When the Dreaded Cold Sets In...
By Alyson Schlobohm
Ahhh, spring. The time of year when the trees come back to life, the flowers bloom, the cold and dreary days of February are behind us and all we want to do is get OUTSIDE.
Unless, of course, you’re like me and you’re sitting inside under a blanket staring at the most perfectly sunny and pleasant day with bitterness and resentment, blowing your nose constantly, wondering how you’re still sneezing 7 days after the cold set in and resorting to Advil to weaken the headache that flares up each time your extremely prevalent cough tickles your throat.
If you are one of the lucky ones who does not suffer from allergies or you are someone who catches a cold and barely notices any symptoms, then kudos to you. I truly do mean that even though a part of me hates you for it. To you, the rest of us might seem dramatic, over reactive or as though we’re milking it when we come down with a case of the sniffles but trust me, we are not. For us, colds are simply awful. They last forever, we begin to believe the cough is never going to subside and we end up frustrated as we do everything in our power to rid our bodies of the lingering symptoms.
Before I go any further, let me say this – regardless as to how your body reacts to a cold, please be cognizant of the fact that not everyone is like you and STAY HOME when you’re symptomatic. You may not think it’s a big deal to be out and about when you’re coughing and sniffling but there are some of us whose skin crawls when we hear those sounds. We can do everything under the sun to prevent a cold except for to avoid contact with every single person who’s carrying the virus.
My primary goal when this year’s doozy hit was to figure out why some of us get hit with cold symptoms so much harder than others. I was really surprised to discover that the reason some of us experience stronger symptoms than others does not have anything to do with whether or not our immune system is weak or strong, it is simple an indication of how strongly our immune systems react to pathogens.
Let me elaborate: two people who are equally as healthy, both exercise regularly, eat right, get enough sleep, etc., can get hit with the same exact cold virus and react completely differently. Due to genetics and other factors out of our control, Person #1 will feel some congestion, they will possibly have a light cough and they may have some sniffles. Person #2, on the other hand, will be physically and mentally exhausted, they will experience a violent and constant cough, blow their nose constantly and be bedridden for a quite a few days, if not longer. Person #2 simply has an immune system that reacts more strongly than Person #1’s.
While this does not provide me with the information I was hoping to find to prevent ever catching a cold again, it does begin to ease the overwhelming frustration I feel at how hard I try to be healthy and how hard a cold hits me when I catch one.
Something else I took in to account is the fact that my mom has always told me that I have a “weak constitution”. While this may sound like an insult, it is not. It is a term in the alternative wellness community used to describe our bodies’ reactions to unhealthy habits in general. Someone with a strong constitution can rarely exercise, eat whatever they want, run on low fuel and feel just fine. Those of us who have a weak constitution have to carefully monitor what foods we eat, sustain a regular exercise regimen and ensure we get enough sleep – failing to do any of these causes us to feel horrible.
For me, the only way I have ever been able to truly prevent a cold is to completely avoid being around anyone who has cold-like symptoms. Hence the reason I will send a client home if they have so much as a case of the sniffles.