Medical professionals, area residents talk about how to avoid, recover from the common cold

When it comes to the common cold Villager Heidi Zerbe has a surefire fix: Echinacea and chicken noodle soup.

“I take it as soon as I even feel a hint of something coming on,” the Village of Summerhill resident said.

Zerbe said she has been using the concoction for some time and, even though she has read conflicting research about echinacea, she is convinced it makes her feel better.

“Some studies say it doesn’t help, but I know it works for me,” she said.

Zerbe is not alone.

For many people it doesn’t matter that there is no cure for the common cold. They have found their own remedies for making themselves feel better when a cold has them feeling down.

Ever since she was a little girl, Sheila Barnes has been using her mother’s liquid concoction of hot water, lemon and “a little brandy” at the first sign of a sore throat or runny nose.

Not a fan of over the counter cold products, Barnes prefers her mother’s “hot toddy,” which she said doesn’t prevent her from becoming sick, but simply helps her bounce back faster.

“It keeps you from staying sick,” she said. “I drink it when I feel it coming on and drink it for a couple of days. It helps me.”

Villages resident Shirley Tremblay makes it a point to exercise daily and eat healthy to avoid becoming sick.

Working out regularly at the Laurel Manor Recreation Center, Tremblay said she can’t remember the last time she had a cold.

But on the few occasions when she feels that tickle in her throat, Tremblay said she turns to homeopathic cold remedies such as Airborne, Zicam or echinacea.

“If I do get it, I find it goes away quicker (with these products),” she said.

Gary Ashcraft, pharmacy manager at Walgreens on Rolling Acres in Lady Lake, sees a lot of people like Tremblay, who turn to over the counter remedies in an attempt to fight off the cold while also making themselves feel better in the process.

In fact, with shelves stocked full of products, Ashcraft said, there is a lot for residents to choose from.

“There’s really just about anything over the counter that will treat just about any symptom they have,” he said.

But while those products can make you feel better, a cold, Ashcraft said, simply has to run it’s course. Staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest, he said, is one of the best ways to feel better faster.

Dr. Manuel Betancourt, of the Villa Medical Group, agrees.

“Over the counter medication they just help the patient relieve symptoms they don’t treat the infection itself,” he said. “They try to control some of the symptoms while the body takes care of the infection.”

Many residents find themselves feeling sick this time of year, Betancourt said, due to both the cold weather that pushes everyone in doors and the holiday season when families and friends gather and therefore spread germs back and forth.

A common cold will usually run its course fairly quickly, Betancourt said, and will cause symptoms such as stuffy nose, nasal discharge, and achiness. It usually does not involve a fever, he said.

“Common cold symptoms usually resolve in about three days,” he said. “If that’s not the case we recommend seeing a physician.”

Because people’s immune systems weaken with age, it is important Betancourt said, for seniors and those who suffer from chronic illnesses to monitor their symptoms closely during the cold season.

If not treated properly, what is believed to be the common cold can quickly turn into something more serious, he said, such as phenomena.

“If a patient has a chronic illness and develops a high fever, has poor energy and is not able to take enough fluids, those patients should see a physician,” he said.

The Villages Daily Sun

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