COLUMN: Gargling against the common cold
It’s that time of year again.
Shirts begin to hide under sweaters and pullovers. Shorts give way to sweatpants and jogging pants. And sniffles, tissues and coughs start entering classrooms.
As the blazing heat of summer finally succumbs to the cold winds from the north, OU is coming down with the common cold.
Now, we’ve all been told that there is no cure for the common cold, that we just have to wait it out and drink our fluids. I’d like you to take that advice with a pinch of salt. Literally.
As your grandma may or may not have told you, salt-water gargling actually reduces symptoms associated with upper-respiratory tract infections — the root of many of the familiar symptoms of the common cold, including sore throats and congestion.
In a couple weeks, the Mayo Clinic will publish its latest edition of its Book of Home Remedies, in which editor-in-chief Dr. Philip T. Hagen notes that a saline solution uses osmotic pressure to pull fluid from swelling in the throat, decreasing the severity of the infection.
Five years ago, a preliminary study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that individuals who gargled three times a day over a 60-day period saw a 40 percent decrease in upper-respiratory tract infections.
In addition, the physical act of gargling loosens the thick mucus build-up in the throat, clearing away invading bacteria and easing congestion.
A 2008 study published in BioMed Central Health Services Research reveals a second benefit of this method. The study investigated plain water-gargling as a low-cost means of fighting these infections. The results were very promising. Compared to the control group, the group of water-garglers had over a third less infections.
So, if you’ve got a scratchy throat but would rather pay for school than meds, don’t fret.
Go to Crossroads. Ask for a water cup. Fill it with water, empty in a few salt packets, stir vigorously and head to the bathroom. Gargle, and spit.
Total cost: the calories it took to walk to the Union.
If you don’t like the idea of gargling salty water for 30 seconds a couple times a day to help kick your cough, add some flavor. Squeeze a lemon, pour in some sugar or even try it with iced-tea instead of water.
— Jay Kumar, microbiology sophomore