The “common cold” is one of the most frequent of all causes of loss in wages and salary, not to mention joy of life. There are very few people who have not had numerous colds, and comparatively few who escape at least one cold during the winter or colder months. It would be no exaggeration to say that scores of people every year literally cough themselves into their graves. A cough is one of the first and most prominent symptoms of a cold, and a cold neglected or wrongly treated is one of the first symptoms that a coffin soon will be needed. Note that I say, “a cold neglected or wrongly treated,” for neither a say, “a cold neglected or wrongly treated,” for neither a cough nor a cold will necessarily kill unless wrongly treated or allowed to develop into a more serious malady.
The mystery of a cold has been inquired into and debated for ages. The term “cold” is so used because we always have associated the ailment with cold weather and low degrees of temperature. When we get away from this idea we shall have a better opportunity to discover the proper way to prevent and relieve colds.
Frequently warnings are sent out by Federal medical officials and by State and local medical officials in regard to colds, and influenza, and much wholesome advice is disseminated.
Perhaps no one classes of people eats more heartily than the farmers, and they also wear heavy woolens, as a rule. Of course much of their time is spent out of doors and they do require somewhat heavier clothing and heavier foods than do many others. But in addition to these, it is unusual thing to find the farmer’s bedroom windows open in the wintertime. Often the windows are closed tightly and caulked so that there will be not drafts. All these factors combined make many farmers especially subject to respiratory diseases, such as colds, bronchitis and pneumonia-in spite of the fact that they are out of doors much during the daytime. The heavy clothing and the heavy diet no doubt are important factors in creating this susceptibility of the farmer.
Colds are considered contagious. Without doubt there are many bacteria in the discharges of a patient with a cold; and many of these may reach the respiratory tract of someone who may subsequently develop a cold. But over and over again it has been proven that these germs are not the fundamental cause of colds. If they were, everyone in any congregation, audience or gathering of any kind would soon develop colds if there were only a few coughing and sneezing members. The physician on his rounds from cold patient would develop colds frequently if germs were the chief cause.
One may argue that it is only those susceptible who develop colds from “exposure” to colds-to the bacteria of colds. That is granted-and it is just why many people contract colds; their bodies harbor encumbrances that provide a favorable culture medium for the propagation of the germs. A clean body and clean blood establish more or less of a natural immunity. A cold is really and effort of Nature to eliminate accumulated poisons from the system.
What are colds, and how do they develop ?
A cold is considered as and acute inflammation of the mucous membrane of the upper air passages, sometimes involving the eyes and the throat, and usually is associated with general symptoms, The “inflammation,” however, is merely a congestion due to the need for an extra amount of blood in the parts to carry on the extremely active elimination. Of course there is some minor inflammatory process, but this in itself can be ignored in the main. The thing to consider is the underlying condition.
Usually when nature decrees a cold, the entire vital force is more actively aroused than when a catarrh results from the same causes. Yet a cold may be considered as an acute catarrh, elimination taking place much more rapidly in this acute condition than in the case of catarrh, where the body, for some reason of encumbrance or repression of depletion, is prevented from making strenuous acute efforts toward elimination.
Amount the many immediate and contributing causes of colds, I am convinced that the ingestion of more food than the body can readily make use of is foremost, Most of us seem to think that eating is for the chief purpose of providing plate pleasure and to prevent hunger, Food is meant to supply the body with working materials, and to relieve hunger, Many persons-most of us, in fact-have never experienced a genuine hunger since childhood. They see to it that they don’t, by answering every call to meals, whether they need a bite or not, Continued feeding without genuine hunger appetite depresses the digestive function, and as a result of the ensuing indigestion there are fermentation and putrefaction in the food canal, with absorption of material unneeded by the tissues from the blood-and lymphatic vessels, The already overburdened eliminative system is further embarrassed and these unnatural substances are backed up into and deposited in every organ and cell of the body.The body develops and acute cold as a means of effecting a house-cleaning.
Man naturally was an unclothed animal as are other living creatures, But civilization has led us to a pride in clothing, and to overdressing, An excessive amount of clothing renders the skin more or less lifeless, for the prores and cells of the skin cannot function much better than a man’s breathing apparatus could if the head were buried in a feather pillow. The clothing worn makes it unnecessary for the skin to perform its great function of heat-regulation. Instead of vigorous circulation in the skin, this organ becomes pale, anemic” lifeless,” and the blood gathers internally to produce congestion within.
The skin is further reduced in serviceability by inordinate use of hot baths, or by neglect of the need for cleanliness. Hot baths repeated frequently or continued too long lessen responsiveness of every element forming the skin-blood-vessels, nerve-endings, pores, sweatglands, and so on. They also produce and anemia, and a coincident lowering of general vitality.
One does not need a recital of any additional causes of colds. The above are the leading ones: systemic toxemia or filth encumbrance, nerve-endings and capillaries in the skin anesthetized or deadened and incapable of normal reaction, and a resulting congestion or the mucous membrane of the respiratory and intestinal tracts with or without some exposure or other usually considered exciting cause.
