Here's a quick guide to kicking a cold in the a$$ early:
Now there are something like 250 different common cold viruses known as "rhino viruses" which are responsible for roughly 50% of upper respiratory infections. As we are exposed to these different "rhino viruses," our body develops antibodies that will usually prevent future infection from the same strain. I would get into the viral mechanism of action, but i'll just say that antibiotics don't work against viral infections as their pathophysiology of infection is quite different than bacterial. Now with the common cold basically these "rhinoviruses" invade the cells in your nasal mucosa and begin viral replication. It's about this time that you become symptomatic (runny nose, headache, sneezing, sore throat, cough, or congestion) as a viral host cell dies, it releases more viral replications into the surrounding nasal mucosa tissue.
The Organs of Immunity:
There are five "immune" organs in the human body:
-The thymus gland is involved in the formation of T-cells.
-The tonsils and adenoids distinguish invaders that may need destroying.
-The spleen is the organ that filters blood and distributes T-cells and B-cells.
-The lymph glands form and store white blood cells.
-The bone marrow is where B-cells are produced.
What the Immune System Does:
The immune system is the body's defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a series of steps called the immune response, the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade our systems and cause disease. The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body.
The cells that are part of this defense system are white blood cells, or leukocytes. They come in two basic types (more on these below), which combine to seek out and destroy the organisms or substances that cause disease.
Leukocytes are produced or stored in many locations throughout the body, including the thymus, spleen, and bone marrow. For this reason, they are called the lymphoid organs. There are also clumps of lymphoid tissue throughout the body, primarily in the form of lymph nodes, that house the leukocytes.
The leukocytes circulate through the body between the organs and nodes by means of the lymphatic vessels. Leukocytes can also circulate through the blood vessels. In this way, the immune system works in a coordinated manner to monitor the body for germs or substances that might cause problems.
The two basic types of leukocytes are:
Phagocytes: cells that locate and chew up invading organisms by a process called phagocytosis.
Lymphocytes: cells that allow the body to remember and recognize previous invaders and help the body destroy them when and if encountered at a different time.
A number of different cells are considered phagocytes. The most common type is the neutrophil, which primarily fights bacteria. If doctors are worried about a bacterial infection, they might order a blood test to see if a patient has an increased number of neutrophils triggered by the infection. Other types of phagocytes have their own jobs to make sure that the body responds appropriately to a specific type of invader.
There are two kinds of lymphocytes: The B lymphocytes(Humoral immunity) and the T lymphocytes(Cell-mediated immunity):
Lymphocytes start out in the bone marrow and either stay there and mature into B type lymphocytes, or they leave for the thymus gland where they mature into T type lymphocytes. B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes have separate jobs to do: B lymphocytes are like the body's military intelligence system, seeking out their targets and sending defenses to lock onto them. T cells are like the soldiers, destroying the invaders that the intelligence system has identified. Here's how it works.
Antigens are foreign substances that invade the body. When an antigen is detected, several types of cells work together to recognize and respond to it. These cells trigger the B lymphocytes to produce antibodies, specialized proteins that lock onto specific antigens. Antibodies and antigens fit together like a key and a lock.
Once the B lymphocytes have produced antibodies, these antibodies continue to exist in a person's body, so that if the same antigen is presented to the immune system again, the antibodies are already there to do their job. That's why if someone gets sick with a certain disease, like chickenpox, that person typically doesn't get sick from it again. This is also why we use immunizations to prevent getting certain diseases. The immunization introduces the body to the antigen in a way that doesn't make a person sick, but it does allow the body to produce antibodies that will then protect that person from future attack by the germ or substance that produces that particular disease.
Although antibodies can recognize an antigen and lock onto it, they are not capable of destroying it without help. That is the job of the T cells. The T cells are part of the system that destroys antigens that have been tagged by antibodies or cells that have been infected or somehow changed. (There are actually T cells that are called "killer cells.") T cells are also involved in helping signal other cells (like phagocytes) to do their jobs.
Antibodies can also neutralize toxins (poisonous or damaging substances) produced by different organisms. Lastly, antibodies can activate a group of proteins called complement that are also part of the immune system. Complement assists in killing bacteria, viruses, or infected cells.
All of these specialized cells and parts of the immune system offer the body protection against disease. This protection is called immunity.
Humans have three types of immunity — Innate, Adaptive, and Passive:
Everyone is born with innate (or natural) immunity, a type of general protection that humans have. Many of the germs that affect other species don't harm us. For example, the viruses that cause leukemia in cats or distemper in dogs don't affect humans. Innate immunity works both ways because some viruses that make humans ill — such as the virus that causes HIV/AIDS — don't make cats or dogs sick either.
