Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chest Colds – Momma Knows Best

Chest colds are no fun and it seems that this warm winter is the culprit for many of them!  Not only is that hacking and coughing exhausting, elevated temperatures often accompany these respiratory ailments causing chills, aching and fatigue which can be quite debilitating.  When we don’t feel good, we just want to “Be done with it, already!”  So… we often reach for the easiest, quickest “remedy”.  However, did you know that…

  • while cough suppressants may be effective in quieting a cough; a productive cough is our body’s way of expelling mucus in the lungs and upper airways?  Suppressing the cough causes retention of secretions which can lead to secondary infections.
  • fever reducing medications suppress our body’s ability to produce antibodies.  In fact, studies show that this actually results in the infection lasting up to 50% longer!  The elevated temperature actually destroys the virus or bacteria causing the problem.  They don’t like heat!

So… what am I suggesting; allow the fever to fry your brain cells and wait until you collapse from exhaustion before you take any action?  While this isn’t quite what I have in mind J, I would like to offer a few suggestions that may be more effective in the long run than the typical modern-day approach:

X-rays – if you have chest congestion and a productive cough, you don’t need a chest x-ray to tell you that your lungs and/or upper airways are congested.  You already know that!  It really doesn’t matter which lung!  It really doesn’t matter how far down the congestion runs!  What matters is you have respiratory congestion and you need effective treatment!  Don’t expose yourself to radiation needlessly!

Antibiotics – Most often chest colds are viral and not bacterial.  An antibiotic will have no affect whatever on a viral infection.  Taking antibiotics needlessly only builds your body’s resistance to antibiotics.  If you are unsure if your infection is viral or bacterial and you are keen on antibiotics, have a sputum specimen done.  If the infection is bacterial, the report will specify which antibiotics will be effective.  Don’t accept a wild guess from your doctor as to which antibiotic you need.  Personally, I’d hold off on the antibiotic until I knew it was absolutely the last result.

The measures that momma and many other caring moms always took when we had colds
are still as effective today as they were then and
most of us are alive and well to tell about it!
I would encourage you to use them:

REST – Momma would keep us home from school when necessary, but… there was “no horsing around!”  We were in bed!  She knew that our bodies needed rest to heal.  If we had a fever, she didn’t have to do much coaxing!  Isn’t it amazing that a fever makes us so tired that we can hardly function?  There is a reason for that!  We need to stop trying to function as normal so that we can heal!  If coughing is keeping you awake, use extra pillows to prop yourself up or sleep on your side to prevent drainage and facilitate freer chest movement.

FLUIDS – Momma always had hot tea, broth and water available on a chair next to our beds.  She knew how important it was to “Drink!  Drink!  Drink!”  An elevated temperature isn’t going to hurt us unless we become dehydrated.  Stay way from mucus producing fluids like dairy products.  Many herbal teas are very effective for cold treatments: Echinacea, mullein, elderberry to only name a few.

HUMIDITY – I remember that momma would make a misting tent over our bed with blankets.  She then placed steaming pans of water on a chair next to the bed and just inside an opening in the “tent”.  She knew that moisture in the air helps to relax the airways.  Run a humidifier, put a tea pot full of water on the stove and/or cover your head and shoulders with a towel and hold your head over a steaming pan of water.  Do anything that will help to increase the moisture in your respiratory system!

AROMATICS – Lozenges and cough drops are aromatics.  The aroma and cooling effects of the essential oils in them help to sooth the throat, quiet a cough and expectorate mucus.  When I was a child, Vicks Vapor Rub was also the ticket!  Momma rubbed it on our chests!  She rubbed it on our temples!  She even stuck it up our nostrils.  It was definitely her go-to item when we had a cold.  While studies have shown since then that shoving petroleum up your nose isn’t the safest thing in the world to do, using aromatics is still a very important part of treating respiratory ailments.  Here is a simple recipe for making your own chest rub that is not only quite effective at clearing congestion; the ingredients are a bit healthier than its over-the-counter “equivalents”.

Heat one ounce olive oil.  Add ¼ tsp Vitamin E and one tbsp. grated beeswax
When the wax is melted add:
60 drops eucalyptus
20 drops wintergreen
10 drops peppermint
2 drops thyme

Allow to cool thoroughly and solidify before using.  Rub on chest and back and apply heating pad or warm rice pack for 20 minutes 3-4 times daily.

While it is no fun to be miserable, don’t add fuel to the fire by shutting down your body’s natural defenses.  When we work in harmony with how Father has created our body to heal itself, we are reminded how fearfully and wonderfully made we really are (Psalm 139:14)!


P.S.  Please feel free to contact me with questions, thoughts, topics you’d like to ponder or to read past articles at:  You may also contact me at:
             Bonnie Jaeckle
             In Search of the Whole-Hearted Life
             Diagonal Progress
             505 Jefferson St.
             Diagonal, IA 50845

The author of this article does not endorse everything represented on/in suggested links, books, etc.  Each of us is accountable to God to weigh everything according to His Word.

All content of this article is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. The author sells no hard products and earns no money from the recommendation of products. The information herein is presented for educational and commentary purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice from any licensed practitioner. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.  This is best left to the Creator of the universe.  In all health-related situations, “qualified healthcare professionals” should always be consulted.  The author deems THE GREAT PHYSICIAN to be most qualified.  The author assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material.

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