Cold season is upon us and it’s almost inevitable that we’ll all spend at least a few days down for the count. While it’s impossible to 100% avoid catching a cold no matter how much hand sanitizer you use or Emergen-C you drink, there are ways you can lessen and shorten your bout of rhinovirus.
- Get some meds: The first and most important thing you can do as soon as you feel your nose getting stuffy and your sinuses getting blocked is get a decongestant and start taking it. Most OTC cold medicines treat symptoms like cough, fever, or headache, without treating congestion, which can leave you stuffy and wondering why it’s not going away. To get something that will work, you’ll most likely need to go up to the pharmacy counter and hand over some form of state or national ID. Medicines containing pseudoephedrine, either marketed as Sudafed or your regular cold or allergy medicine “+D” will help clear everything out and most importantly help keep a common cold from turning into a sinus infection.
- Push fluids: The more natural, the better. On a normal day you should be drinking half the number of pounds you weigh in ounces, so when you’re sick it’s better to try to get a little more than that. Ditch the throat sprays and cough drops for a soothing cup of hot water with lemon and honey. Try to avoid drinks like Gatorade unless you’re not eating, because these contain a lot of sodium, which will actually dehydrate you.
- Not all chicken soup is created equal: Yes, the old saying goes that chicken soup or “Jewish Penicillin” will cure anything, but the old saying goes with the old recipe. A lot of canned soups, or worse, ramen soups are loaded with sodium and preservatives that will leave you feeling bloated and dehydrated. Try to find a natural, low sodium option or a nice friend who will make you some soup from scratch. Better yet, try a smoothie with high vitamin fruits, kale, and some greek yogurt until you’re feeling better. This will boost your immune system and fill you up without weighing you down.
- Shower and change your clothes everyday: When you’re sick it’s easy to lay in bed in the same sweats and not wash your hair for three days in a row, but that’s not going to make you feel any better. Trying to stick to your normal hygiene routine will help you feel better faster because it eliminates a lot of the “blah” factor of being sick. Straightening your sheets a few times throughout the day and taking your tea cups to the kitchen from your bedside table will also help eliminate that “I just feel so gross” feeling.
Bonus: Put a few drops of Eucalyptus oil in your shower and it will help open everything up the same way that Vicks VapoRub does.
- Don’t push yourself: That workout will be there tomorrow or even in three days, your professors and boss will understand. Try to get as much rest as possible and then as you start feeling better ease yourself back into being active. Try setting an alarm and walking around your apartment for five to ten minutes every hour. It’s important not to throw yourself back into a full day of classes straight from laying in bed for four days straight.
- Know what’s up: With or without our tips, if you aren’t starting to feel any better after about three days or if your throat feels like you swallowed broken glass, it’s probably time for a trip to the doctor. There’s nothing worse than getting sick, but waiting too long to go to the doctor and having it get serious to the point where it could mess up your grades for an entire semester.