From hot punch to chlorine and still no cure for the cold

Country Living with Francis Farragher

IF I had a euro for everyone I met over the course of the past month either complaining of a head cold, wheeziness or a cough, then I’d have a fair bit of counting to do. Needless to say, I’m included in that not-so-merry band of warriors with the sinuses intermittently blocked over recent weeks and not that much relief to be had either from the squirting of nasal sprays through the nostrils.

It is of course one of the great medical mysteries, how after so many advances in medicine, that no cure or preventative tablet has been found to deal with an ailment which is often more of an annoyance rather than a debilitating condition.

As children, if we were struck down with a heavy cold, one of the ‘medicines’ delivered – I presume (hope) in very light doses – was a cup of hot punch which we were told to drink slowly, and to inhale through the nostrils the steam from the piping hot whiskey/water mixture. Is it any wonder some of us developed ‘a fondness for the drink’?

Another ‘cure’ for a sore throat was drinking a mixture of almost boiling hot tea with a spoon of butter melted on top but after one round of that on the treatment table, I made a personal decision never to complain of that condition again. A case of the cure being worse than the disease.

The common cold ailment has also managed to brand the human male population of this earth as puny, whinging chickens who have been struck down with the ‘man flu’, clearly implying that we grossly exaggerate our symptoms, a cruel allegation to make against all us men folk.

While it might be relatively harmless in most cases, the common cold though is a stealthy little pest which can sweep through families, schools, workplaces and hospitals with an inevitability that we all have gradually become resigned to.

It is of course an ailment which is something of a Godsend to the pharmaceutical industry with tens of millions of euros being spent in Ireland each year on over-the-counter remedies and from personal experimentation, few of them seem to be effective.

Most of us have a grudging resignation to our fate when the cold comes to our door on the basis that it will takes its course and hopefully depart over the course of a week or so unless of course it decides to congest the lungs which inevitably means a trip to the local physician.

Pictured: Poor me: sniffles and sneezes.  

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