Prevention is the best defense against a cold, but sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still get sick. That is because the cold virus can live up to 18 hours on unwashed surfaces while it looks for a host. The cold enters through your mouth, nose, or eyes and is thus commonly spread through talking, coughing, and sneezing. While you might not be able to completely cure your cold, there are some things you can do to alleviate your symptoms and speed up your recovery, including washing your hands as frequently as possible.
[Edit]Taking Immediate Action
Gargle with salt water if you have a sore throat. Gargling with salt water can help reduce inflammation in your throat and flush out mucus. To gargle salt water, stir of salt into a glass of warm water and gargle some of it for 30 seconds. Then, spit it out, making an effort to swallow as little as possible.
Repeat this throughout the day whenever your throat is hurting.
Take a hot shower to help with nasal congestion. Feeling stuffy and congested can make a cold feel a lot worse. To get rid of that stuffy feeling, hop in the shower and stay in there for longer than usual so some steam has time to build up. The steam from the shower should help temporarily alleviate your congestion.
Use a saline nasal spray if you’re still feeling stuffy. Saline nasal sprays are saltwater sprays that you flush your nose with to decongest it. Use the saline nasal spray to prevent mucus from building up and clogging your nose. It will also provide an instant feeling of relief.
Keep using the nasal spray every day until you feel better.
Turn on a humidifier to keep the air around you moist. Moisture in the air can help loosen the mucus in your nose and throat so you don’t feel as congested. Put a humidifier in your bedroom so the air is moist while you sleep, and keep one in other rooms you’ll be spending a lot of time in.
Be sure to change the humidifier filter frequently, as unclean filters can lead to additional breathing and lung problems. Look at your specific humidifier’s instruction manual to get an idea of how often the filter should be changed.[Edit]Helping Your Body Recover Quickly
Drink 8 glasses of water every day to stay hydrated. Dehydration can make a cold even worse, so it’s important that you drink 8 glasses of water every day. Drinking more fluids will also help loosen mucus in your nose and throat so you feel less congested.
Don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or caffeinated soda or you could become more dehydrated.
Eat 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to help your immune system. If you’re not getting the nutrients your body needs to be healthy, you’ll have a harder time fighting off a cold. Eating more fruits and vegetables is an easy way to get the nutrients your immune system needs to function.
Try eating a salad with a couple servings of fruit every day.
Some studies suggest that garlic and citrus fruits can shorten the length of a cold and make it less severe.
Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Your body is hard at work fighting off infection when you’re asleep, so it’s important that you rest as much as possible so it can fight your cold. Try to go to sleep earlier than usual and take a nap during the day if you can. The more rest you get, the better your chances will be of a speedy recovery.
Take off school or work if possible. Getting lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids can be tough if you’re at school or work all day. If you’re able to, stay home so you can focus on recovering so your cold doesn’t get worse.
If you decide to take the day off from work, reach out to your boss over the phone or by email as soon as possible. Let them know you’re too sick to come in and apologize for the inconvenience.
If your boss seems hesitant about letting you take the day off, ask if you can work from home for the day instead.[Edit]Taking Medicine and Supplements
Take acetaminophen or an NSAID if you have a sore throat, headache, or fever. Acetaminophen and NSAIDs are both pain relievers that can help relieve the symptoms of your cold. Follow the dosage instructions on the packaging and don’t take more than the 24 hour dosage limit.
While acetaminophen and NSAIDs won’t stop your cold, they can make it more manageable while you focus on recovering.
Common NSAIDs you can take are ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.
Both DayQuil and NyQuil contain acetaminophen.
Try an antihistamine or decongestant to help with coughing and congestion. Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants can help clear up your throat and nose and alleviate your coughing. Always read the packaging for usage instructions and avoid mixing multiple medications or you could overdose.
Never give antihistamines or decongestants to children under 5.
Exercise caution before taking over-the-counter cold medicine if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, or kidney issues. Always read the labels first, and consult your doctor before starting any new medicine.
Give vitamin C or echinacea supplements a try to shorten your cold. While the evidence is unclear, some studies suggest that vitamin C and echinacea can help lessen the severity of a cold. Since these supplements aren’t harmful, you may want to give them a try and see if they help stop or shorten your cold.
Powdered vitamin C supplements like Emergen-C may also help shorten the duration of your cold.
Read about potential interactions and side effects as printed on the label of the supplement before you start taking it. If you have any pre-exisiting medical conditions, talk to your doctor before starting a new vitamin or herbal treatment.[Edit]Tips
Adults usually get a cold 2-3 times a year, while children will generally get colds 7-10 times a year.[Edit]References
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