We’ve all had colds in our lives and we all know how lousy they can make you feel. First, you notice the sore throat. Then the sneezing starts, followed by coughing. Next thing you know, you have a full-fledged cold and can’t even breathe through your nose. You just want it to go away, but so far everything over-the-counter that you’ve tried hasn’t helped – and probably won’t. Why? Because there’s no actual cure for the common cold, and no medication out there on the market that can completely make your symptoms magically disappear. In other words, you’re stuck with it and just have to let nature take its course. That being said, aside from medications, there are certain natural remedies that can at least provide you with temporary relief. While it might not be what you’re looking for, sometimes even the tiniest reprieve can have you feeling more like yourself again.
The most important thing you need to do when you’re sick is rest, suggests Dr. Ghahary. When you’re sick your body workers harder to fight off the viral infection, therefore requiring more energy. Without proper rest, your body won’t have enough energy to fight off the cold and your symptoms will either worsen, or you’ll develop back-to-back colds or get colds more frequently than you normally would. Now you’re probably thinking it’s impossible to sleep at night because that’s when you feel worse…and there’s a reason for that. There’s less cortisol in your blood at night, and the less cortisol there is the more your blood cells work to fight off that bug, which then causes your symptoms to come to the surface, such as nasal congestion. If this is a problem you experience when you’re sick, try propping yourself up a bit higher by using an extra pillow. This will ease the pressure in your sinuses and help you be able to breathe better. Using a menthol rub at night can also help you get a better sleep and improve your breathing somewhat.
Something you might not associate with relieving colds is exercise. However, studies have shown that those who exercise regularly (including while they’re sick) actually have as many as 30% less colds than those who exercised infrequently. So, as horrible as you might feel, lace up those running shoes and go for a walk. If you’re feeling too lousy to step outside, you can also exercise in the comfort of your own home. As long as you’re doing something; just make sure you don’t overexert yourself. If you’ve developed a cough along with your cold, then exercise is something you may want to put a pause on until you’re feeling better.
When we’re sick, we tend to become dehydrated, so water and other clear fluids (such as tea) is something you should make sure to drink plenty of when you’re under the weather. It things mucus, breaks up nasal congestion, as well as prevents fatigue and headaches. Things like caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages should all be avoided when you’re sick as those can have the opposite effects. If you’re unwell to the point where you feel like you don’t even want to get out of bed, then make sure you have a bottle of water close by that you can pick up and sip on every now and then, just to make sure you’re at least getting some H20 intake.
If you can’t seem to shake your cough, lozenges can provide relief, but an even better remedy to try is honey. Swallowing just one teaspoon of honey or mixing it into a cup of tea or hot water with lemon can provide almost instant relief. Honey works by coasting your throat, which then soothes the cough; and, when It’s is at bay, you’ll get more of a sound sleep and won’t keep yourself (and potentially others) awake due to constant coughing.
Zinc is something that’s highly recommended in those with weakened immune systems as well as those with colds. Zinc can prevent a cold and its symptoms from multiplying. However, the trick in order to make this work is that you need to take it within 24 hours of first noticing your symptoms or it won’t have any benefit. It’s also important to take zinc (which comes in lozenges or in multivitamins, even) throughout the duration of your cold. While your cold might not go away, it may in fact decrease the length of a cold by as much as one day, and help to prevent colds in the future.