Under normal conditions the material eliminated from the mucous membrane during a cold would be eliminated from the body through the normal eliminating channels the lungs, bowels, kidneys and skin. It is when and only when these channels are incapable of keeping the elimination up with formation and accumulation of waste products that the body must call upon the mucous membrane to assist. A cold develops. It is curative in nature; it is beneficial; and it is the very best the body can do under the circumstances. The body soon would be much worse off if the cold did not develop, for there would be internal derangements. It is the vital force within the body that causes the cold to take place, and the symptoms of the cold are the local phenomena of vital activity.
Too may people resort to fever-reducing drugs and chemical laxatives, for the eradication of a cold, Their arm, unconscious though it may be, is to suppress the cold symptoms-but this suppression does not eliminate the course. So long as the cause remains there will be colds recurring, or some alterations within vital organs and cells, cold suppressed means vitality suppressed, unwanted waste products retained, and the drug and its after-effects added to the burden. All this cannot but put the body in a worse condition than it was during the cold or before the cold developed, This explains the development of complication, the “settling” of colds in the kidneys or lungs or elsewhere, and consequences following physical house-cleaning and the body’s partial adjustment to the added adverse condition. During active colds a body is perfectly safe, provided it is allowed to function in the direction it is taking, and in fact aided along in the same direction.
Colds being so prevalent and so universal, it is hardly necessary to consider minor symptoms. These are well known to practically everyone. What is not known, however, by the majority of people is that when a cold lingers on unduly long through one’s failure to aid the body in its efforts or when it “settles” in some part of the body, the cause of the cold has been aggravated or intensified and the body has been prevented from performing its eliminative functions with effectiveness.
A cold sometimes can be aborted by increasing the elimination through all channels at the very onset of the first symptoms. The best way to do this is by withdrawing all food except perhaps unsweetened citrus fruit juices, supplying an abundance of fresh water for drinking, securing a good perspiration by a hot bath for fifteen or twenty minutes and then frictioning the skin with a cold wet towel, cleansing the bowels with a fairly full moderately hot enema, providing an abundance of fresh air for the necessary supply of waste-consuming oxygen and then securing a good night’s sleep.
Even after a cold has gotten a good start these procedures should be employed. The food should be withheld until one day after the symptoms of the cold have disappeared, whether this be one day or a full week or even more. There is no appetite anyway, and there will be little if any digestion, food being an added encumbrance.
If there is general weariness and especially if there is fever, the patient may go to bed for a few days-as long as the fever continues; but usually where the temperature is normal it is better to be up and around.
The old belief in “feeding a cold and starving a fever” was born through misunderstanding. Whoever first said this was possibly a philosopher, and may have meant that if one does stuff a cold there soon will be a fever that will require starving (fasting) to relieve. Both conditions are due to the same toxemic cause, and are merely different manifestations of the vital activity in the process of cure.
When there is no fever, exercise is a very excellent means of hastening the restoration of normal conditions. One may take as vigorous exercise as general and organic conditions will permit, and preferably continue until a vigorous perspiration results. The sweat, however, may be produced in one of several other ways; an electric-light cabinet, steam-cabinet, vapor-cabinet, or hot dry-air cabinet; a hot-blanket pack; a hot tub bath; or by sitting over a cane-bottomed chair under which is a pan of steaming water, the body except for the head being covered with blankets, tent-fashion. Any sweat-bath should be obtained in an abundance of fresh air, and the treatment should be terminated by a short hot rinse and then a cold shower or other cold bath-tempered to suit one’s reactive powers.
As a general procedure, there must be a both below body temperature after any sweat-bath or hot bath without sweating, but reaction to warmth must be assured. Complete drying, then covering up well and resting or sleeping is the best termination.
A very excellent relief for the cough frequently associated with a cold is the sipping of hot water containing the juice of one lemon and a little honey; or, every hour or so taking a teaspoonful of a mixture of equal parts of honey and lemon juice. A hot compress over the front of the throat, or heat by means of a heat lamp will be excellent, especially if followed by a cold throat pack, to be kept on for several hours. If other means fail, one may inhale steam (from an open vessel or a suitably equipped kettle), containing a few drops of tincture of benison, with or without a few drops of eucalyptus oil. Licorice sometimes is very soothing to the larynx and eases conditions causing a cough. It is better that one take something of this sort than the more powerful cough remedies; but it is advisable to control the cough if it is wearing the patient out and if it interferes with sleep, and particularly if it is unproductive (if it brings up no mucus).
One should keep in such physical condition. Muscularly, nervously, chemically and otherwise, that one is immune to colds. It can be done. But if one develops colds, nothing serious can well happen if the treatment outline above is instituted at the onset. One need fear no complications and no harmful after-effects. Avoid suppressive treatments, if you would have the body benefited by the cold instead of left in a worse condition-by the treatment, however, not by the cold or the underlying conditions giving rise to the cold.
If one does not keep in constant condition to escape colds, than one should begin training many weeks before the usual “cold” season, in order to prevent the cold-not letter than early winter for the usual winter colds, and preferably not later than autumn.
