Afternoon Inquisition 5.26

I spent the weekend at Balticon, having the swellest time ever.  Even though this is more of a new media/scifi convention than it is a skeptics convention,  there were no shortage of the coolest skeptic peeps ever.  I would have seen more panels and done some shopping, but I came down with the worst cold evah!

Do you think I have ebola, or is it Swine Flu?  What’s the best skeptically sound cure you have for me? Best skeptically unsound suggestions?


A B Kovacs is the Director of Døøm at Empty Set Entertainment, a publishing company she co-founded with critical thinker and fiction author Scott Sigler. She considers herself a “Creative Adjacent” — helping creative people be more productive and prolific by managing the logistics of Making for the masses. She's a science nerd, a rabid movie geek, and an unrepentantly voracious reader. She doesn't like chocolate all that much.

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  1. Skeptically sound: Rest a lot. Water, water, water! 100% fruit juice on occasion. No soda or alcohol! OTC cold pills/pain meds to ease symptoms if needed. More rest. Doctor if you suddenly get worse, or can’t seem to get better, or you get a really high fever. Oh, and more water. And some more rest.

    That’s it!

  2. Skeptically sound cure —
    It is a virus, and you will either get over it or not. If you get a prescription for Tam-Flu it will decrease symptoms by 24 hours, but may make you feel worse. Symptomatic relief with pseudafed (you have to ask them for it) – and aspirin – .

    Skeptically unsound suggestions:

    Chicken soup made with homeopathic water that has the image of anti-flu with any given ancient herb that didn’t work them. Throw in some acupuncture because you can never get enough needles.

  3. Unless you’re bleeding from all orifices, you don;t have Ebola, Dah-h-h-ling! ;-)

  4. Drink lots of alchohol with no water. Start at about 3 pm, skip dinner, and drink, drink, drink. When you wake up the next morning, your cold symptoms will be all gone! Of course they will have been replaced with the worst hangover imaginable, but no cold symtoms!

  5. @infinitemonkey: and re: doctor: You probably don’t even need to do that if you’re a normal, healthy person, and you’re not abnormally sick, or don’t think you have some sort of infection (like that one time I got a UTI–with minimal physical symptoms–at the same time I got a cold, ear and possible strep infection. THAT WAS FUN.)

    I always find it weird when people go to a doctor for a cold.

  6. Oh, it’s totally the Black Death, I’m sure. I can sense it. My mommy instinct says it must be true. And since everyone else has been giving crazy science-y advice, I’ll tell you that you should soak your hands in vinegar and visualize yourself healthy. Really, it’s that easy. It worked for me! (cough, cough, snif)

  7. On a somewhat related natural cure note:
    At the bar with a friend she reported a bad head cold which was holding back her drinking. Being the ever supportive friend I ordered her a prairie fire (tequila and Tabasco) shot. Not telling her what it was (she would have never taken it if I did) she swigged back, coughed, sputtered, then hurled insults to me in regards to the promiscuity of my mother.

    After her angry tirate she found she could breath and the head cold was gone! Granted this is antidotal the the n’th degree. But I would still try it. Actually I would have you video tape it and then post it on youtube as you try it. If it doesn’t make you feel better, it should at least provide the rest of us with a good laugh, which will make us feel better.

  8. @marilove: If its something you may think is serious, of course, go to the doctor. If its something you think is normal, like a common cold, take a couple days of and rest. If you don’t get better, or get worse, then, IMH-expert-O, its the sign of something more serious.

    BTW, is it just me, or does everything starts with flu-like symptoms? It seems to be like chicken-everything tastes like it.

  9. @infinitemonkey: Oh, I totes agree. Even *I* went to the doctor last time I got sick. I thought it was just a bad cold, but I wasn’t getting better, and that’s highly unlike me. If I get sick, the worst of it is generally over in a day, maybe two.

    My twin sister talked me into going to the doctor (I really don’t like going to the doctor for a cold that I’ll get over) because 4 days later and I was still really sick. “GO TO THE DOCTOR DAMMIT YOU HAVE INSURANCE” were her words.

