Monday, October 03, 2011

Granny's remedies

By yesterday morning one eye was bloodshot and had been for two days without any sign of healing. The other was aching and I was losing hearing in the left ear. It was definitely the worst cold I've had since I've had this problem and, worse, it was persisting.

Out of necessity comes invention - or rather reinvention. I remembered getting sinusitis and bad colds as a child. I also know well the symptoms of the other kind of sinusitis, call it inflammatory sinusitis if you like as I'm probably not meant to call it allergic sinusitis. Maybe non-allergic sinusitis to rhyme with non-allergic rhinusitis.

Anyway this was not non-allergic sinusitis, it was viral sinusitis. And the old remedy involves getting plenty of steam and sticking your face in it. This is what I did. It flushes the virus out of the cavities of the face. I combined this with some new tricks - like swallowing to open the  eustachian tubes and flush anything down from the ears. And, as my throat was quite lumpy, I put some salt in some hot water and gargled it.

Within a few hours I was cured. The blood went from the eye as did the aching. I haven't had a chance to test the hearing. At best all that remains is a mild cold.

So what on earth happened? My hyperactive immune system is meant to see off colds - and in case of doubt I thought to get it going with redbush tea and even a glass of wine. My theory is this and I'm no immunologist. The immune system works in several waves - the first is the blunt response to stave off infection. That's what you get when there's a salicylate reaction. Later on the immune system fine tunes itself to deal with particular viruses.

Now for the last five years I've barely had a cold or flu because it's been seen off at the outset. So there's been no fine-tuning against new viruses. The effect is similar to Native Americans or Martians being exposed to the European common cold. I'd lost my immune protection.

So once the virus got through I was vulnerable - and ended up spending two days and many more hours in bed together with a nasty bout of sinusitis.


PS In researching this I went back to several of the Wikipedia sources to make sure I'm not talking utter nonsense. Taken together they are very good. The article on salicylate sensitivity is good but you need to follow the link to Montelukast and on to leukotrienes, the arichidonic cascade etc to get the full story. The front-line immune cells are called neutrophils and they appear to be guided by leukotrienes, which also cause inflammation and hence asthma and other symptoms of allergy.

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