It’s that time of year again. No, not the holidays–it’s the cold season! Inevitably, many of us will be hit with the coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes brought on by the cold or flu, and while there’s no instant cure (yet!), there are are ways to ease the suffering and get it out of your system faster. Here are 7 tips for beating the common cold, that don’t involve mega doses of NyQuil!
1. Hydrate. We’ve all heard this tip, but many of us ignore it. While it may be a boring suggestion, keeping hydrated is crucial for getting over a cold. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, and not just water either. Hot tea soothes the throat and reduces inflammation in the nasal passages. And while non-vegans swear by chicken noodle soup, miso soup (also known as “Japanese penicillin”) can do the same with its hot, comforting broth. You should also avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee and alcohol, or at the very least cut back.
2. Take a hot shower. The warm steam from the shower is relaxing, promotes sinus drainage, and eases congestion. Alternatively, you could fill a sink with very hot water, and with a towel over your head, inhale the hot steam. A humidifier can also be useful and the added moisture in the air can actually prevent you from getting a cold the next time, as the cold and flu viruses thrive in dry air.
3. Keep the head elevated. If you find yourself mouth breathing thanks to blocked sinuses, add an extra pillow or two under the head to help reduce congestion.
4. Sleep it off. Your immune system is battling hard to rid itself of nasty bacteria and viruses, so let it do its job more effectively by getting plenty of rest. And do you really need another excuse to take a nap?
5. Get your salt. Gargling with salt water can temporarily relieve a scratchy, sore throat; add 1 teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water and gargle up to four times a day. A saline nasal spray whether store bought or homemade can also aid in clearing the nasal passages.
6. Exercise (lightly!). If you have the energy, light exercise can help ease sore, achy muscles. But don’t overdo it– gentle yoga and stretching is all you need. The general rule of thumb is that if you have symptoms above the neck you’re cleared for the gym, but if your symptoms have moved into the chest, stay on the couch.
7. Apply hot or cold packs. Either one can help sinus congestion, so pick whichever feels most comforting. For a cold pack, apply a cool, wet washcloth and drape it over the face. If it’s heat you need, try microwaving some dry rice in a tied off clean sock for a DIY hot pack.
Feeling better yet? Dumplings, what are your tips for getting over the cold or flu fast?
Also see: 7 Reasons to Lay Off Alcohol
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Photo credit: Laura Taylor via Flickr; Marco Arment via Flickr;