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Instructions for treating upper respiratory infections and allergies:

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take any antihistamine on a regular basis.  Loratidine 10 mg taken once a day (Claritin and others) is over the counter and reasonably priced.  Chlorpheniramine 4 mg can be taken three times a day for allergies.  It is very effective but may cause some drowsiness.  Usually this drowsiness goes away after couple of days of use.

Salt water sniffed into the nose is going to be critical.  Mix 1  teaspoon of ordinary table salt with 1 pint of water.  Poor little bit into your hand, lean over the bathroom sink so you’re  staring straight down into the drain, then sniff water into your nostrils, first one side than the other.  Then blow your nose into the sink and try and get the mucus out.  There are other ways of getting the salt water into a nose, such as a neti pot.  I find that the old snorting out of the hand is easiest and simplest.

Good old soup is in excellent form of salt water that can be very comforting for the throat.  If there is a question whether you need to avoid salt, discuss with your doctor

Nasal cortisone spray is used as an adjunct to the antihistamine, but tends to be a lot more expensive.  Several brands are available.

Sometimes a room humidifier can work to help diminish the cough.  Be careful though, because vapor selling on the carpet creates an ideal environment for a mold to form and make you sicker.

Nettle tea is made from stinging nettles and for some reason is very good for allergies.  It is also available in capsule form.  Usually one cup per day or twice a day is enough. 

Singulair is a relatively new drug, it is an asthma medicine that has been found to use be useful for hay fever.  It works differently than all the other medications, and focuses on some inflammatory chemicals called leukotrienes.  It is a 10mg pill taken once a day and is very well tolerated. 

other tricks that we use include zinc tablets, elderberry capsules, Echinacea, vitamin D

  • Zinc has a modest antiviral effect.  I recommend low dosage taken several times throughout the day.  If you can find lozenges that have 2 – 3 mg of zinc in them, and use them every few hours while you’re away, that will help.
  • Elderberry capsules also have some antiviral effect.  They are used as a syrup for treating the flu, under the brand name Sambucol.  There are some generic syrups in health food stores, and they are probably fine.
  • Echinacea is interesting.  It is a supposed immune stimulant.  Along that vein, it has been recommended that people with autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis avoided.  That being said, there was at least one study that showed that it had some immune modulating effect, suggesting that for certain viral illnesses it might be useful.  For instance, when you get the flu, immune system is making you sick.  Some studies have shown that Echinacea is useless for the common cold.  My own experience is that it works pretty well.  It can be taken as a capsule or an alcohol extract.  I don’t recommend the tea, because some active ingredients are poorly water-soluble.
  • Vitamin D 2000 IU per day is associated with lower risk of influenza A.  That includes seasonal flu and swine flu.  Good for the bones too.  What a deal!