    Glad I did — turns out I needed antibiotics like WOAH!

    Amazing how quick I felt better. :)

  10. Gin & tonic (& Vicodin) cures everything except interventions.

    I hear some people are into soup. I don’t know about that — maybe if it involved some sort of mushrooms?

  11. Skeptically unsound, you say? Hmm, if it is Ebola or Swine Flu the only real solution is to draw some of the offending blood out of your system, put the blood in bag, and then punch the crap out of that bag. Show that blood no mercy! After this is done, simply inject the freshly humbled blood back into your veins and repeat the process. After a few bags of blood have been thus humbled, word will spread throughout your bloodstream that you’re not the kind of person blood wants to mess with if it knows what’s good for it. I can guarantee that if you do this your blood will never give you sass again.

  12. Unsound: You’re sick because your parents used bandaids on you when you were young and the adhesive leached into your Vishuddha Chakra. To remedy this, you’ll need to chelate the toxins using a diet low in refined pepper which, as we all know, contains trace amounts of cadmium and even if it doesn’t it’s still bad and scary. Use only organically-grown, fresh-ground pepper. Your symptoms will miraculously go away in a week or two. Trust me on this. I’m a Chartreuse and that gives me special Daddy Instincts about these things.

  13. I’m a big believer in the placebo effect. Believe you have ebola (therefore your recovery will be extra-amazing) and believe in the immune system mushroom pills from the herbal store will cure it. Take them 8x a day since as we all know the more expensive the mushroom pill, the better it works and the more they want you to take it-twisted but true. I guarantee you’ll feel better in a week give or take another week in case you have that extra virulent strain of ebola. Remember, just believe…mushrooms have nothing on internal organ liquification.

    Yes Virginia, they really do make mushroom pills…

  14. Obviously it is because you were vaccinated as a child.

    If you want to clear your sinuses I have an absolutly surefire, never fail, works 100% of the time, I will eat your underwear if it doesn’t work method. Get someone to pepper spray or mace you in the face. Your sinuses will drain until they are completly empty. I still remember going through the gas chamber when I was getting ready to ship out to Kuwait. No one had any sinus problems after they took their gas mask off. Total drainage. Of course you might have to repeat the treatment on a daily basis until you are fully healed.

    Also, sex cures all ills.

  15. Sound: Ignore it. It’s probably mostly in your head.

    Unsound: Convert to Islam or Judaism. They’re the antidote to anything having to do with swine.

  16. Any kind of hot drink will loosen up your sinuses, but avoid caffeine and sugar. I also tend to eat a lot of fruit before I got to sleep when I have a cold, usually works.
    Because it aligns your chakras, obviously.

  17. Hello, Rebecca.

    Lots of rest. Plenty of fluids. Don’t infect others. Pretty simple stuff, I suppose.

    It seems the mortality of the current swine flu is less than one in a thousand. Still sobering, but a healthy adult should be fine.

  18. What a mistake. I didn’t look closely enough at the gravatar to see this wasn’t written by Rebecca.

    Sorry, realgirl. I’ll pay closer attention.

  19. It turns out this thread is the best medicine. I want to nominate every idea as COTW!

  20. @Joe B:
    Funny, my father offered up a handle of rum to me over the weekend to help me deal with my stress. Worked pretty well… whoever says you can’t drown your problems wasn’t trying hard enough.

  21. Down home, we used to call it a “Hot beef injection” Basically, the best medicine can be found in bed….but not by rest…if you catch my drift.

  22. @infinitemonkey: for the record, that’s an example of unsound advice, but it can be backed up with a kernal of truth…..

    It will release endorphines, which will make you less stressed. Less stress allows your immune system to work better, faster, and stronger.

