Humidify the Air Indoors
Humidifiers increase moisture in the air, which helps provide overall comfort and can help clear secretions, soothe airways, and reduce coughs. Moist air also can assist in minimizing the feeling of having a dry, scratchy throat and aids cilia movement, which helps the immune system fight infection, especially during cold and flu season.
There’s No Need to Over-clean
When kids are sniffling due to cold or allergy symptoms, it’s smart to keep common areas clean. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States found that rhinoviruses (cold germs) can only survive a maximum of three hours on inanimate objects and human skin. So, while cleaning often is important to prevent sickness, over-cleaning might not help you avoid getting a cold or flu.
Spice It Up to Unclog Your Nose
Bring on the cayenne! Eating spicy foods can make your nose run. A runny nose may be beneficial because it helps break up congestion and remove irritants.
Elevate Your Head to Ease Congestion
Slightly elevate your head by using additional pillows to ease head congestion while you sleep. To treat colds you could also tilt your neck to drain your head and relieve sinus pressure.
Drink Water to Relieve Sinus Pressure
Keep a bottle of water with you wherever you go and take sips throughout the day. The extra hydration helps keep your nose moist and might help you breathe and rest easier.
Learn to Love Shower Steam
Sometimes the best way to care for a stuffed-up head for you or your child is to simply run a hot bath or shower and let the steam fill the room. The warm vapors could loosen mucus, help decongest the head, and might even help you breathe easier.
Fight Fever with Fluids
When you’re fighting a fever, try drinking at least 2 to 3 additional ounces of fluid every hour. Water or non-carbonated sports drinks work best. And remember, even if you’re not sweating, you still can get dehydrated, which might weaken your immune system and lead to a prolonged fever. Moisture from continuous fluids also might help you with sore throat relief. It’s important to stay hydrated all of the time, but especially during cold and flu season.
Feed a Fever
Flu symptoms often include a fever, which can raise your metabolism by 7% for every degree greater than 98.6º F (37º C). Your body needs food to fuel your immune system when it’s fighting off a flu virus. So if you have a fever, try to eat slightly more to stay on the road to recovery.
Slight Fever? Don’t Panic
Studies1 have found that within a 24-hour cycle, it’s normal for your core body temperature to lower or rise from the average 98.6º F (37º C). So if the thermometer reads a little high (or low), it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a cold or flu virus.
Exercise with a Cold, but Not the Flu
The National Institutes of Health in the United States has said that, for the most part, it’s OK to exercise even if you have a cold. The simple act of sweating helps expel harmful germs. Cold medicines might help keep your coughing and other cold symptoms at bay while you’re working out, but don’t push yourself too hard, especially if you have a fever.
ACHES AND PAINS
Use the Right Pain Reliever
There are two primary over-the-counter pain relievers on the market today—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen. NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, relieve pain by reducing inflammation, making them well-suited for muscle aches, while acetaminophen blocks pain signals, which is ideal for general headaches and fever.
GENERAL COLD CARE
Expect Multiple Cold and Flu Symptoms
It is estimated that 80% of cold and flu sufferers experience more than one cold symptom. The most bothersome symptoms are runny/blocked nose, cough, aches, and pain.
Eat for Relief
Warm, flavorful food can help relieve cough and sore throat symptoms by stimulating salivation and secretions to help soothe and lubricate the throat.2
2 Sanu, A, Eccles, R. The effects of a hot drink on nasal air flow and symptoms of common cold and flu. Rhinology, December 2008; 46(4): 271-5.
Practice Proper Thermometer Care
Cleaning a glass thermometer with hot or even just warm water can cause an inaccurate reading. It’s always best to use cool water and the appropriate cleaner.
Put Your Trust in Chicken Soup
When you have a cold or flu, a study conducted by the American College of Chest Physicians® suggests that chicken soup can help treat colds, making you feel better.
Studies show that elevated levels of stress reduce the number of T cells in your body. You need T cells to keep your immune system strong. So if you’re feeling under the weather, take it easy. Relax and breathe. Doctor’s orders!
Know the Difference Between a Cold and Flu
A cold generally comes on slowly and starts with a sore throat and sneezing. The flu comes on quickly, and causes muscle soreness, fever, chills, and fatigue. Flu and cold medicine can help alleviate some of these symptoms. Just make sure you find the right flu and cold remedy for yourself.