One day, you wake up with a sore throat, followed by coughing, sneezing, and sniffling. Your body temperature is climbing high, and you feel an extreme pain in the joints. You are sick.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick cure for the common cold or the flu. However, there are several ways you can do to relieve the illness faster.
Take a long rest.
When you’re sick, your body works hard to fight off that infection. It needs more energy than usual. Skimping on sleep makes your immune system weak, making it harder to fight germs. Make rest your top priority. Head to bed early and take naps during the day. Stay home from work or school and put your daily routine on hold until you feel better.
Drink up. Drinking water is incredibly good for you. Getting plenty of fluids thins your mucus and breaks up congestion. It also prevents the headaches and fatigue that dehydration causes. Skip caffeinated sodas, coffee, and alcohol, which can dry you out.
Gargle with salt water.
It’s a good way to soothe a sore throat. Several studies have found that gargling several times a day with warm saltwater can reduce swelling in the throat and loosen mucus, helping to flush out irritants or bacteria. Stir one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water until it’s dissolved and gargle a few times a day.
Sip a hot beverage. It’s comforting to curl up with a mug of tea. Plus, research shows that the heat can also ease cold symptoms such as sore throat and fatigue. Try sipping non-caffeinated herbal tea, lemon water, or warm broth.
Have a spoonful of honey. This sticky stuff can coat your throat and soothe a cough. In one study, kids who ate about half a tablespoon of honey at bedtime slept more soundly and coughed less than those who got a placebo medicine. Stir it into a cup of decaf tea or lemon water. One warning: Don’t give honey to babies younger than 1 year old.
Take a hot shower. Breathing in steam may moisten a scratchy throat and nose, as well as loosen your congestion. The heat can also help relax any aching muscles.
Take an over-the-counter remedy. You may find relief with one of these medications.
- Pain reliever for fever and aches. Doctors usually recommend acetaminophen. If you’re taking another cold medicine, though, check that it doesn’t already have the drug. It’s a common ingredient in many OTC remedies, but getting too much can be dangerous. So, check the label and ask the pharmacist how much is safe to take at one time.
- Lozenges for a sore throat. They have herbs and other ingredients that can soothe the stinging.
- Decongestant for stuffiness. This medicine shrinks blood vessels in your nose, so your airways can open up. But the liquid or pill form may make you feel jittery. Using decongestant sprays and drops too much can cause more congestion, so don’t use them for more than 3 days.
- Expectorant to thin mucus. It can help loosen some of that thick discharge.
- Antihistamine to dry up a runny nose. This drug blocks the chemical in your body that causes sneezes and sniffling.
Taking a decongestant and an antihistamine together may be more helpful than taking either one alone.
Use a saline spray or flush. Over-the-counter saltwater sprays make your nostrils moist, which makes it easier to blow your nose. You may also want to try nasal irrigation. That’s when you gently pour a saline solution into one nostril and let it flow out of the other. It washes away dried mucus, so you can breathe easier. You can buy sinus rinses or use a bulb syringe. If you do it yourself, always make the saltwater solution with distilled or cooled, boiled water.
Eat chicken soup. Mom was right: This sick-day staple really can make you feel better. Research shows that chicken soup can calm inflammation in your body. This may ease some of your symptoms, such as aches and stuffiness. What’s more, this meal also has liquid and calories to give your body energy!
Keep things clean. Cleanliness will help keep the virus under control and help prevent that cold from spreading. Make sure to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and at work and be especially mindful to do so during cold and flu season, or whenever someone around you is sick.
The best plan for a cold is simply to wait it out. Your symptoms should be better in a week to ten days. If two weeks go by and you’re still sick, seek medical advice.