Winter is in full swing which means you may be more susceptible to the common cold. This is because the weather gets colder and we spent more time indoors sharing germs with others. Around this time of year, especially with the holidays, we don't have the time to get sick. If you feel a sore throat coming on and think you may be getting sick, take these 8 steps to fast-forward to recovery.
1 - Consider Your Symptoms
Take a minute and jot down symptoms you have experienced. A cold virus may leave you with a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, and mild fatigue. On the other hand, a flu will come with a hacking cough, high fever, and severe body aches, and chills.
You can probably ride out a common cold on your own unless you're in a high-risk group, that being children, seniors, and others with weakened immune systems. If you think you may have the flu, you may need to see a doctor. It's important to evaluate your symptoms early so that you can seek the necessary treatment as soon as possible.
2 - Drink A Lot of Water
Many people get dehydrated while they're sick because they may be running a fever, producing mucus, or not drinking enough water because of a sore throat. It's crucial to drink water while you're not feeling well and can actually help you to recover quicker.
If you have a sore throat and would prefer something warm, try having a cup of tea. “Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration,” according to Mayo Clinic. Avoid drinking any alcoholic or caffeinated beverages as these cause dehydration.
3 - Rest Up
This can be difficult when you have a full-time job or a very busy schedule. Many of us try to power through a cold so that we don't get behind on everything that's going on. Doing this can often worsen your symptoms and prolong your sickness. Taking a day off and staying in bed could be the difference between feeling unwell for one day and a week-long bedridden snot fest.
4 - Kick Congestion To The Curb
No one likes having a stuffy nose. Although we can breathe through our mouths when we're congested, we typically are more comfortable breathing through our nose. Mayo Clinic recommends nasal drops or sprays to get rid of a stuffy nose.
If you don't try to clear up your congestion, it could get worse and cause an infection that you would need antibiotics for. Drinking hot tea or soup broth could help clear up your congestion and break down the mucus.
5 - Eat Something
Many times people stop eating when they feel unwell, however, that's the opposite of what you should do. Harvard Medical School recommends that you eat healthy foods while you're ill, even if you don't have much of an appetite. Your body requires nutrients from food to help you recover.
6 - Protip: Buy A Humidifier
Cold and flu viruses thrive on colder weather and low humidity. Be proactive and use a humidifier in the winter. Even if you're already starting to feel unwell, Mayo Clinic suggests plugging in a humidifier to help loosen congestion and help your nasal passages fight inflection.
To see the best results, make sure to change the water daily and follow the instructions included with your humidifier.
7 - Home Remedies
Aside from using a humidifier and drinking warm liquids, there are other natural remedies that you can try to improve your health. Mayo Clinic recommends gargling with saltwater — “1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water” — to soothe a sore throat. Some other home remedies include zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea. While studies of their effectiveness have shown mixed results, many people swear by these remedies.
8 - Just Relax
This seems like a given, however, many people struggle to take it down a notch, especially during holiday preparation. All you need to do is stay home and try to avoid stress. Easier said than done, right? You'll have a better chance of fighting off the infection by staying home. Not only will it keep you from spreading germs, but you'll also keep yourself protected from other germs that could worsen your symptoms.
"For colds, you are contagious the entire time you have symptoms, but you are most contagious right after you contract the viral infection before you even have symptoms. For the flu, adults are most infectious from the day before symptoms start until about the fifth day of symptoms," according to Harvard Medical School.
If you find something is being passed around at work, start taking preventative measures before you too get sick. Make sure to wash your hands often. Practice good hygiene and stop the spread of germs by always covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Remember, if you're starting to feel sick, take a break from the chaos, kick back, and relax.