I did quarantine myself as much as possible. Which was easy since I live alone and work at home. When you take oral antibiotics you "sterilize" your body systemically and are safer to be around others. When healing naturally, you still have plenty of germs to spread around, so be careful.
So, what methods did I use that don't require a doctor's visit?
1.) Drink plenty of hot liquids. Water, tea, fruit juice, fruit drinks, warm gelatin or broth based soups. Hot liquids help thin mucous secretions and drain mucous secretions faster. Cold liquids like iced carbonated beverages slow the draining of mucous secretions. Chicken noodle soup has been shown to be better at thinning and draining mucous secretions. Remember to hold your head over hot, steaming liquids while you drink. (Quoted from Ask The Dietician)
2.) Eat/drink good, healthy foods with plenty of vitamins, esp. Vit C. (such as oranges, fruit juices, chicken soup, green tea, herbal tea, mangoes, tomatoes, broccoli, whole grain bread, miso broth, jello made with fruit juices instead of water, etc.) You will want to consume as many liquids as possible to keep your mucous thin.
3.) Only eat or drink what your tummy can tolerate if it is upset. If you are nauseous, chew candied ginger (which you can make yourself... see below) or drink ginger tea (commercial or just a fresh hunk of ginger with honey and lemon in hot water.) Cola syrup (available over-the-counter) also works well. Just a plain antacid may work as well.
4.) Make/use a heating pack to hold on a painful ear, a swollen gland, or a sore nose.
5.) Make/buy saline nasal spray to keep your nasal passages hydrated and to prevent bloody noses. (To make saline: boil 1 cup of tap water. Add 1/4 teaspoon to the water. Let cool.)
6.) Take an over-the-counter allergy pill daily
(such as Claratin. Benedryl will also work but will make you sleepy.)
7.) Sleep as much as possible.
8.) Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap to prevent the spread of the cold virus or upper respiratory infections. Use the paper towels you dry your hands with to turn off the water faucet and open the door to bathrooms. Research has shown that aerosol (sneezing), direct hand-to-hand contact, door handles, pens, light switches, TV remote controls, faucets, telephones and toys are mostly responsible for increasing exposure to the cold rhinovirus for up to 18 hours at room temperature after a person with a cold has touched them. Touching your eyes or nose after touching an infected surface will increase the likelihood of your getting a cold. Use of alcohol hand sanitizers is effective at reducing exposure to the cold virus during the cold season. Keep your distance from people with a cold. (Quoted from Ask The Dietician)
9.) Wash all eating or drinking utensils in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher after each use. Use glasses and silverware once then wash to limit the spread of the virus. Remember to wash the bathroom drinking cup too. If you are too sick to wash dishes, use disposable dishes, cups and silverware. (Quoted from Ask The Dietician)
10.) Sneeze into your sleeve rather than a disposable tissue or handkerchief to limit the spread of the cold virus. (Quoted from Ask The Dietician)
11.) Take ibuprofen every 4-6 hours to reduce the inflammation in your nasal passages and throat.
12.) Take Excedrin Sinus Headache to help with sinus pain.
13.) Suck cough drops or hand candy to soothe a sore throat or a cough. Sugar-free is the best as sugar has been proven to make a cough worse.
14.) If you develop a fever and/or body aches, see a doctor. You may have the flu.
ADDITION: It always seems that I forget something... Anyway, three more ways I got healthy.
15.) Eat raw garlic. It is hard to do and even a bit traumatic, but it works. Garlic has been proven to be anti-viral and eating it raw can kill those viruses growing in your throat. If you chicken out, you can always take garlic pills though they aren't as potent.
16.) Make sure you are taking a multi-vitamin and Vitamin C. When I am sick I like to take 2000 milligrams of Vit C spread out over the day. Don't worry, you can't take too much if you only take it for a short period of time. Your body just excretes the excess in your urine. But over the long-run you shouldn't take more than 500 milligrams/day. Having the proper vitamins and minerals when sick will strengthen your immune system and help make up for nutrients you are missing by having a poor diet when sick.
17.) Eat cheese. Specifically Camembert or Brie. Their rinds are sprayed with penicillium mold (the mold from which the antibiotic penicillin is derived) which is still alive when you eat it. Of course, you must eat the white rind to get the benefit. Actually, I can't find any proof that there is any benefit. But I am always looking for an excuse to eat good cheese!
NOTE: Antibiotics don't work for viruses (such as a cold or flu). They should be used for bacterial infections only. Do not use antibiotics you have left over. All the pills prescribed should be taken, so you shouldn't have any left over. They also do not keep well and you may be taking them for the wrong thing.
1 large hunk of fresh ginger
Peel all the skin off the ginger.
Slice the ginger into small bite-sized pieces.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and gently simmer the ginger pieces in it until they are tender (about 30 minutes.)
Drain off the water.
Measure the cooked ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar.
In the same saucepan, add the ginger and sugar with 1-2 Tablespoons of water.
Boil the mixture until the ginger turns translucent and the liquid is almost evaporated.
Reduce the heat and cook until the liquid is almost gone.
Toss the ginger pieces in sugar.
Lay them out on a plate and let them dry.
They keep indefinitely.
Some people have wondered why I would want to go through this instead of just going to the doctor. I have been thinking that over. What did I gain by avoiding western medicine (for the most part?)
+ I avoided the 20 minute one-way drive to the doctor. Not a long trip, but who has extra gas these days?
- I didn't save any money skipping the doctor or by not getting any meds because I have good insurance and neither would have cost me anything. Well, maybe a $1.10 co-pay for meds. But I spent $7 for the over-the-counter allergy medicine, so I lost money there. I also bought cough drops, but I would have bought them either way.
+ I helped save the environment from the excesses of medical and pharmaceutical waste. I also saved it from the antibiotics I would have passed into our sewer system.
- I felt sick for much longer I probably would have on meds. Though I may have also had a viral infection and antibiotics wouldn't have helped that.
+ I am secure in the knowledge that if the Apocalypse occurs I will be able to heal from simple infections on my own.
+ I have a better understanding of my body and my illness. Instead of just throwing meds at my sickness, I listened to my body and figured out it's needs.
Would I do it again? Probably.
NOTE: My mother, who has her B.S. R.N. and is the head of student health at a private boarding school, looked over my list for accuracy and officially added her stamp of approval.