We don’t mean to sound unnecessarily bleak here, but the new year heads downhill fast. The heat begins to slip away, and autumn arrives before you know it. And with this cold dry air comes the common cold. When you’re in the midst of a cold that could slay a walrus, the warmth of December is but a distant memory. Today we will take a deep dive into the various ailments that come with the common cold, as well as how to get rid of them as swiftly as possible.
Two unblocked nostrils might just be the most unappreciated privileges, that you only recognise when it is gone. When you contract a cold, your blood vessels swell and become inflamed. This constricts and obstructs your nasal passageways. If this wasn’t already bad enough, your body begins producing excess mucus to expel the foreign body. So you’ve got far more trying to get through something far smaller. It’s a winning combination. Contrary to common sense, you can’t unblock your nose by blowing your nose. You need to deal with the infection first and foremost.
Here are a few of your options.
First up, you can go with a spray, because this delivers the medicines straight to your nasal passages, whereas oral tablets need to be digested so they work slower. Otrivin Nasal Spray is a fairly popular choice here. Otrivin Nasal spray uses the active ingredient xylometazoline which stimulates the alpha adrenergic receptors in your nose. It causes the inflamed blood vessels to calm down so you aren’t as congested. It is important to note that a spray like Otrivin Nasal Spray is a temporary treatment. It is often a good idea to use it like a scouting team which can secure the sight before the cavalry (oral tablets) arrive.
Nothing takes the joy out of life like a sore throat. It robs all the joy from food and conversation. This is a fairly common part of having a cold, and it happens when the virus spreads into the pharynx, larynx and tonsils. Sadly, your body responds to this viral infection by producing more mucus which runs down the back of your throat and irritates it even more. In the words of Gardening Australia’s Peter Cundall, “There’s nothing you can do. But there’s one thing you can do.” Actually, there are a few, but none of them will provide the immediate relief you are craving.
- Keep up your fluids. It avoids dryness in your throat which is the virus’ ideal breeding scenario. The more moist and warm you can keep your throat, the better you will be. Water also helps to hydrate the muscles in your throat which fights inflammation.
- Keeping up the painkillers is a great idea. Ibuprofen will travel directly to the site of inflammation and begin to put out that fire, whereas paracetamol will head to the pain receptors in your brain and dull their sensitivity. You will still have pain, you just won’t feel it.
- Pick up some strepsils. These are the closest you can come to immediate pain relief, as they contain a mild anesthetic which is delivered straight into the inflammation. It is worth checking out the directions on the back, as you can’t take any more than 12 in a 24 hour window. Given how bad some sore throats get, you might accidentally end up taking too much and feeling unwell.
All of that mucus and debris your body has created in trying to fight the virus has to go somewhere, right? It ends up in your airways and lungs, and so your body coughs to try and expel it from your system. As much as coughing is the worst, if your body didn’t do it, you would end up with pneumonia. Whilst it is doing you a favour, you will probably want to reduce the duration you’re spending hacking up one of your lungs. Here’s how you do it.
- Again, stay hydrated. This will thin out the mucus that is clogging up your lungs and airways making it easier to dislodge. You know that really dry cough that ends up giving you a sore throat? Drinking plenty of water will help you avoid that.
- Get a humidifier. THe more moist and warm you can keep the atmosphere, the less likely the virus is to reproduce and rally. The reason it arrives with a vengeance every autumn isn’t because you are physically colder. It is just that the virus prefers cold and dry. A humidifier is the natural enemy of the cold. Failing that, take a hot hot shower.
Much like our bodies cough to clear our lungs of irritants, a sneeze is the same process, but with the nose. This can be the result of a viral infection filling up our passageways with irritants, but it can also be a result of other environmental factors as well. Most of the methods listed above will help to alleviate a persistent sneeze, but one unique remedy is the warm compress. Soak a towel in boiling water, squeeze it out, and (when safe to do so) place it over your face and nose This will soothe your nasal passages and hopefully put an end to your sneezing. It is one of those things that can be very embarrassing if you’re in a shared space.
This is slightly unavoidable. When you are fighting off a cold, your immune system is working overtime, and redirecting all the white blood cells in your body away from your muscles and towards the sight of inflammation. There isn’t much you can do about this aside from lean into it. Support your body in its fight against infection. Lay low, take it easy, and if possible, don’t go into work. There has never been a better reason to binge a TV show or finish a book.
Hopefully, this gives you some practical tools in your fight against the common cold. All of these, combined with a bit of time, should see you fighting fit in no time!