One minute you’re fine. The next your nose is runny, your throat is scratchy and you have nowhere near the amount of energy you usually do. These are all signs you’re coming down with something, but you don’t have to retire to your bed with a box of tissues yet. Nip that cold in the bud with these tips.
Get plenty of sleep.
You’re tired for a reason. Listen to your body and get all the sleep you can. Sleep helps your body fight the infection that’s causing you to feel ill. If you don’t rest now, you’ll have no choice if you end up with a full blown cold.
Watch the stress.
Stress can send a cold into high gear. When you feel a cold coming on, your immune system jumps in to fight viruses and bacteria. Stress suppresses the immune system which makes it easier for you to get sick and harder to fight off bugs.
Stress also pumps your body full of cortisol. Cortisol shuts down “non essential” functions and puts your body into fight-or-flight mode. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. In other words, too much cortisol in your system makes it more likely you will get sick and less likely your body will heal itself.
Fluids are your friend both when you’re sick and when you start to feel a cold coming on. It’s not fun to blow your nose or walk around all day with your head full of gunk. Fluids help thin mucus making it easier to cough and blow it out. Keep a full glass close. Any fluid, other than alcohol, will go toward keeping you hydrated. If you have a fever, fluids are especially important. A fever will drain even more of your body’s fluids through sweat.
Not all fluids are the equal, however. Coffee can increase urination which can lead to dehydration. If you’re trying to stay well hydrated, sipping on your favorite cup of joe could be counterproductive. Coffee is also really acidic which means it may irritate a sore throat.
Another fluid you may want to steer clear from is milk. Drinking milk may make mucus thicker and more irritating than it would normally be. Thick mucus is hard to expel through coughing and blowing your nose. Even worse, if mucus stays stuck in your sinus cavity, it may lead to a sinus infection on top of the cold you already have.
Take a hot shower.
Whether you’re coughing or sneezing, the steam from a hot shower or humidifier will loosen up the congestion in your head and chest. Studies have shown that humid air can be hazardous to the viruses that make us sick.
If you can’t hold off a cold, it will take 5-7 days for symptoms to improve. Start with over the counter medications like antihistamines with decongestants. You can take medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen for aches and pains. (While these over-the-counter-remedies work for most people, always check with your medical provider before taking new medications. Your specific health conditions and current medications may interact with over-the-counter medications.)
If you have a sore throat, gargling salt water will help ease the pain naturally. Not only does salt help reduce inflammation in your throat, but the rinse flushes out bacteria and viruses. Try adding half a tablespoon of table salt to 8 ounces of warm water and gargling it.
You might also try a nasal irrigation system like a neti pot or sinus rinse. Neti pots and irrigators cleanse the nasal passages with a saltwater solution. A daily saline rinse helps sweep bacteria, viruses, and irritants from the respiratory tract. WARNING:Do not use table salt to flush out your sinuses! Use only the saline solution specifically designed for a neti pot.
What about Antibiotics?
You may have noticed we haven’t mentioned antibiotics. Most of the time, the common cold is caused by viruses. In fact, there are over 200 different varieties of viruses can cause the symptoms of a cold, but the most common are rhinoviruses. Simply put, antibiotics cannot kill viruses because viruses have different structures and replicate in a different way than bacteria. Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections such as strep throat and urinary infections. They will not treat viruses, such as colds and the flu.
At EliteCare we know that your family’s needs don’t always fit into standard office hours. If you’re “lucky” enough to get sick on the weekend, you don’t have to wait until Monday to be treated. We stay open on weekends to make sure you and your family are well cared for. If you’re not feeling well, come by and see us on Saturday from 8 AM-12 PM or on Sunday from 1 PM-4 PM.