Upper Respiratory Infection


Conventional medicine offers many compounds which are touted to be antitussives, but which actually have little significant proven advantages over placebo. Several popular “cough medicines” have minimal, if any, efficacy and often produce significant side effects, especially in children.HoneyIn fact, in terms of cough suppression, honey is more effective at quelling cough than is dextromethorphan, with far fewer side effects – note: honey should not be given to children less than a year of age (Cohen, 2012; Oduwole, 2012; Paul, 2012; Allan, 2011).Vitamin CTaking vitamin C every day doesn’t keep you from getting sick, but it might help your cold go away faster. The preventive use of vitamin C supplementation reduced the duration of colds by about 8% in adults and 14% in children. Most of the prevention trials used a dose of 1 g/day, and the mean duration of cold symptoms was reduced by 1-1.5 days in some patients. Vitamin C is very safe, with few adverse effects at a daily dose of three grams or less. Higher doses can cause gastrointestinal upset and osmotic diarrhea.

Zinc is an essential element involved in normal cell metabolism. It is found in very high concentration in oysters, but most Americans get their zinc from red meat, poultry, and fortified cereals. Zinc is necessary for the maintenance of a potent immune system, and is associated with macrophage, neutrophil, and natural killer cell activity. It is also necessary to maintain T cell maturation. This association is what led researchers to investigate links between exogenous zinc supplementation and URI susceptibility and clearance.
Zinc supplements (i.e., lozenges) are taken every 2-3 hours while awake, until symptoms subside. For zinc acetate, this represents 12.8 mg of zinc per lozenge. Short term (2-3 days) of high dose zinc intake is generally well tolerated, but longer use is not recommended.

Sinus Irrigation
Sinus irrigation is one of the great secrets of allergy and ENT. In our experience, it is one of the most useful methods of improving mucociliary clearance by reducing the viscosity of nasal secretions—very beneficial in acute and chronic rhinosinusitis.

Practically, we use nasal irrigation in the treatment of rhinosinusitis, as well as upper respiratory infections producing nasal congestion and discharge. One important technical point: sinus irrigation differs greatly from saline nasal spray hydration, which is useful for treating dry nasal mucosa. To be truly effective, nasal irrigation must be performed with large volumes of saline, via either a Neti Pot, a bulb syringe, or a specially designed bottle. Nasal saline irrigation might also be useful in chronic sinusitis through its ability to break up bacterial biofilms that have been implicated as a contributing factor.

For most cases, we prefer the NeilMed® bottle (or equivalent), as the Neti Pot requires a tilting of the head that often results in fluid accumulating in the Eustachian tubes; the NeilMed® bottle allows the user to maintain an erect head posture, thus reducing fluid accumulation in the otic canals.

Homeopathic Remedies that have good evidence
Umcka for URIs, Zicam, Engystol, and Cold Eeze for colds, Euphorbium nasal spray for sinusitis, and Luffeel for Allergies.

Adapted from Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine – IMR – Family Medicine 2018