You know the signs. If you feel a tickle in your throat, have a thick head and your body aches, chances are you’re coming down with something. An adult gets on average three colds per year, each lasting around nine days. But you don’t have to surrender. Here’s how to stop a cold before it takes hold or at least shortens its duration.
As soon as you feel symptoms:
Gargle with salt water – To combat a scratchy throat add half a teaspoon of salt to half a cup of warm water. The salt draws out excess water in your throat tissues, reduces inflammation, and clears mucous and irritants from the back of the throat. It also flushes out bacteria and viruses, which may help whether you’re getting a cold or want to prevent one in the first place.
Rest is best – by far the most effective remedy is rest. The body signals its need for rest by being tired. We have all experienced the fatigue of a common cold and the wish to rest. If only we would listen!
Skip work if you can – Your body can fight off the virus better if you’re well-rested. But if you have to go in, just steer clear of co-workers as best you can – the first few days of a cold is when you’re most contagious. To prevent sharing your germs, wash your hands regularly.
Eat right – When one is well, a balanced diet with a lot of veggies and fruit will reduce the chance for catching a cold. If you do get a cold, listen to your stomach. Soups (including chicken soup), liquids, stewed apples with cinnamon and other gentle foods are best. A healthy diet can help fuel the immune system.
Eat light and little – Only eat when you are hungry. The body needs all its energy to fight the germs and doesn’t want to use a lot of energy for digesting foods.
De-stress – The kind of stress that wears you down also lowers your resistance to illness. If you are stressed you are more likely to catch a cold, and stress may mean it hangs on for longer. Finding a healthy way to cope with chronic stress can increase your immunity and help you fight off all kind of illnesses. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or mindfulness are worth a try. You will find more info on my yoga classes here and here.
Keep your nose clean – Using a saline nasal spray right after cold symptoms first appear may reduce their impact, studies suggest. The same principals apply as for the salt gargle. It reduces inflammation, reduces bacteria etc.
Try Zinc – Zinc capsules or tablets help boost the immune system and can help to shorten the duration of the common cold by up to 40 percent, according to a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal. More info on zinc here.
Other remedies that help:
– Honey – Have one to two tablespoons of honey straight from the jar or stirred into tea. Use a good quality, ideally locally produced honey. We are lucky to have the great manuka honey here in New Zealand.
– Vitamin C
– Colloidal silver
– Viral tonic like Viral-ex (Good Health Company)
– Olbas oil for steam inhalations. There is more info here.
One last tip: Don’t fly unless necessary. If you have to fly, use a nasal decongestant spray regularly.
If you feel worse, start vomiting or have a fever call your doctor – these are signs you have got something other than the common cold and you may need some medication or further treatment.
Get well soon.
If you find this post helpful or if you have some ideas, I would love to hear from you.