THE UNCOMMON COLD          - 25/7/2011      <--Prev : Next-->

Well thats the annual winter cough and cold done and dusted thank goodness. This year it was exacerbated by a couple of precious first world visitors who bought some new germs from offshore, germs that my immune system had not met before.

Luckily we were in the land of plenty when the coughing began to irritate the family so much, that they banned me from the dinner table and sent me to the doctor !! In the olden days our winter colds were cured by disprin and Mr Cooper's home made prickly pear cough linctus from Highfield Pharmacy.

Mind you I found out later that Mr Cooper made his cough syrup from the same cactus as Tequila is made from, which is probably why it cured almost anything !! Mother always said, and I often quote this wise saying to all who will care to listen " if you call the doctor and get medicines and antibiotics, it will take a week to cure the common cold. On the other hand if you stay in bed and take honey and lemon juice, it will take seven days !"

Sadly in 2011 due to man's inhumanity to himself, the Common Cold now take two weeks or fourteen days to cure !! The good old "head under the towel and inhaling Friars Balsam trick" always worked for stuffy noses. If the prickly pear cough syrup did not work, the next step was Sterns Pine Tar and Honey.... remember the radio advert ? "You can't take every cough to the doctor, BUT you can take a teaspoon of Sterns Pine Tar and Honey!" And of course there was good old Choats Extract of Lettuce !! But this year I was overwhelmed by the array of cough medicines, unctions and lotions that are readily available to the coughing and sneezing masses.

My first world relatives were aghast at the offer of cough mixture saying that cough syrup was in fact seldom prescribed in First World countries as it was as much use as a teaspoon of honey, which led me to probe further. "We want to believe these remedies will work because we're so desperately uncomfortable when we're sick," say modern doctors, "but clinical trials have found that cough medicines are no better than a placebo." Whoa these brave doctors must be much hated by the Pharmaceutical companies I am sure. There are many natural cough mixtures to be found, and the most interesting of all of the ones I found was "fifteen drops of tabasco in a glass of water" . Well indeed to goodness, any self respecting cough would vacate the body of anyone daft enough to take that sort of remedy !!

Most popular remedies seem to be apple cider vinegar and honey, and another one which is red onion, garlic, lemon and honey. Garlic soup is another popular cure as are plenty of zinc and hot toddies !! And then of course there is famous old Vicks vaporub rubbed on the chest, that is just the most amazing help for the sneezy coffee set !!

Go to the doctor and get an antibiotic urged all my friends terrified that they too might get a magnificent cough just like mine ! No I sighed knowledgeably, antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria, fungi and certain parasites. They don't work against any infections caused by viruses. Viruses cause colds, the flu and most coughs and sore throats. In 2008 the British Department of Health launched a major 270m campaign calling on GPs to stop prescribing antibiotics for cough, colds and sore throats. In the same year, they issued guidance to doctors saying that the drugs should not be given to patients suffering relatively minor conditions.

Overuse of antibiotics is fueling the development of hospital superbugs, It also threatens organ transplants, hip replacements and cancer treatments because the antibiotics used to protect patients from infections become less effective. Experts have warned that diseases are emerging that are resistant to all common antibiotics. Aah, the Common Cold, it is the scourge of mankind, can you believe it they even have a computer game entitled "The Common Cold".

To end here is my favourite Common Cold joke ! "A man went to see his doctor because he was suffering from a miserable cold. His doctor prescribed some pills, but they didn't help.

On his next visit the doctor gave him a shot, but that didn't do any good. On his third visit the doctor told the man to go home and take a hot bath. As soon as he was finished bathing he was to throw open all the windows and stands in the draft.

"But doc," protested the patient, "if I do that, I'll get pneumonia." "I know," said his physician. "I can cure pneumonia."