How to Avoid the Doctor When You Get Sick

How to Avoid the Doctor When You Get Sick : Let’s face it, we all get sick.  Whether from traveling, not getting enough rest, high stress, or just simply being around others who are ill, infections are a part of life.  In fact, upper respiratory infections, known to all of us as colds & flu, are the most common infection on the planet. The average person gets between two and three a year and children get between five and six.

As the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us, the vast majority of these respiratory infections are caused by viruses.  Overall, viruses represent 80% of upper respiratory infections–our sore throats, runny noses, and coughs–are for the most part, viruses.  Treatment options for viruses remain limited because they mutate quickly, making antivirals less than effective.

Unfortunately, antibiotics, which only treat bacterial infections, are commonly misused for viruses.  The misuse of antibiotics has fueled a growing antibiotic resistance crisis, causing antibiotics to be ineffective when they are needed most.  Antibiotic-resistant infections termed “superbug” infections are a growing threat globally.  The more we use them, the more potential that resistance spreads in us, our loved ones, and those around us.

So what should we do when we get upper respiratory infections?

The most important strategy is to focus on optimizing our immune system’s ability to clear the infection. This includes getting adequate rest and hydration. Water can be considered the fuel for our immune system’s healthy function.

There are also all-natural, herbal alternatives that can be used to treat these infections at home without prescription drugs or antibiotics. This community has explored the benefits of herbal medicine before, and one of the most promising benefits is the boost they give the immune system. While there are many popular claims of herbal remedies on drugstore shelves and online today, there are three core ingredients that can make these alternative remedies effective if taken at adequate dosages and forms — and they are all backed by clinical research and data.


Echinacea is a powerful immune booster that can help shorten the duration of a URI. Native to North America, Echinacea has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions. In recent years, it has been revered for its ability to treat the common cold, flu, and other respiratory infections. There have been a number of studies completed on the effectiveness of Echinacea. Most recently, a randomized, controlled clinical trial published in Frontiers of Medicine in April 2023 analyzed the effectiveness of high doses of Echinacea for the treatment of acute respiratory tract infections in adults — 78% of whom were female. Specifically, the study tested new Echinacea formulations at higher cumulative doses compared to conventional formulations, which were already shown to have benefit in decreasing the incidence and duration of the common cold. That study found that high doses of Echinacea reduced recovery time by 1 – 1.4 days when compared to previous formulations. Echinacea is available in a variety of forms, including capsules, tinctures, and teas. To make the tea at home, you can steep 1 teaspoon of Echinacea root in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes before straining and consuming.


Zinc is a trace mineral that’s essential for human health. Supplementation of zinc has been used to boost immune function, promote healing, and aid in overall growth and development. Countless studies have shown zinc to be one of the more effective natural remedies for overcoming respiratory infections such as the common cold. A 2017 meta-analysis of seven randomized trials with 575 participants found that zinc lozenges reduced the length of common colds by an average of 33% — with some trials showcasing a 40% reduction. More recently, an umbrella review was published in February 2022 by Frontiers in Nutrition that examined 43 scientific articles on the effectiveness of zinc for a variety of conditions.  The authors concluded that overall respiratory tract infections were improved from zinc supplementation due to its anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects. While zinc is found naturally in certain foods such as red meat, seafood, legumes, and nuts, if you want to really reap the benefits of treating respiratory infections with zinc, supplementation is still ideal to see noticeable effects while sick. Zinc supplements are available in tablets, capsules, and lozenges.

Vitamin C

I’m sure by now we’ve all heard of the importance of vitamin C in developing a strong immune system. But there’s an increasing amount of evidence that backs up these long-touted claims. A 2022 meta-analysis reviewed ten studies out of the Cochrane, PubMed, and MEDLINE Ovid databases. The analysis included 2758+ participants across 10 different studies and found that the groups that took vitamin C supplementation had considerably shorter durations of respiratory infection than those who received the placebo. Supplementation of vitamin C was also found to lower the occurrence of illness in the first place. While there are many vitamin C supplements on the market, you can also get plenty of vitamin C by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Kiwis, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, tomatoes, papaya, brussel sprouts, and oranges are just a few of the choices you can grab for if you are shopping for whole-food-sourced vitamin C.

What About an All-in-One?

If each of these ingredients have shown merit on their own, what happens when you combine all of them in one pack? A recent study out of Infection & Drug Resistance evaluated the efficacy of EZC Pak, a 5-day immune support pack consisting of a combination of echinacea, zinc, and vitamin C in their most effective doses, in treating upper respiratory infections. In a double-blind, randomized controlled trial, participants that received active EZC Pak recovered 1.39 days faster than the average placebo participant, while also reporting a 17.43% (90% CI 17.1 to 17.8) lower symptom severity score versus the placebo. The goal of the study was to showcase that there are effective alternatives to antibiotic use when it comes to the treatment of upper respiratory infections. It appears that herbal supplements like this can indeed play a key role in treating and managing URI symptoms while steering more patients and doctors away from antibiotic misuse to attempt to treat these illnesses.

Next time you begin feeling a sore throat, cough, or runny nose, don’t run to the doctor’s office for antibiotics.  Consider a more natural and accessible approach as the first step. In the long run, you’ll appreciate it when you actually need them.





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How to Avoid the Doctor When You Get Sick