Believe it or not, those annoying symptoms you're experiencing are part of the natural healing process -- evidence that the immune system is battling illness. For instance, a fever is your body's way of trying to kill viruses by creating a hotter-than-normal environment. Also, a fever's hot environment makes germ-killing proteins in your blood circulate more quickly and effectively. Thus, if you endure a moderate fever for a day or two, you may actually get well faster. Coughing is another productive symptom; it clears your breathing passages of thick mucus that can carry germs to your lungs and the rest of your body. Even that stuffy nose is best treated mildly or not at all. A decongestant, like Sudafed, restricts flow to the blood vessels in your nose and throat. But often you want the increase blood flow because it warms the infected area and helps secretions carry germs out of your body.
Dry air can irritate a sore throat, prolonging your recovery time. Taking a steamy shower or using a humidifier can bring moisture back into the air, thus relieving any discomfort. “The mucus membranes of the nose and throat love moisture,” Dr. Abramowitz says. “Steam provides moisture and warmth, which helps the vocal cords calm down and decrease in swelling.” The moisture in your nose can also help clear out mucus and gunk, which can be part of the problem, he adds.
But you should limit use to a day or two. When used too much, OTC nasal decongestants can lead to a complication called rhinitis medicamentosa (RM), also known as rebound rhinitis. This condition is characterized by nasal congestion that is triggered by the overuse of topical vasoconstrictive medications, especially intranasal decongestants, says Raj Dasgupta, MD, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

What you put into your body can have a big impact on your health. We now know the connection between poor diet and chronic health conditions. "Healing with Whole Foods" focuses on changing your diet with guidance from Chinese medicine. Learn about nutrient-dense greens, like spirulina and blue-green algae. The book also offers over 300 nutritious recipes.


This natural sweetener may work just as well for a cough as over-the-counter medicines. That could be especially helpful for children who aren’t old enough to take those. But don’t give it to an infant or a toddler younger than 1. There’s a small risk of a rare but serious kind of food poisoning that could be dangerous for them. And while you may have heard that “local” honey can help with allergies, studies don’t back that up.
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