I’m very excited today. It seems I have been nominated for an award. The Guild of Health Writers award for Best Consumer Weekly Feature to be precise – for a piece I wrote for the British magazine Stylist. Considering the last thing I won was…..ummmmm, nothing ever….I’m not holding out much hope (especially as my competitors include two journalists from New Scientist, the luvverly Peta Bee for a piece in The Sunday Times and Lucy Jolin over at Take A Break) hence my milking it for much excitement now.
The piece was on whether we would ever cure the cold – the general consensus being probably that we will, but not just yet. It was fascinating to write. The full piece is here, (go to page 53) but if you don’t have time to click, here’s my favourite facts from it….
- One sneeze somewhere crowded like a station escalator could infect 150 people in five minutes.
Scientists have cured the cold already. They did it in the 1960s with a drug called interferon. The tiny problem was that it took the world’s entire supply of the drug to do it and that only treated 20 people. It was decided it wasn’t a hugely sustainable option.
*When you’re infected with a cold, 6530 of your genes switch on or off while attempting to fight it. Most of the symptoms you get come from this genetic cascade.
- The cold is an astonishing clever virus. Most infections that spread as readily as colds kill their host limiting their survival, colds however just make you feel a bit rubbish allowing you to wander round spreading the virus nicely to lots of other willing bodies.
Personally, I have a patented formula for cold attack. As soon as I suspect one is coming, I dose up with Vicks First Defence (experts say it’s the closest thing to a cure we have so far as it stops the virus replicating); drink 1 litre of fresh orange juice in a one hour period and knock back echinacea tincture roughly every 3 hours. If I do all of the above within an hour of the first inkling, I will get horribly ill for half a day and that’s it. If the lurgy is in the house but I don’t feel sick yet, then I use Sambucol Immuno Forte tablets which tends to keep it at bay.
If you do succumb though remember this from Jennifer Ackerman, author of the fabulous book Ah-Choo: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold, ‘having a cold gives us a chance to get off the merry go round for a few days. It’s a time for uninterrupted reading which few of us get to indulge in the way we used to.’ In other words, stay in bed, milk the sympathy and enjoy it. See there’s no truth in the rumour that taking cold medicines prolongs your symptoms so you can pop your preferred remedy; get rid of the symptoms and wallow in the time off. Hoorah….