FIGHTING THE COMMON COLD

‘Tis the season to be sniveling, fa la la la laa, la la la la…

It’s suddenly turned colder. Very suddenly actually, meaning that our bodies will have to get acclimatised to the new temperatures and wet weather pretty quickly. Many of us, myself included, can never seem to survive this yearly period of temperature-transformation without succumbing to at least one case of flu. Our nose gets blocked, our throat is ticklish, we sneeze, we shiver, we sniffle into one tissue after another, hoping to spy some narrow ray of light leading out from the darkness of those long, uncomfortable nights. Because although we may ingest one decongestant and flu tablet after another, everyone knows there isn’t any one particular remedy for the common cold.

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There are ways to prevent and mitigate its symptoms, though.

First and foremost, it’s important to stay hydrated. During the colder months, it may seem like there’s more moisture in the air. This belies the fact that conversely, our skin gets drier, not to mention that when we’re weak and sick, we still need to ingest a lot of fluids to get well. Water, warm soups and especially orange juice – with its Vitamin C and high calcium intake – go a long way in preventing colds and fevers.

If, on the other hand, you’re already feeling the introductory itching of a sore throat, take care to keep this warm by drinking warm fluids in particular, like warm water with freshly squeezed lemons or honey, or chamomile tea. If the issue progresses further, gargling warm water and salt or taking medicated lozenges to soothe away the problem will go a long way towards recovery.

Boiling water with a spoonful of sea salt can also be a good cure for a blocked nose. Don’t ingest it though! Just put a dishcloth or towel over your head, stoop over the bowl of water and salt, and inhale the fumes. This should clear your nose, apart from giving you a mini sauna, which is beneficial to your facial pores. If this doesn’t work, you can always turn to pharmaceutical products against nasal congestion. Blow your nose well and often, as this will help to clear out any obstruction. Your cough will also get worse if you can’t breathe through your nose, as you end up gasping air through your throat instead, which contributes in making this drier.

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During periods when our bodies are so very weak and vulnerable, rest is also very important. Try sleeping for ten hours instead of the usual eight. Afternoon naps are also very beneficial, especially if you’re taking antibiotics or some sort of over-the-counter medication. Make sure to sleep with an extra pillow under your head, in order to aid respiration. Also be sure not to take your medication on an empty stomach. Stick to a nourishing diet to aid your body in digesting pills.

On another note, don’t feel shy about using dehumidifiers in winter. Dehumidifiers reduce moisture levels in the air, making your home less hospitable to allergens such as dust mites, mold, and mildew. This may also help to loosen nasal congestion. Just remember to change the water daily, and clean the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Taking long hot showers and washing your hands often is beneficial both for you and for those who live at home with you. Hot showers can be very relaxing, and the warm water may also loosen up your nasal congestion, as well as calming your body. Washing your hands of course aids in preventing other family members from catching the flu from you.

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Ultimately, most colds just need to run their course. The important thing is to try and limit both the direct and the indirect damage they might do, as well as prevent others from catching them too.