Breland: Pick an illness from January’s virus list

Published 11:33 am Friday, January 7, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

January is an unpredictable month. Apparently named for a god named Janus, who had two faces and could look both forward and backwards! It isn’t odd that almost anything can happen during this month?

This time of year, with the sudden changes in weather, people may be feeling really awful with sore throats, coughing and sneezing, usually caused by various viruses. Sometimes it is hard to know what to call the illness.

Many sensibly get tested for the current COVID virus, since the symptoms may also be the same for any other kind of virus — even the flu or cold — which are both still around!

Some may also recognize what seems to be a bad cold. Colds are caused by a virus modern science has yet to find a vaccine to prevent. If one has a cold, they usually just suffer through it and celebrate when it is gone!

I am pretty healthy and I have had all the vaccinations, but I felt fairly awful. I didn’t have a test done, but it was like every cold I have ever experienced. No fever, but a sore throat, sneezing and coughing.

Since I diagnosed myself, I did stay at home and kept it to myself. As we country folks say, I just had a “rotten” awful cold! I took over-the-counter cold pills and used a box of Kleenex. I was better in about the seven days a cold usually takes.

Have you noticed colds aren’t called colds much anymore? They are referred to as upper respiratory infections, which sounds like you are a lot sicker than when you just say, “I have a cold.”

People expect you to keep going with “just a cold,” but with an upper respiratory infection, you might have to have a test, just to make sure you don’t have COVID. With a cold, you are also contagious. So whichever you have, you should take care of yourself and others.

In olden days, the only help for a cold was Vick’s VapoRub and something for fever. I can remember as a child with a cold I felt so bad and stuffed up and Mama would rub my chest and throat with Vick’s salve. She would then warm a thick cloth, put it on top of my chest and send me to bed for a night of better breathing. It felt so good and it smelled so strong that it would almost take my breath away.

The Vick’s helped with breathing and made me feel better. Isn’t that about what most of the over-the-counter cold medications do now? There is something to help the cold symptoms and something else, usually Tylenol, to make you feel better and keep the fever down.

I used a vaporizer to put moisture in the air when my children were sick. I also used Vick’s salve on them when they were stuffed up with colds and suggested it for the grandchildren.

Given the current recommendation of not giving cold and cough medications to children under 6 years, that smelly Vick’s salve can be the answer. Some people rub it on the soles of feet and cover with socks. They say it helps with nighttime coughing. Seems the smell would be much more tolerable on the soles of the feet way away from the nose than right under it on the chest and throat!

I find people use Vick’s for many purposes from relieving achy muscles to getting rid of nail fungus. It will turn your nails dark they say, but they will gradually grow out! One source says rub it on the temples to relieve bad headaches, a little on the body will chase off mosquitoes and if a tick bites, a little dab will cause the critter to turn loose in a hurry.

You will have to try those out. Although it has been years since I have used Vick’s, the smell is easy to recall. I think I could almost clear up a stuffy nose by just imagining that very distinctive aroma!

With COVID still around, people are yet getting seriously ill. Even if you think you may just have a cold, a good idea is to get checked out medically. I took a chance. I pray you all stay well. Always be safe rather than sorry.

Retired as Associate News Editor, Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column for The Daily News. You can email her at