Cold (virus), and other random bits

Cold.  So, I had (or have?) one.  Last remnant bits as I write this – generally takes nose/sinuses a few days to get 100% back to what’s “normal” for me, all other symptoms quite gone now (yea!).  On my (proto)typical cold, nose/sinuses is very last bit to 100% recover.  Yup, colds, and flu, etc., are rather to quite annoying.  Ah, but could be worse, eh?  I should complain(?).

Fortunately, at least my entire adult life, I get colds quite rarely.  About once every 3 years or so is rather typical for me, though occasionally that span between colds might only be about a year or less – but that’s much more the exception, than the rule, for me.  But I do more commonly get, what I term, micro-colds.  Colds – if they’re colds at all – that are so mild in symptoms, and only partial set of symptoms at that, and so brief (typically 24 hours or less), that I’m not really sure if they’re “colds” or not.  And flu?  More like less than once every 15 years – if even that.

My (proto-)typical cold.  Would start with sore/scratchy throat – or perhaps even throat feeling a slight bit “off”, for a very short bit (several hours or less).  Then quickly progresses to a rather to quite sore throat.  That goes on for about a couple days.  Soon after sore throat symptoms are in full swing, there’s the nose/sinuses.  Mix of drippy and/or clogged, or even both at the same time.  Anyway, that goes on for several days, and is last symptom to clear.  And even after it seems the cold is “all gone”, sinuses and nose always seem to lag behind a couple days or more getting 100% back to what’s my “normal” for me on them – almost as if they need to readjust and relearn to how they were before the whole cold “adventure” came into the mix.  Other symptoms?  Sure, but those are variable, and sometimes mostly or entirely absent.  From the more common/probable with me to less so:  stomach – sort of an odd “hollow”/empty/grumblely kind of feeling to it – not “upset” per se, but just sort of an odd feeling empty and bit of grumble – but not like it would typically feel like if it was, e.g. empty hungry grumbling, but a somewhat distinctly different feel to it.  Some mix of general or bit more tiredness – most notably physically – just less energy/energetic, etc., tire more easily.  Can also impact the head somewhat – sometimes just a bit more foggy/tired, not so much most of the time, but sometimes at least some moderate bit, give or take a bit.  Sometimes too, hard to separate out how much of the mental bit is attitude – just not feeling like doing or concentrating on all that much, due to annoyance of other symptoms – particularly after they’ve been dragging on a while.  Fever?  I’m going to skip clinical/medical definition and differentiation between cold and flu here, and use them as I commonly use them – and experience them as related set of symptoms, or not.  So, yes, sometimes slight to modest fever with cold.  Most of the time not – or slight enough I never particularly notice it.  So, yes, sometimes with fever – at least part of the time, often completely without, or so slight I never notice or suspect fever as part of the mix (e.g. don’t feel chilled/cold or warm/hot, so don’t suspect fever in the mix – and typically wouldn’t check if I didn’t suspect a fever of being present).  And also rather rarely, might have a shortish span of … not quite headache, but sort of headachey, and yet more rarely (may have with that) some visual light sensitivity.  Anyway, that’s my (proto-)typical cold.  Since at least I was a young kid (if not even back through infancy), through current – and likely the remainder of my life too.  That pattern really hasn’t changed … except for the frequency, … and the bit about micro-colds.

Micro-colds.  Yup, at least what I term such.  Typically very slight hint of throat feeling a bit odd/”off”, or trace of scratchy/irritated.  And formuch shorter than 24 hours … 12 to 6 or fewer hours being pretty typical (maybe as few as 3 or so?).  So weak in symptoms, I’m not sure if it’s (start of) cold, or maybe I just swallowed something roughly like hard rough cracker or piece of toast and irritated my throat a bit.  And next thing I know, it’s gone – completely.  That’s it.  Sometime too, sinuses might feel a bit off/odd/irritated for a similar length of time, typically trailing just behind the throat “symptoms” – if I can really call it that – as they’re so weak.  Then, all gone, all better, and often left wondering if there was anything there at all – or at least any trace of any actual cold virus or the like.  Micro-colds.  So, yeah, I typically have one of those (or such an experience), maybe on average about once every 12 to 18 months or so – and seemingly (much?) more likely so if I haven’t actually had one of my much more (proto-)typical colds in a while – like in over a year or more.  Anyway, I guestimate, at least in cases where those are actually from some virus, that’s essentially my immune system beating the buggers out before they manage to get more fully established and develop into a full-blown cold.

