Having a cold is one of the worst feelings. Not only may you struggle to sleep at night due to congestion, but you may also have a cough that makes breathing difficult while trying to accomplish small tasks. Colds come with a host of symptoms ranging from coughing and sneezing to severe fatigue. Being sick can also exacerbate pre-existing health conditions. Luckily, there are some ways you can take care of yourself when you’re sick. Here are our favorite home remedies for a cold.
Understanding When You Don’t Need Treatment
The symptoms you experience from a cold, including congestion and fever, are your body’s natural methods for fighting off infection and illness. A fever heats your body to kill viruses, while a cough keeps phlegm from clogging up your airways. If you have a moderate fever, it’s sometimes best not to treat it because letting your body heat up can help kill viruses and help you feel better faster. But, of course, if you have a high fever, go to the doctor immediately because high fevers can lead to brain damage and indicate a severe illness that needs treatment.
Ultimately, every symptom, even your stuffy nose, has a purpose. Dealing with mild cold symptoms may help you fight your illness faster to return to your daily life. In addition, decongestants can restrict blood flow to your nose and throat, preventing the infected area from carrying germs out of your body. So even though you might feel uncomfortable, it might actually help to do nothing.
Blow Your Nose
When you’re sick, you may feel the need to blow your nose often. Blowing your nose when you have a cold rather than sniffing your mucus back in helps your body remove toxins through your nose. Unfortunately, many people blow their noses incorrectly. Blowing your nose too hard can carry germs into your ear, which can cause unnecessary pressure and pain in your ears. When you need to blow your nose, put one finger over your nostril and blow gently to clear them one at a time.
Use Warm Salt Water
Warm salt water helps break up mucus and can soothe sore throats. Mixing equal parts warm, distilled water with salt and using a nasal irrigation kit or syringe, squirt water into your nose one nostril at a time and let it drain from the other nostril. This will clear out your nasal passages, allowing you to breathe better and removing any virus particles trapped in your nose.
If you have a sore throat, you can kill bacteria and help soothe your pain by gargling with warm salt water, too.
When you have a cold, you should try to get as much rest as possible, which means sleeping a lot and maybe even taking daytime naps. Your body repairs itself as you sleep, so the best way to get healthy faster is to get tons of sleep. If you’re feeling tired when sick, your body is telling you to rest, so always listen to it.
Drink Hot Tea
Drinking hot tea can help relieve congestion and soothe inflammation in the nose and throat. It can also keep you hydrated while your body naturally flushes out the virus. Herbal tea and green tea are known for their medicinal properties, so drinking tea may help provide your body with the boost it needs to heal itself faster. Of course, limit yourself to drinking only a few cups of tea a day, especially if it’s caffeinated.
Take a Shower
Showers can help moisturize dry nasal passages and prevent aches and pains that come with having a fever. If you have a cold, try taking a hot shower to help you feel better. However, be careful. If you’re so sick you can’t stand up on your own for too long, a hot shower may make you feel dizzier or weaker. In that case, you can sit outside of the shower to get the benefits of steam or take a nice hot bath to help your body relax.
Sleep With an Extra Pillow
Keeping your head elevated can help relieve congestion allowing you to get a better sleep when you’re sick. Unfortunately, many people find sleeping with an additional pillow under them uncomfortable. Instead of sleeping with another pillow, you can keep your head elevated when you’re awake during the day.
Eat Healthy Foods
When you’re sick, it’s tempting to eat anything you want because you don’t feel well. However, maintaining a healthy diet when you’re sick is important in the recovery process. For example, foods containing vitamin C like oranges can help your body fight infection, while chili peppers can open sinuses.
You may not want to eat as much as you normally would when you have a cold. Even though colds typically affect the respiratory system, many people experience stomach issues, such as nausea and diarrhea when they have a cold. Others may have a lack of appetite. While it’s important to eat while you’re resting, you should also consider vitamin supplements to ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. You can take individual supplements or a multivitamin, depending on your needs. However, when you’re sick, it’s best to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins C and D to boost your immune system.
Doctors always recommend drinking plenty of water when you have a cold, and for a good reason. Staying hydrated improves blood circulation to help your blood cells fight off viruses and infections. While water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated, you can also drink juice or broth to soothe your throat. You can also add lemon and honey to warm water for a healthier drink.
Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine can help you feel more comfortable while your body fights off infection. As we mentioned, sometimes it’s best not to treat the symptoms. However, sometimes the symptoms can prevent you from getting the sleep you need for your body to heal. OTC medicines can improve your sleep quality and make you feel better, but remember, they only treat the symptoms, not the underlying cold virus.
Most people can fight the common cold at home with rest, water, and OTC medicines. However, if your fever gets too high, you should go to an urgent care center immediately because you may be suffering from something worse than a cold. Colds share symptoms with other illnesses like the flu, allergies, and asthma. Going to the doctor can help you determine what’s causing your illness and how you can treat it to help you get back on your feet sooner.
Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she shares knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, or financial tips. During her free time she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.