By keeping the temperature down, it will keep viruses at bay. Also heat tends to dry mucosal tissues in the nose, making them more prone to allow germs to gain entry here. Finally toothbrushes and towels should be changed reugularly, especially if someone just recovered from a cold, to help keep everyone healthy.

By following the above your chances of becoming ill will decrease. Your odds will improve that you'll escape unscathed during cold season.

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History of Vick's VapoRub

vick's vaporub

At the beginning of the 1900s, popular treatments for colds were poultices and messy plasters. These were typically the same forms of mustard and mint products that had been used for over 5000 years.

These products were applied on the chest and forehead, but due to the abrasiveness of the compounds, they often caused rashes and/or blisters. This was due is a large part because their main ingredients were skin irritants. The other prescribed method to cure a cold was to inhale hot herbal vapors. While this method was very successful in curing colds, it could also cause severe burns if children or patients placed their faces too close to the steam.

Who is Lunsford Richardson?

Lunsford Richardson, a druggist from Selma, North Carolina, was one of several druggists who sought a product that would provide relief without the drawbacks of the plasters and poultices. Two events occurred that led him to the perfect product. The first was the use of petroleum jelly as a safe base for salves and cosmetics. The second was the discovery of menthol, a crystalline alcohol extract from peppermint which released a vapor capable of giving sinus relief.

Ben-Gay and the Connection to Vick's

Menthol had been used by consumers as far back as 1898 when it was introduced in a product called Ben-Gay. This product, which was invented by Jules Bengue, combined menthol with an analgesic pain reliever in a base of lanolin. The innovative product was promoted as a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, gout and even help with a head cold.

Richardson studied the testimonials on Ben-Gay and started mixing different ingredients together in his drugstore. He finally stumbled upon using menthol with other ingredients in a base of petroleum jelly. He named his new product, Richardson’s Croup and Pneumonia Cure Salve. When rubbed onto the chest, the chemicals opened up sinus passages while they increase blood circulation. After its introduction, jars of the product flew off the shelves. Richardson could barely keep up with orders for customers and other druggists.

His only problem was the long, involved name of the product. He felt he needed a catchier moniker and turned to his brother-in-law, a doctor named Joshua Vick. Because it had been in Vick’s laboratory that Richardson had experimented to create a new product he changed the popular products name in honor of his mentor. Vick’s VapoRub was born, the year was 1905.

The Way Vick's Changed the U.S. Post Office

Although the product was selling and Richardson was having difficulty keeping up with orders, he still went on a huge advertising campaign to promote his product. He advertised in newspapers and supplied coupons for a free trial size jar of the product. He also had the ingenious idea to persuade the U.S. Post Office to allow him to provide samples to “Boxholders,” a precursor of today’s “occupant.” Before this time, all mail had to have a name listed on the package and/or letter.

All of this provided great sales for VapoRub, but it was the flu epidemic of 1918 that sent sales soaring through the roof. In the spring, U.S. troops carried the virus to France and then Spain. The flu took so many lives in Spain that it soon became known as the “Spanish Flu.”

The Flu Kills Millions

The flu soon traveled to China and on to Russia where it became even more virulent. During that year the flu killed one half of one percent of the entire population of the United States. To put it in even easier terms to visualize, World War I had taken four years to claim the lives of nine million soldiers. The 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic killed 25 million people, making it the worst plague in history.

It goes without saying that the flu that year drove the need for any type of cold medicine up. Cough syrups, cough drops, decongestants and even ASPIRIN® were bought for every household. These drug sales, especially Vick’s VapoRub, set new industry records. In 1918, Vick’s sold over a million dollars' worth of product. That is 1918 dollars, which was unprecedented until that time. While Vick’s is still very popular today and widely touted as the best cure for sinus and chest colds, it was the flu epidemic of 1918 that put a jar in every home. Mysteriously the flu that claimed so many lives vanished in 1919.

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