Immune system – mine seems to, as far as I’m aware, work pretty darn well (but not too well, either – as that could also be problematic).  I don’t take any “unsual” precautions.  Sure I was my hands – basic hygiene and all that.  But I don’t wash/wipe/sanitize my hands after touching everything and all the time.  Sure, certainly, after the restroom, before eating, before preparing food, before touching food when facilities are reasonably conveniently available.  But I don’t, e.g., use sanitizing wipes/liquids/gels on my hands, or use those after touching anything that might have been touched by the public, or on surfaces the public may have touched before touching them.  Yes, I use public transportation.  Yup, touch things on public transportation.  No, I don’t worry about it.  No, I don’t lick my hands, palms, and fingertips after touching surfaces on public transportation, nor do I sanitize my hands after such a touch before touching my face or rubbing my eyes … though when rubbing my eye I’ll often think to use back of my hand or knuckle(s) instead of fingertips – but I’m sure I’m not 100% consistent on that either.  Anyway, when I was a kid, I had lots of colds – as younger kid, several per year was pretty typical for me.  Likewise, flu, probably about once a year or so, give or take – maybe a bit less, but something fairly close to that – especially as a younger kid.  But I guess in many/most of those regards I’m relatively typical/”average” – exception being the relative rarity of cold/flu as an adult.  Yeah, when, rather commonly, all my coworkers around me at work would get sick, but I wouldn’t, I’d often, somewhat teasingly tell them, “Don’t worry, I’m an immune carrier.”   ;-)

Another odd bit on immune system and fevers.  Used to scare the heck out of my mom as a child, but I’d have tendency to run rather to quite high fevers.  Generally for rather to quite short period of time, but pretty high (I think somewhere in the 102 to 104 F range).  My body still does that occasionally, but perhaps rather differently.  Most notably it sometimes does that at the onset of a cold.  And, interestingly and usefully, when it does so, and if I happen to particularly catch notice of it and such, if I fairly promptly head to bed, bury myself in the cover(s)/blanket(s), and “sleep it off”, what happens about half or more of the time, is I (mostly) sleep, run a fairly high fever for a few hours, rest/sleep another hour or two or so, and wake/get up and – wahla! (wala … I don’t know how to spell it and The Internet isn’t helping).  Cold completely gone – “burnt” off / cooked out(!).  Might be a bit more tired after that for modest bit (running that high a fever tends to be kind of exhausting/draining) – but otherwise perfectly fine. So, I guess I’m rather of the opinion that fighting fever isn’t always a good idea – particularly if it’s not too high/long of a fever.  Millions or so of years of evolution, the species has some pretty good immune defenses/reactions, eh?  And perhaps unfortunately, the viruses also evolve.

And flu?  As an adult, I get a flu – or other possibly non-cold virus – flu, or whatnot, about once every 15 years, give or take.  Really, my entire adult life, have only had what might’ve been flu twice – in span of … well, over 30 years now.  Once, not sure what it was, perhaps a “24 hour flu” – got real sick quickly, puked and all that, felt most or all the flu symptoms I typically would, … but it was all over and felt perfectly fine, less than 24 hours after it started.  I’m guessing that was flu – but an odd (and short) one.  Some have suggested food poisoning or the like – but that seems relatively unlikely, as from what I understand, that’s typically more severe and longer lasting, and lacks most of the other flu-like symptoms, and also, others ate more-or-less same food where I did, and didn’t get sick.  One other time, symptoms definitely not cold-like.  But some bits particularly odd about it.  Had a quite persistent cough, but the cough wasn’t triggered by something going on with or in the lungs, or throat/sinuses – at least not directly.  It was a very odd (and I’d say evolved) virus – it caused diaphragm twitches – sort of similar to hiccups, but not, and that was/triggered the coughing.  As those twitches would make a cough-like reaction, and that would tend to tickle and irritate the throat, which would tend to make the throat sensitive and more probable to trigger a cough, essentially causing a vicious cycle.  And breaking the cycle?  That was mostly persistent use of Luden’s (Wild Cherry) – keep ’em with me, and at the slightest hint of cough or tickle in the throat or those diaphragm twitches, take ’em, and keep taking ’em, until there was no trace of tickle in throat and the twitches were no longer present.  Not really sure if that one was flu.  At least one person suggested it was or likely was Whooping cough (Pertussis).  I kind’a doubt that, but perhaps so.  Had vaccine and all, but maybe I wasn’t 100% current on any applicable booster(s), and/or maybe it was a very weakened one going against vaccine and/or remnants thereof?  In any case, that one hung on a fair while (weeks) – but for the most part wasn’t very annoying or severe at all.  Mostly just persistently annoying for a rather long while with the diaphragm twitches –> (throat tickle / cough) cycle that was hard (and long) to break.  At its worst, that made eating rather annoying – rather like trying to eat while having a significant case of the hiccups.  So, anyway, at most, have had flu twice in all my adult life (that’s 32+ years now).  I’ve gotten flu shot last 2 years now.  The recommendations have changed over the years, so now it’s (also) recommended I get the flu shot (along with almost everybody).  At the low rate I get flu, statistically (small numbers), I may never know if the flu shot ever actually works for me and prevents me from getting any flu(!).  But regardless, probably still quite worth doing – notably may help prevent me from transmitting flu (immune carrier?), and given flu risks, well, maybe some day it might save my life – I might never know it did so, but there’s a (quite) small, but non-trivial probability that it might … so, a good safety/preventive precaution.