  23. Do you have catarrh with the ague, or just the catarrh? If it’s with the ague, you may be getting the pleurisy. If it’s just the catarrh and there’s no dropsy, it’s either colicky lung or a general nervous disorder. Now in your case, I’d recommend a nerve tonic. And not just any nerve tonic, but Professor Paxton’s Cockerel and Serpent Revitalizing Nerve Tonic! Now step right up because I just happen to have a case right here . . . .

  24. Run around and scream and yell hysterically. Then absolutely refuse to have anything to do with non-green, chi-destroying, cut-cut-cut Western medicine. Accuse your doctor of getting kick backs from Big Pharm. Spit on him or her if possible. If you live, you had Swine Flu. If you die, then it was ebola.

  25. I’ll second the gin and tonic with a big squeeze of organic healing lime grown in the monastery garden where Mary visited Sister Prudence, healing her persistent case of subluxation frigidity.

  26. Sound: Rest, fluids, some decongestant and/or tylenol to relieve the symptoms a bit.

    Unsound: Iridological acupuncture (that would be the eyeball) since all illness is really caused by your mind and as we know out of sight is out of mind.

  27. More nitric oxide. Completely sound. One of the major protective pathways activated during an infection is the expression of iNOS which causes massively higher NO levels. That NO suppresses bacteria and also viruses by a variety of mechanisms.

    The nasal passages are a normal source of NO. They inject a few hundred ppb NO into the air that you breathe. When you occlude the nasal passages the level can get up to 20 ppm. That NO is important in matching the inhalation of air with the perfusion of blood in the lung. It also (very likely) has important antimicrobial effects.

    A common practice is to irrigate one’s nasal passages with saline.

    I can’t vouch for that, what I do is when I feel the need (which is very rarely) I irrigate my sinuses with a solution that mimics normal human sweat in the wild, where ammonia oxidizing bacteria have converted the ammonia into nitrite. Nitrite is a normal component of saliva, what I use is 20x higher concentration. That is sort of like saline but better because it has nitrite.

  28. Unsound: It’s hysteria, the proper treatment is manual pelvic massage applied to induce paraoxysm.

    Sound: You have angered the gods. The proper way to appease Trebuchet, god of things flung at very high speed, is with a sacrifice by catapult. Find a goat, or a virgin, or a virgin goat (good luck with that, naughty goats), load it in to a catapult, and let fly. The higher, the better, as it makes it easier for the gods to reach down and pluck your offering from the sky (in a spiritual sense only, you should fully expect even an acceptable offering to come to ground sooner or later – aim carefully, and decide which neighbors you like least). Burning your offering is also an option, but it can be awkward to get a burning goat to settle down long enough to load and fire.

  29. It’s called “Con Crud,” and it’s fairly well-known among those of us who frequent sci-fi cons.

    The illness can be described as the sum total result of the following:

    – Sleep deprivation
    – Heatstroke (for our friends in heavy costumes)
    – The disappointing realization that the fun is now over, and the next con is _ months away.
    – Exhaustion
    – The massive hangover that only someone who’s spent 3-4 days constantly drinking can know
    – Allergies to Furries
    – Being crammed in to a small space with hundreds/thousands of geeks with questionable hygienic practices.

    Or it could be a cold.

  30. Wait.

    I wedged myself into a car with you, twice. Got in at LEAST four hugs in a four-hour period, and a peck on the cheek.

    I’d say you’ve come down with a case of excessive manliness.

  31. Traditional tribal treatment for ebola?

    If someone in the village presents symptoms, lock them in their hut for ten days.
    If they emerge, they rejoin the tribe to share their immunity with the herd.
    If they dont emerge, burn their hut down.

  32. Before doing anything else, just in case it is swine flu you should call your local TV news station so they can cue up the medical graphics, the overly-serious stand-up outside the hospital, and the crawl in which the governor advises everybody to remain calm.

  33. Go out in the rain and soak up all that water memory for free!

    That’s how we stick it to “Big Homeo”!

  34. Just remember, if you don’t medicate, a cold lasts 2 weeks. If you do, it only lasts a fortnight.

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