Get Ready to Rule Over Colds and Flu

By Sandra L. Levitt, MD of Innovative Primary Care in Gilbert


Innovative Primary Care’s (IPC) team of providers hopes that your new year is off to a healthy start. Yet we know that hasn’t been easy for many.


The flu and cold season is upon us in full force and even our office has been hit. So, it makes sense that we’d start off this year with some tips for keeping the cold and flu season at bay or at least having the right medicine cabinet full of remedies that can ease your symptoms.


When the sniffles or sneezes start, how do you know if it’s a cold or the flu?


Initially, when the flu starts it can seem like a cold – a runny nose and all over “yucky” feeling. But, within a few days, it can become a lot worse and bring muscle pains, a spike in fever and coughing. Fever and body aches are the differentiating factors and this season’s strain of flu means that taking precautions or treating the symptoms sooner rather than later is very important.


I’ve prepared a summary of how to best care for yourself this season, as well as remedies for the variety of ailments that can accompany the common cold or flu.



·         The best remedy is prevention. And that includes reinfection since this flu season is especially hard-hitting. And for Dr. Levitt that means taking quality immunity-building supplements, getting your rest, and washing your hands diligently after your outings in the public.

·         If you do get sick, focus on getting rest. If you don’t, your immune system won’t work as well and it will take longer for you to get better. Take time off from work to not only speed your recovery, but prevent others from getting sick.

·         Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids including: water, herbal teas, and ginger tea (cut up a few pieces of fresh ginger in hot water and steep 15 minutes. May add cayenne pepper and 0.5-1 tsp of raw honey), soup broths and smoothies made with protein powder and berries. AVOID fruit juices as they are high in sugar.

·         If you are not improving within a 7-10-day period, contact your healthcare provider for further suggestions.

·         The common cold and flu are caused by viruses; therefore, antibiotics are not a remedy as they do not kill viruses. Taking antibiotics when not indicated can have negative effects on your good intestinal bacteria. This can increase the risk for diarrhea, including due to a bad bacteria called Clostridium Difficile (or C. Diff). This can be a very serious infection, and may be very difficult to eliminate. And there could be long-term impacts on certain antibiotics no longer having the impact on treating certain issues. Sometimes we just have to embrace the idea that it will take rest and time to get over these symptoms.





Sore Throat

·         Cepacol Anesthetic or Chloraseptic Lozenges

·         Place 1 tbsp. of honey, 1 tsp. of garlic, and 1 slice of lemon in 4-8 ounces of hot water. Sip.

·         Herbal Tea: Throat Coat by Traditional medicinal, Throat Comfort by Yogi, Throat Clarity by Full Leaf Tea Co.

·         Saltwater gargle – put 1 tsp. of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt in 4 ounces of water and gargle holding it at the back of the throat for as long as possible before spitting out.

·         Replace your toothbrush after illness has resolved. (And wipe down light switches, handles and other things you might have touched – frequently.)


Chest Congestion

·         N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) 500 mg – Take 2 tablets up to 3 times a day, with or without food

·         Mucinex 600 mg – Take 2 twice a day, with or without food

·         Steam inhalation – Boil a pot of water with oregano oil or oregano, position yourself so that your head is above the water, no closer than 10 in. Drape a towel over your head and the container forming a tent. Inhale the vapor with slow deep breaths for 5-10 minutes.

·         Medrol Dose pack – a steroid, may be needed to help clear your congestion (by prescription)



·         Chestal Cold & Cough by Boiron (homeopathic, non-drowsy) – at local drug and health food stores. Take as directed on package.

·         Robitussin DM, or plain DM (Dextromethorphan) as directed on the package

·         Tessalon Pearls (Benzonatate) 200 mg – up to 3 times a day (by prescription)

·         Narcotic cough syrup with codeine or hydrocodone – 1 tsp. every 4 hours as needed (by prescription. May cause drowsiness)


Sinus Congestion

·         Neti Pot/Sinus Rinse with Breathe Free salt – natural salt infused with 4 essential oils. Follow directions on the bottle.

·         Sudafed (may cause dry mouth, fast heart rate, and increase blood pressure)

·         N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) 500 mg- Take 2 tablets up to 3 times a day, with or without food.

·         Mucinex 600 mg – Take 2 twice a day, with or without food

·         Aller-C (Vital Nutrients) – 1-3 times daily, with or without food


Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Dr. Levitt’s Healthy Living Newsletter in the December 2017 issue. We reprint here with permission from Dr. Levitt.

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