And what I term “flu” – my (proto-)typical flu – okay, so thus far pretty much non-existent as an adult, but nevertheless:  Most notably rather to quite nauseous, general stomach upset/unrest.  Cold/chills, typically at least some fever somewhere along the way.  Maybe about half the time, some general acheyness (joints, muscles, general body slight discomfort).  Never a sore throat (unless caused by cough), most of the time no or little cough, if at all, but sometimes up to moderate bit of cough mixed in, at least in parts.  Not 100% sure on that though – it’s been such a very long time ago.  Likewise, maybe nose/sinuses runny/drippy and/or clogged?  Really don’t remember for sure.  Sometimes headachey/headache, may have visual light sensitivity along with that.  Generally tend to feel (more) tired / run down – often correlates particularly to fever, fever level, and/or recovery from/after fever.

Well, yes, rare that I get a cold. But I got one. :-/ It snuck in with slightest traces, as far as I could tell, Wednesday morning. What I’d term a “micro-cold” for me – so weak I wasn’t sure if there was something there or not. Started with throat feeling, not sore, but just sort of “off” and not exactly right – like perhaps I’d slept on it weird? … but not.  But even that felt much better after I’d eaten something a bit later.  But still not 100%.  About the same for Thursday – not throat, but nose/sinuses – bit off and sensitive, slightly irritated – but again, pretty slight.. But by Friday, it definitely wasn’t micro. Buggers. Not too horrible, but then hoping I was past the worst of it, or soon would be. It was mostly just annoying my nose/sinuses, and a few bits/traces of other symptoms here ‘n there. Was about zero of sore throat, which is somewhat odd for me, as that’s typically first symptom for me, and significant for the first couple days or so. Throat felt a bit odd/”off” Wednesday morning, but that passed by about mid-day. But alas, other symptoms (notably nose/sinuses) followed. Oye, and sometimes with cold or flu, get (quasi-)headachey and may also have light sensitivity – got that Friday night and into Saturday morning – ugh – forgot how annoying that can be!  Hmmm, was curious if I had any trace of fever (sometime I’ll have slight/moderate fever and not notice it) – took my temperature – temperature came out low – I think it was 97.8 or something like that – and I gave it a good 6 minutes to read it too (ye olde mercury oral thermometer), as I “didn’t believe” when I first read it, and decided to give it another good three minutes. Weird. Well, maybe my body wasn’t quite “awake” yet when I took that temperature – or maybe the thermometer is off? – though that seems rather unlikely.  Anyway, that was then.  It seemed to peak in the Friday / Saturday A.M. range, and by Saturday afternoon, felt much better, and symptoms seemed to be fading.  I also found myself having a craving for fish on Saturday – almost bought a can of sardines that caught my eye as I passed by it.  By Sunday, feeling much better still, energy (mostly) back and … hungry? … more like ravenous.  I’d eaten “well enough” through the cold, but Sunday I felt like I was starving – and oddly/strangely(?) craving fish.  So, I did some grocery shopping – already had stuff at home, but got some more things, and, most notably, also got some fish – and some lemons.  And made myself a nice large fish (& veggie) meal (the leftovers of which I’m still eating).  And yes, I eat meat – not a whole helluva lot, but certainly do.  On average consume even much less of it when I’m buying it to prepare for myself, but do certainly buy it once in a while.  And I don’t like to waste food – especially meat.  So, yes, it’s all getting consumed – or at least the human edible parts.  And the other bits may get fed to carnivore that dines on a variety of mostly raw prey … and if not that, then, well, there’s the compost pile or compost bin.  Ah, and first time I’d ever gotten a whole stripped bass.  Alas, my striped bass fish fillet preparation work … uh, … needs work.  Not exactly disaster – first side came out pretty well, but second side, … ugh.  Sort’a reminds me of the first time I cut up a whole chicken.  Definitely serious room for improvement.

