The common cold is a very common viral illness which can strike at any time, but is more common during the winters. Like any other contagious viral disease, prevention is far better than cure. And though the symptoms of the cold are not too painful or debilitating, they can be quite a nuisance. Here we take a look at how to prevent catching the common cold, and how to ease the symptoms.
Strategies to preventing the common cold
Improved circulation causes the air to keep moving and reduces the chances of the airborne viral microorganisms to settle down and be picked up by you. So, try to have some fresh air in, and allow movement of the air.
Some probiotics, including those found in yogurt, can help keep colds away. Naturally fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and kimchi have been proven to reduce the chances of respiratory illnesses.
Cover your face
While you may think it rude to turn away and cover your face when someone sneezes near you, it is the right thing for your health and well-being. Try to stay away from people with colds, and try to protect yourself as far as possible in a crowded place. Also, in the name of health, sneeze into your sleeve or in your shirt if you can, to prevent transferring the disease.
When you have a cold, the body produces an increased amount of mucus to trap the microorganisms. However, this very mucus can cause discomfort and irritation. Staying hydrated (water is best) can help thin out the mucus that your body makes when you get sick. When that germ-laden mucus is thinner, it’s much easier to be flushed out your system.
Wash your hands
Germs are transferred through droplets from the infected persons’ mouth and nose. Touching any surface covered with those droplets can help introduce the germs into your system. Try to avoid touching utensils or surfaces touched by a person who has the cold. Washing hands with soap and water will also remove any germs that may be on your palms and fingers.
Strategies for relieving symptoms
Get lots of sleep
The body is optimized to perform several tasks when sleeping – grow, repair, fight infection, and a few neural functions. If you get more sleep, your immune system will function better. Research has proved that sleep deprivation makes humans (and animals) more vulnerable to infection. Besides, you will feel much better after having had a good sleep.
By staying warm, you will allow your body’s energy to be used to send blood to infected areas to fight infection. By staying cold, the energy will be used to keep you warm, thereby compromising your immune responses.
Take a decongestant
Taking a decongestant will reduce postnasal drip so you’ll have less mucus to cough up and irritate your lungs and cause a sore throat. You’ll also be able to breathe easier which will allow your body more energy to function and fight your cold. The decongestants will also help reduce swelling in the mucus membranes, allowing for easier breathing.
Use a humidifier
During a cold, the insides of the internal membranes tend to dry up. Using a humidifier (which produces breathable vapor) will tend to comfort the swollen air passages and relieve hoarseness. However, take care to prevent too much dampness in a room. This can encourage mold and fungus which is harmful for lungs.
While stressful situations are a part of life, be careful to extract yourself from these situations at least while you are suffering from a cold. Your body needs the additional resources to fight the infection.
Gargling with warm water
Gargling with warm water is known to sooth the hoarse throat during a cold bout. The relief is immediate, and without any side-effects.
In any case of a cold or a flu, make sure to consult your doctor to prevent any complications.