The average person gets the common cold two to four times a year. The flu? Once every five years. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like those odds. The only thing more upsetting than lying awake feeling congested, coughing up a lung with a pounding headache is the realisation that you’ve got three more to go this year. Gross.
Today, I am going to walk you through some ways to alleviate the symptoms of the common cold so that you can get on with living.
Around 90% of people find it hard to fall asleep when they’ve got a cold, and just over half the population puts that down to nasal congestion. Here is what I do.
- Crank some anti inflammatories. Many people think that a blocked nose is simply the result of having too much mucus up there. But think about it, that would mean it is possible to unblock your nose by blowing it often enough. We all know that doesn’t actually do much. The real reason your nose gets blocked is because the blood vessels have become inflamed by the virus and it narrows your nasal passages. An anti-inflammatory (like an ibuprofen) is a surefire way to unclog the old sniffer.
- Get some humidity into the air. Maybe it is through a humidifier, or maybe just from steaming up the shower. Either way, moist air goes a long way in soothing irritated tissues. Cold dry air is your number one enemy, which is the real reason you tend to cop these more often in winter. The humid summer air is much better at keeping the nasties at bay.
- Drink a comical amount of water. In doing so, you are injecting as much water as possible into your mucus which prevents it from becoming thick, like clag glue up in your nasal passages. If you can cut back on the pressure up there, that will reduce the irritation and inflammation.
- Use Otrivin nasal spray. Otrivin nasal spray uses the active ingredient xylometazoline hydrochloride to reduce inflammation in your nose, and rather than waiting for it to arrive from a tablet (which has to be absorbed and distributed inside, Otrivin nasal spray sends the relief behind enemy lines to where it is needed most. Usually, you can feel the results within about five minutes, and the results last up to ten hours.
A sore throat can rob you of all joy. You can’t speak, eat or drink. For an extravert like me who loves food, this is a veritable death sentence. Luckily, there are some things you can do to combat this early and get back to your usual loudmouth self.
- Suck a lozenge. This sounds like the kind of thing you might yell in a fit of road rage, but it is also sound advice when trying to get rid of a sore throat. The last thing you want is for your throat to get dry and cold as this is the ideal climate for the virus. By sucking on a losange, you are keeping the area warm and moist. I also run straight to a Strepsil or something similar. Many of these products have anaesthetic properties, and you can feel the back of your throat starting to numb as you go. Sweet relief.
- Rest. This will often force you to stop speaking, which is a good thing. It prevents you from further inflaming your throat, and by keeping your mouth close (you guessed it), it stays warm and moist.
- Start gargling. You can use straight saltwater or a betadine gargle. Tilting your head back is crucial here, as you want the betadine or salt to land right on the painful blisters in the back of your throat. Repeat this 5-6 times a day, and you can dramatically reduce the time spent suffering.
- Avoid smoking. I always make the comment that this could be dropped into any blog I write and not be out of place. Cigarette smoke irritates your throat and causes the blood vessels to become more inflamed.
This is one of my last favourite symptoms. The cough is your body’s attempt to clear the lungs and windpipe of a foreign body which shouldn’t be there; in this case, mucus and phlegm. But when it is prolonged, we end up with inflammation throughout our chest and windpipe. Here are a few ways to get on top of the pain quickly.
- Keep up the fluids, especially if they are hot. The rationale is that liquids make sure that the gunk in your chest is not too thick to expel via a cough. If you get dehydrated (which happens when you’re sneezing, coughing and blowing your nose) the phlegm in your chest gets thicker and more likely to stay put. The heat is just a way of loosening it up even further. Think about washing up a fry pan: Cold water doesn’t dislodge anything. Hot water makes the oil/grease practically fall off. Same deal applies in your lungs. There is also a good shout to include some manuka honey as the antibacterial properties can help to suppress that cough that just won’t leave you alone.
- Work out what kind of cough I have. Do I have a “thick hard to dislodge anything” cough? If so, I take a cough liquid that uses the word expectorant somewhere. That loosens everything up in your lungs. If it is wet and phlegmy, I will look for some kind of pseudoephedrine to dry everything up. If I end up with a dry cough, look for a treatment that uses the word suppressant somewhere on the package. This is suppressing your need to cough at the source so all that inflammation can get a chance to calm down.
- Get some humidity into the air. Keeping everything moist and warm soothes inflammation which helps you to feel better
Trust me. This works. Don’t suffer for any longer than you need to.
All the best,