Innate immunity also includes the external barriers of the body, like the skin and mucous membranes (like those that line the nose, throat, and gastrointestinal tract), which are our first line of defense in preventing diseases from entering the body. If this outer defensive wall is broken (like if you get a cut), the skin attempts to heal the break quickly and special immune cells on the skin attack invading germs.
We also have a second kind of protection called adaptive (or active) immunity. This type of immunity develops throughout our lives. Adaptive immunity involves the lymphocytes (as in the process described above) and develops as children and adults are exposed to diseases or immunized against diseases through vaccination.
Passive immunity is "borrowed" from another source and it lasts for a short time. For example, antibodies in a mother's breast milk provide an infant with temporary immunity to diseases that the mother has been exposed to. This can help protect the infant against infection during the early years of childhood.
Everyone's immune system is different. Some people never seem to get infections, whereas others seem to be sick all the time. As people get older, they usually become immune to more germs as the immune system comes into contact with more and more of them. That's why adults and teens tend to get fewer colds than kids — their bodies have learned to recognize and immediately attack many of the viruses that cause colds.
The key is you want to hit a cold right when your symptoms start. Now i will tell you all that there is NO CURE for the common cold at this time. The treatment is typically designed to help alleviate associated symptoms that are usually self limiting. Most theories in cold remedies aim at boosting the immune systems response early on in the cold virus replication cycle to shorten it's overall duration/severity of infection.
Pharmacological/Nutritional Intervention For Colds:
-Vitamin C: (500mg 4x/daily) slightly reduces severity and duration of cold symptoms, however many studies have been inconclusive. It is recommended to begin dosing vitamin c as suggested here at the very onset of symptoms.
-Zinc Gluconate: (preferably lozenge or nasal spray form/route as studies seem to support this delivery method better due to more adequate distrubution in infected nasal mucosa tissues to illicit benefits.) While zinc's mechanism of action in cold prevention is unclear, it has shown to have immune boosting/anti-viral properties. Taken as a lozenge, zinc releases ions that prevent the common cold virus from maturing and attaching to airways. Choose zinc gluconate or zinc acetate without flavoring agents such as citric and tartaric acids—they appear to stunt its preventive powers. Take it only once or twice a day for a week at a time.
-Oral Hydration: is important to maintain the bodies state of homeostasis while preventing dehydration brought on by fever. It also assists in keeping mucous accumulation thin for better expectoration.
-Antihistamines: (benadryl,claritin,vistaril,al legra,zyrtec,doxyalamine succinate) These pharmacologic medications help to dry up (rhinorhea) runny nose/secretion symptoms. Some antihistamine class medications are known to also cause drowsiness (usually dose dependant) in many individuals. Benadryl being the most common due to being an OTC medication.
-Antipyretics: (tylenol,motrin,naprosyn,aspir in).....keeping a fever under control will help alleviate some symptoms. A fever however is the bodies natural defense response to foreign antigen invasion which helps to suppress viral/bacterial replication. It also provides an environment suitable for rapid white blood cell proliferation to combat the foreign invasion.
-Cough suppressants: (*codeine:by far the best at cough suppression due to direct effects on the cerebral medulla cough mechanism, dextromethorphan) helps suppress the cough reflex.
-Expectorants: (humibid,mucinex) keeps bronchial/nasal mucous accumulation thin for better expectoration.
-Calorie Intake: During a state of infection your body uses extra calories to carry out disease fighting processes....make sure you give the body what it needs to do its job!
-Decongestants:(Psuedoephedrine,Phenylephrine/neosynephrine) A decongestant is a broad class of medications used to relieve nasal congestion. Generally, they work by reducing swelling of the mucous membranes in the nasal passages by way of vasoconstriction.
-Probiotics: (Lactobacillus Casei Ke-99 AKA: RPN'S GUT HEATLH) They exhibit probiotic effects(positive effects on the host) and protect against pathogenic bacteria by means of competitive exclusion (i.e., by competing for growth and limiting pathogenic bacteria within the intestinal tract.) There is evidence to suggest that this probiotic process may improve immune function by increasing the number of IgA-producing plasma cells, increasing or improving phagocytosis as well as increasing the proportion of T lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells.
There are many other cold remedies which aim at alleviating cold symptoms, however many of them show unproven results in clinical testing thus i have not listed some of them.
I have many interesting studies that i shall post in this thread and shall keep this as an ongoing work in progress in addition to a learning experience for all.