Anyway, … cold/flu doesn’t “stop” me, but, I tend to try and avoid overdoing it – so was kind’a taking it easy. Decided to skip my tentative plans to trek to San Francisco Sunday.

Other random bits.  Cold flu … all the miracles of modern medicine and … well, none of that shortens it.  Well, except flu shot may be good for some prevention.  Drugs, symptomatic relief?  I mostly just don’t like that stuff – mostly due to what it is, side effects and how it makes me feel, and/or it often just doesn’t work, or doesn’t work well, on me.  So I mostly never “take anything” – at least in terms of medication(s), for cold flu.  However, the two bits I do and quite recommend.  For sore throat or cough (most notably tickle in throat aggravating cough and cough aggravating throat, etc.), Luden’s, notably my particular favorite: Luden’s Wild Cherry throat drops – or if/as one may prefer, any of their other flavors with the same pectin content.  Active ingredient?  Yes, pectin.  Drug or narcotic?  No.  So, the really great cool thing about that, is take as needed/desired.  None of that limit of 1 per hour or 6 or 8 or 12 per 24 hours or anything like that.  No risk of overdose or side effects – as there’s no “drug” there.  So, really great to be able to take as needed, particularly when throat is unhappy/irritated.  Unlike other lozenges, that, e.g., one can take at most one per hour and … well, much less than an hour later the symptomatic relief may be insufficient, and, e.g., throat may be quite sore again, or irritated/ticklish and triggering vicious coughing cycle.  Anyway, Luden’s are great in that regard – not stuck with some limited dosage/timetable.  And other bit, wasabi!  Yup, want/need to get nose/sinuses clear?  Wasabi!  Works great, can “apply” (eat) as needed.  When I was in my teens (or a bit younger), I first discovered similar.  Used to sniff the jar of horseradish that was in the refrigerator.  Well, consuming some wasabi is much more effective.  Also tastey – goes nice on various dishes with some rice, among other possibilities.  Also good with green tea (as complimentary beverage – I wouldn’t think to mix them).  And likewise, none of the drug downsides or side effects (or limitations) of taking medications.  And as a bonus, wasabi works damn fast!  :-)  Almost instant!  Yup, probably about half of the reason I keep wasabi in stock – if I ever need/want my nose/sinuses clear … wasabi!  :-)  Other random (non-drug) hints/tips/suggestions:  Take it easy, don’t overdo it.  But don’t do nothing the whole time.  Get some fresh air, sunshine, and at least modest bits of exercise.  Do something(s) to keep/stay active – as and to the extent one feels reasonably up to it – but again, don’t overdo, and give oneself permission to rest/relax – especially as/when it may be needed/beneficial.  Drink plenty of fluids.  Juices are good.  I wouldn’t overdo the water, but get sufficient fluids in one way or another.  Throat too sore to (comfortably) swallow?  See what I mention above about Luden’s – that should take care of that.  Eat … reasonably.  Sometimes that might be a lot, be sure it’s always “enough”, and reasonably healthy or better.  Ginger can help with upset stomach – e.g. ginger ale.  Generally good: honey, lemon/citrus, tea, green tea.  Dairy (e.g. especially milk) can somewhat aggravate sore throat … perhaps excepting ice cream? … well, not really, but that probably goes down easier among dairy products while having a sore throat (can’t say I’ve tried that much – or perhaps even at all – but the theory sounds good – and tasty … just remember healthy and balance too).  Feed a cold, starve a fever, or is it the other way around?  Don’t know, don’t care – use what’s reasonably healthy and works for your body – that’s usually not starve, nor (over)stuff.  And remember the liquids.  Body tends to burn more calories and use/expel more liquids to fight cold/flu, so can become dehydrated without sufficient liquids, so stay reasonably well hydrated, as becoming dehydrated makes it harder/slower/longer to get to recovered.

Anyway, as I’m writing this now, damn near all better!  :-) … pretty much been that way since around Saturday P.M. – so that’s all good.  Though the cold unfortunately wasn’t (just) a micro-cold, at least the “worst of it” – more full-blown cold, was mostly limited to Friday and first half of Saturday.  Other than that, really not too bad at all – so, 36 hours or so of “real” cold … ain’t all that bad – particularly when it’s been a couple years or so since last of similar.

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