The common cold can strike at any time, often when you least expect it. During the fall and winter months when people spend more time indoors to avoid the cold, they increase the risk of contracting a virus. In the United States, it’s common for the average adult to experience two to three colds per year. When you first notice symptoms, it’s best to put a get well guide or plan in place.
When you feel that tickle in your throat, body aches, or sinus congestion, you know a cold is coming your way. Many people just ride it out and let the immune system do what it can to combat the virus it encountered. Rhinoviruses cause about 30-50% of all colds, which often cause runny nose, congestion, sinus pressure, sore throat, cough, or mild chest discomfort. It tends to take two to three days to develop symptoms after the virus enters the body. When you notice those symptoms, it’s best to take actions that reduce the severity of symptoms.
Before you rush out and buy every over-the-counter cold medication in sight, try several natural remedies to promote wellness. It’s always best to hydrate with water immediately and comfort the throat with hot herbal teas. It can also be beneficial to drink water, in which you mix electrolyte powder. Water helps with the delivery of oxygen and removal of toxins from the body, so drink up! In addition to hydration, the following tips will help combat cold symptoms.
Gargle With Saltwater
One of the best natural remedies for a sore throat is to gargle with saltwater. In a glass of warm water, mix in about half a teaspoon of salt and stir to dissolve. Salt helps to draw out excess water from the tissues in the throat, reducing inflammation and clearing out mucus in the process. Rinsing the throat with salt water helps to get rid of any lingering bacteria or viruses, which may increase the severity of cold symptoms.
Perform A Sinus Rinse
This isn’t the most fun or attractive thing to do, but rinsing the sinuses with a saline solution helps to irrigate the nasal passages. When you rinse with a saline solution, you decrease the viscosity of the mucus, helping the body to get rid of it at a faster rate. Additionally, the rinse aids cilia, which are tiny cells that promote mucus clearance. You can mix saline packets (typically a mixture of baking soda and salt) with eight ounces of distilled water. You can also make your own saline solution with distilled water, salt, and baking soda. Administer the rinse with a neti pot, bulb syringe, or squeeze bottle.
Increase Vitamin D Levels
Several studies and nutritionists concur that people with adequate vitamin D levels have better functioning immune systems. People with lower vitamin D levels may have a higher risk of developing respiratory infections. Natural sunlight helps the body synthesize vitamin D, but natural sunlight isn’t always in great supply during colder months. If you struggle to find sufficient sunlight, you may need to take a vitamin D supplement. People between the ages of 1-70 require a minimum of 15 micrograms, or 600 international units (iu), of vitamin D per day.
Eat Some Honey
While you should not eat copious amounts of honey, a spoonful here and there when you are sick may help to combat the infection. A 2007 study found that organic buckwheat honey was superior to a placebo at reducing the severity of coughs in children. Raw honey is a rich source of antimicrobial properties and antioxidants that help to fight infections. When you consume raw honey, it creates a thin layer over mucus membranes, providing relief from throat pain or irritation. If you don’t want to swallow a tablespoon of honey, mix it into hot water and drink up.
Take A Rest Day
There’s no sense in heading to your office and getting other people sick. Use your sick day for what it’s intended for and take a day to rest. The body has a better chance at fighting off the virus if you get plenty of rest. Sleep is the body’s best friend when trying to fight off a virus. Experts believe that you can mitigate the effects of a common cold if you rest more and maintain regular hand washing practices.
Eat A Healthy Diet
The last thing that you need to do when you experience cold symptoms is eat a lot of unhealthy foods. Fried foods, processed foods, refined sugars, alcohol, and more can impair immune function. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds can optimize the immune system. Focus your efforts on dark leafy greens, red and orange produce items, legumes, nuts & seeds, and whole grains. Many of these foods have potent antioxidant activity that can boost immune function.