Why can’t we come up with a cure for the common cold?
I’ve been thinking about the common cold lately because yours truly has caught one and is feeling pretty crappy and crabby at the moment (be forewarned–I’m freeing myself of responsibility for any grouchy outbursts that may appear in this post). Doctors and scientists have made excellent progress over the years with cures for polio, malaria, and tetanus, among other illnesses, but the simple common cold continues to elude experts.
Who hasn’t had a cold at one time or another? Many of us have at least 1 to 3 or more colds a year (and if you’re among the lucky few who haven’t had a cold in the past 12 months, don’t talk to me). The symptoms are usually the same: runny nose, headache, body aches, low fever, slight fatigue, etc., etc. Normally nothing serious, but enough to make you feel like you’re having a very non-meditative experience–you are so not into your body and the last things you want to focus on are the moment and your breathing, which can cause your nose to function like a leaky faucet the moment you switch from breathing through your mouth to breathing through your nostrils.
Okay, I’m familiar with the argument that doctors and scientists haven’t been able to find a cure for the common cold because there are just too many viruses that cause it (around 250 altogether). Personally, I don’t buy that. They were able to come up with a flu vaccine, weren’t they? And there are many strains of influenza, so many that the flu shot covers only a limited number of strains each year. If you’re exposed to the strain that wasn’t in your shot, bingo–you’re still gonna get the flu.
So, what are we supposed to do about the common cold? In order to prevent getting it, wash your hands often and avoid touching your face (I did those things, and apparently they didn’t work). I’ll add some other suggestions: don’t share computer keyboards, don’t breathe the same air other people breathe, and wear face masks and rubber gloves to scare everyone who already has the cold from getting anywhere near you with his or her germs. Should you be among the chosen ones, like me, who have caught the cold, suffer through it and swear those doctors and scientists up and down for not giving sufficient attention to this medical injustice against humanity. Why should the common cold be any less worthy of study and treatment than other maladies?