There’s no way around it. Getting a cold sucks. And as far as we know, there’s no cure for it. Even the over the counter medicines don’t really seem to do very much to help.
The question is, even though meds seem to fail us and we have to let it run its course, is there anything we can do to ease the symptoms of a cold? Here are 10 steps you can take to make that cold suck just a little bit less.
- Drink lots of water. The more fluids you drink, the thinner the built up mucus will become (to a point, of course). It’s essential that you break up that congestion so you can breathe more easily. Not to mention that it’s very important that you stay hydrated during your bout with the common cold.
- You need to keep those nasal passages clear. But blowing your nose isn’t necessarily the best way to do so for a couple of reasons. First of all, when you blow your nose, repeatedly, you tend to rub your nose raw (I’ll address that a little later). Bu ton top of that, the stopped up feeling you have probably isn’t all because of mucus. Your sinuses may actually be inflamed and all the blowing in the world isn’t going to fix that. However, a sinus rinse might. By irrigating your nose with a saline solution, you can calm the swollen sinuses and get those passages clearer than you ever thought possible.
- Stay in bed longer than normal. How long do you normally sleep? If you’re like most people, it’s probably somewhere between 6 to 8 hours a night, assuming you’re fairly healthy. Well, if you have a cold, your body needs more downtime to recuperate. So instead of staying up for the Late Show, you might want to turn in early and get a few extra hours of shut eye.
- Use peppermint oil. Few things clear the sinuses like a whiff of peppermint. So get yourself a bottle of the oil from your local health food store. Depending on your symptoms, you can use the oil in a few different ways. For example, if your cold has brought on a fever, you can rub a few drops on your feet to help cut the fever. If you have a headache, you can rub a drop or two on your temples. Stopped up? Put a drop on your tongue and inhale deeply.
- Prop up your head in bed. Ever noticed that your cold is worse in the morning? You wake up and your head feels like it’s completely clogged with mucus? Or maybe you can’t even sleep through the night because you feel like you’re getting choked? That’s likely because all that mucus is settling back in your nasal cavity while you’re lying down. You can cut down on this by using a few extra pillows and sleeping propped up. Or you could even try sleeping in a recliner.
- Make use of a vaporizer. A good vaporizer will emit vapors that will help you breathe easier. You can fill it with herbs like mint or eucalyptus, turn it on, and the vaporizer will heat them up, filling your room with the soothing vapors. The eucalyptus will help loosen the mucus and the mint can ease the sore throat. Click here to get more information on herbal vaporizers.
- Try a hot toddy. What do you get when you mix honey, lemon, tea, and bourbon? Well, if you ingest too much of it, you’ll get intoxicated. But taken in small doses, the Hot Toddy can help make a cold a bit more bearable. With origins dating back to the 1700s, there’s got to be something to the tradition, right?
- Chicken soup (with rice?). Other than being a famous book by author/illustrator Maurice Sendak, chicken soup with rice (or without) has quite a longstanding reputation for helping out with the common cold. But does it really help out? Well, this article on the New York Times website seems to suggest so. While science can’t seem to pinpoint the exact reason, some believe you’re better off choosing chicken soup over most cold medicines.
- Use soft tissues and put petroleum jelly on your nose. Remember how I said blowing your nose over and over will shred the skin and make you miserable? Well, you can cut down on the chances in two ways. First, you need to get a soft tissue that’s gentle on your skin. Secondly, after blowing your nose, try rubbing petroleum jelly around it to soothe the burn. Don’t go overboard though or you might accidentally inhale it.
- Exercise. You might think twice about working out when you have a cold. After all, you’re head feels like it weighs a million pounds and your sinuses are probably clogged. Breathing heavily doesn’t exactly sound fun, does it? However, there are plenty of people that argue that working out during your bout with the common cold can actually make you feel better. While there is little hard data to support these claims, there are a couple of older studies discussed in the NY Times. According to a study by Leonard Kaminsky at Ball State University, a normal cold doesn’t actually hurt your lung function. If anything, it may help open up those sinuses and get the heart pumping, increasing your metabolism.