The feeling of an oncoming cold can put a damper on your plans, disrupt your workflow, and put a halt to any workout regimen. The common cold affects millions of people in the United States each year, with adults getting colds an average of 2–3 times a year and children being affected even more.
The best way to prevent being knocked out with a bad cold is to recognize and manage your symptoms early on. I’m all about prevention! This requires listening to your body and giving yourself the time and care you need to heal and feel good as new. I know that’s easier said than done under the best of circumstances, but hear me out – I have some tips that might speed up the process.
The minute you feel a tickle in your throat, a runny nose, watery eyes or those body aches and fatigue, take note. Those things that you may notice if you’re paying attention ,the ones that slow you down while you carry out daily tasks, like doing laundry or washing dishes, are signals that your immune system is starting to run down and it’s time to take a break from your typical routine.
My Tips for Stopping a Cold
1. Drink plenty of fluids
Stay hydrated with lots of water, hot tea, or clear broth to help ease a scratchy throat. Extra fluids can relieve congestion and keep your throat and nasal passages moist, which is important if you find yourself constantly blowing your nose, leaving your nose and throat feeling dry and irritated. Better yet, add some lemon or honey to hot water or tea to help coat the throat with detoxifying ingredients that can fight off mucus and relieve pain. Or add in an electrolyte drink that hydrates better than water.
2. Stay inside and stay warm
Viruses and bacteria tend to thrive in cool or damp environments. When sick with a cold, you may experience chills in addition to body aches and fatigue, and you can reverse some of these symptoms by staying inside and taking it easy under a couple of blankets.
Try spending an early night in with a good book and hot tea instead of overexerting yourself by accepting an invitation out. If you can, it’s best to stay warm and indoors for about 24 hours, nipping your cold virus in the bud and giving your body the time to rest and recharge.
3. Get extra rest
Time to relax includes taking time to get ample sleep; you’re going to need all the sleep you can get to fight an oncoming virus. Adults require about 7-9 hours of sleep for a healthy body and mind, which includes strengthening your immune system and helping your body’s natural defense mechanisms fight the bug you caught.
You may find it difficult to sleep well with a runny nose or cough. If this is the case, try propping yourself up with pillows to keep your nasal passages open and allow for easier breathing throughout the night.
4. Rely on Mother Nature
Those initial cold symptoms can often be stopped in their tracks with some immune strengthening supplements and a good dose of good ol’ Mother Nature.
This is my forte, so hear me out!
At that first tickle, my go-to is called ‘Defend and Resist’. You read that right, we need to defend ourselves and resist those bugs!
This supplement has the ability to power up your natural defense system with zinc and herbal ingredients, including echinacea, black elderberry, and larch tree, that have been shown to support healthy immune function. You can chew it, swallow, or use the tablets as tea.
Research has shown that natural remedies can shorten the duration of the common cold and lessen the severity of symptoms. And we’ve all heard that Vitamin C can help boost our immune health.
I’m a big fan of Vitamin C – it’s an antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body and aids in production of interferon, a protein that prevents viruses from multiplying.
And if you didn’t know this, Vitamin C needs to be replenished on a regular basis throughout the day (because guess what – we pee it out…), so, I love a sustained release Vitamin C so that I get a shot of my Vitamin C every few hours over a 12 hour time period, upping my game all day long!
The mineral zinc helps your body fight infections and heal wounds and can stop the common cold virus called rhinovirus from multiplying. Rhinovirus thrives in the nasal passages and throat and causes mucus.
Experts recommend taking 1,000–2,000 milligrams of vitamin C and up to 40 milligrams of zinc to help your immune system get a head start on fighting cold symptoms.
5. Use a humidifier
There’s a reason humidifiers are known to help relieve cold symptoms and sinus issues. By maintaining a 40%-60% level of humidity in your home, you can reduce the survival of viruses in the air and on surfaces. This is why cold symptoms tend to show up when it gets cold and dry outside.
Congestion often starts when you breathe in dry, frigid air, causing inflammation in your airways. The extra moisture in a humidifier can alleviate dry cold symptoms and help your body break down any mucus in your throat and nose. Plus, clear airways can help you sleep soundly and be on your way toward better health!
6. Reduce inflammation and detoxify
Painful congestion or a runny nose can make your insides feel like they need a major cleanse! Try taking a hot shower to not only warm up but also create steam and ease congestion. You can also try placing a towel over your head and then standing over a steaming pot of water with ginger to detoxify your sinuses. Be careful – steam can burn, so be sure to stay at least six inches from the pot.
Excess coughing can leave your insides feeling inflamed, so try gargling with warm salt water to ease the pain and flush out some of the bacteria and toxins that may be stuck in your system.
You’ll also want to avoid eating inflammatory foods, like sugar or dairy, during this time as they can build up mucus and disrupt your healing process. Instead, opt for warm, immune-boosting options, like chicken soup or vegetable stew.
If you find your cold symptoms persisting, the best thing to do is remove stressors from your environment and get the rest and vitamins you need to recover. Stress reduces the number of white blood cells in your immune system, which line up to fight off viruses that enter your body.
In addition to the tips listed above, remember to take part in activities that help you feel relaxed and give you the space to recharge. Set up a comfortable space for yourself, put on your favorite television show, and make a pot of chicken noodle soup. Generally, healthy people will be able to fight off the common cold within 7–10 days (and less by adding in some of these tips and supplements).
Most importantly to me, this is all about prevention. Preventing illness means making health-focused choices and practicing good hygiene when you’re feeling your best, too. This covers simple things, like practicing good hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. It also relates to healthy lifestyle choices, like eating a nutrient-dense diet and keeping a balance between regular movement and ample rest. And an intentional and healthy mindset can help your body prepare to fight off toxins and viruses that find their way into your life.
Stay safe this winter and I’d love to hear some of your tips!