If one will follow the advice given in the early chapters of this book, regarding eating, eliminating, exercising, bathing and every other factor concerned with one’s daily life one need have little fear of “catching” a cold. In short, one should eat no more than enough to support the body’s needs and should have meals well balanced, containing enough foods supplying minerals, vitamins and bulk; one should use a minimum of starches and sugars-yet as much as needed for energy. Keep up normal elimination. Secure as frequent sun and air-baths as possible. Wear as little clothing as possible to maintain warmth, but enough to prevent being chilly. Don’t start wearing heavy woolens as soon as the first cool breeze of fall blows around the corner. Wear summer-weight clothing in the winter when inside in super-heated homes and offices, and protect against outdoor cold by overwraps and overcoats. Exercise daily, enough to speed up heart action, circulation and breathing. Follow each exercise period with a cool or warm and cool (or cold) bath and good friction. Spend as much time out of doors as possible. Secure ample rest, relaxation and sleep. Drink at least six glasses of water daily, and at least one quart of milk, those who are toxemic to begin with may tend to develop colds on trying the above plan. But it is because they do need it. Continuing the program will soon eradicate the cause of the cold, and the symptoms will make their disappearance. The more nearly natural the environment of the body the better will its organs function, and the sooner will disease belong the past.
There are coughs not humanly resulting from colds, of course, but the treatment suggested above for the cough of colds usually will relieve any other cough. The cough of tuberculosis and heart disease may resist any treatment that does not directly benefit the lung or heart condition.
One of the most persistent and exasperating of all coughs is that following influenza or a cold and aggravated by inhaling cigarette or other tobacco smoke. Among other cough causes may be mentioned acute and catarrh, chronic bronchitis, bronchial enlarged bronchial glands, laryngitis of different kinds, pleurisy, stomach irritation, nervousness, hysteria, male urethra stricture or irritation, etc. But unless there is some serious organic condition underlying the cough, in all these coughs very similar conditions exist within the larynx, which may be called a “cough-box”. A treatment that is effective in one case will be apt to be effective in another.
A constant, harsh cough may lead to rupture, prolapsed of some internal organ, reopening of harsh cough may lead to rupture, prolapsed of some internal organ, reopening of recent operation scars, tearing loose of abdominal adhesions with considerable internal damage, rupture of a blood-vessel, dilation or rupture of small air-spaces of the lungs, or severe aggravation of abnormal heart conditions. For this reason it is well to check a severe dry cough that does not serve the purpose of expelling injurious secretions or executions from the throat, bronchi or lungs.
If you are a smoker it is well to begin treatment by discontinuing smoking at once, for you will come to that or suffer through a long period of distress--and of untold vexation to close neighbors. For your own pleasure you may want to compromise, but for the sake of others forego your own pleasure, disturbing and unsatisfactory at best.
You may feel that your cough doesn’t happen to be the kind that is benefited by a fast or reduced diet, or at least by a decidedly reduced diet. But if you want quick results in checking that cough try the absolute fast or a diet of only a few oranges daily. Or pineapple juice, in “doses” of two or three ounces every two or three hours (or even every hour or so), frequently is very satisfactory. Drink freely of water--the more the better. Other factors of treatment were given for the cough of colds.
But additional measures of value in many cases are hot footbaths and hot lemonade just before retiring, which will help one to sleep without severe coughing. Slippery-elm bark or lozenges of slippery-elm may be chewed with considerable benefit. This can scarcely be called a medicine.
Spinal manipulative treatment frequently is necessary or at least advisable, as in some cases there are definite contractions of deep spinal muscles and ligaments, and these treatments and the hot or hot and cold supplications to the spinal region will relieve these contractions. One may try by force of will to suppress a dry and unproductive cough, but this sometimes is quite difficult, sometimes impossible.
But the treatment that often markedly relieves many a stubborn cough is plain, ordinary Vaseline--petroleum jelly. Some people have learned to take it as easily as they take butter, and hasten to the Vaseline tube or jar at the slightest suggestion of a cough. It would be better if they avoided the cause of the cough. But the purpose of this short chapter is to help get rid of cough after it has developed-- as well as how to avoid it. The tip end of a small spoon is filled with Vaseline and this amount taken (from the back of the tongue) two or three times a day and somewhat oftener if necessary. There is no effect upon the digestive system other than a slight laxative effect, which is not undesirable - and it seems to naturally lubricate the tract, relieving the irritation and dissipating the cough.
The cough resulting from urethra stricture or irritation many require the passage of a cold metal sound by a physician. The dilation of the urethra canal often will ease up, reflexly, the condition in the larynx responsible for the cough. But sometimes this cough will be relieved by the hot shallow sitz-bath--sitting in six inches or so of hot water, knees drawn up so that just the perineum and part of the hips and the feet are in the water. This may continue for from ten to thirty minutes, keeping the water hot by frequently adding additional water after allowing some to escape. General measures for improving the health of the body as a whole and local throat treatments also should be employed in this condition. Such coughs may not respond to the Vaseline treatment, but it is worth a trial. In fact, whatever the cause, any natural or drugless local measure suitable to the general physical condition may be employed, if seemingly necessary. The productive cough is beneficial, but the unproductive cough is a nuisance, to everyone. But even the productive cough should be banished as soon as possible.
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