How-To: Avoid Catching a Cold
When you were little, did your grandmother tell you stay inside when it was cold and wet, because if you went out you’d be sure to catch a cold? This piece of folk medicine is fairly common even in the Western world. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, your grandma’s wisdom is actually very helpful advice!
To be more specific, Chinese Medicine recognizes the strong influence that cold temperatures have on the back of the head and neck. This area has a relatively thin layer of skin tissue covering the internal structure of the body, which means that cold drafts can penetrate more easily and cause the muscles below the skin to contract. From an anatomical perspective, this area is the center for breathing and respiration. When it’s contracted and under stress, you’re much more likely to be susceptible to the viruses and bacteria already in your system or in the air around you. This means that before you know it, you’ll have caught that proverbial cold your grandma warned you about. Going out without enough warm clothing in the winter, leaving the house when your hair is still wet, or even sleeping with the window open are all ways to wind up with the sniffles.
What are the early signs of a cold that’s been brought on by exposure to a cold draft? The first symptoms of this kind of cold are usually a runny nose that comes on suddenly or a tickle in the back of your throat. Any mucus present will still be transparent, and your throat won’t be completely sore, but you’ll start to feel “not quite right,” or like you’re starting to come down with something. The good news is that once you learn to pay attention to your body, you can recognize these signs and take action before the illness progresses. If you’ve been exposed to a cold draft, take a hot shower as soon as you’re able in order to raise your internal body temperature. If you’re already sniffling, drink a few cups of hot cinnamon tea throughout the day, until your body feels like it’s warm and you’re starting to perspire. How do you prevent these inconvenient colds in the first place? Make sure to always wear a hat and scarf when you go out in the winter, or keep the back of your neck and head covered with a hooded jacket. If you want to make things even more simple, grow your hair out and leave it down once it’s completely dry.
Colds affect millions of people throughout the country every year, and tend to be extremely dirsuptive to work schedules, social activities, and general life. They may be small and annoying in the grand scheme of things, but they have a big impact on your productivity and quality of life. Taking the time to reduce your exposure to cold drafts is an easy way to cut down on them entirely!
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