Case Studies

Prevent Colds and Build Immunity

| January/February 2005

Nothing like a 2-year-old to give you a reality check on how your immune system is doing,” one of my patients, Sarah, told me. She smiled as she spoke, but I could see she wasn’t thinking it was so funny. “Last winter I had more colds than I’ve ever had in my life,” she said. “My little girl brought home a dozen sniffles through the fall, winter and spring, and I caught at least five of them. One of the colds got worse and went into my lungs.

“And my poor little Molly had a time of it. I was always wiping her nose,” Sarah said. “She had several fevers as well.”

Now Sarah had another cold. I checked her pulse and looked at her tongue. Her tongue was normal, but her pulse was notable because it was clearly discernible on the “surface,” even when I just rested my fingers on her wrist and didn’t push at all. This surface pulse is thought to be a sign that a viral pathogen is just entering the body — that the infection is only on the surface and still easily treatable. When the pathogen starts penetrating the body, going to the bronchial level or worse, into the lungs, the situation is more difficult.

When cold and flu season comes, it’s difficult to tell a cold from the flu or a deeper upper respiratory tract infection. Traditional Chinese Medicine and, for the most part, Western medicine, define a cold as an upper respiratory tract infection with copious clear mucus discharge, sore throat, some fatigue and body aches, followed by coughing. Fever and loss of appetite usually are not present, as they are with the flu.

Having children in the household makes it especially important to maintain a strong immune system throughout the cold and flu season — or, better yet, have lots of strategies on hand to prevent the youngsters from getting sick in the first place.

Whether or not you have children, knowing how to prevent colds, or reduce and shorten symptoms is a good thing.

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