How to beat a cold
Respiratory viruses are common, especially in winter, but they can make life miserable until they run their course. While you can’t avoid picking up a virus entirely, there are things you can do to minimize discomfort, speed up your recovery and keep yourself comfortable. Jeremy Byrd, MD, offered some tips.
What are the symptoms of respiratory viruses?
The most common symptoms of viruses in the respiratory tract include:
- Fatigue or a lack of energy
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Body aches and pains
- Swollen lymph nodes
Since symptoms of respiratory viruses and COVID-19 are so similar, anyone presenting with any of these symptoms should immediately seek out a COVID-19 test in order to rule it out as the cause of your illness.
What can I do to feel better more quickly with a cold?
Here are Dr. Byrd’s tips for a faster recovery when fighting a cold.
Early treatment is key
Dr. Byrd emphasized the importance of treating your viral illness as quickly as possible. “Start treatment the second you feel the first sniff,” he said. “Viruses can be difficult to treat, and they routinely last between two to four weeks, but can last even longer.”
Humidifiers, neti pots (if used correctly), and saline sprays help to thin out the mucus, which will speed the healing process and ease discomfort.
Clear up congestion
“A 3- to 4-day course of Afrin (an over-the-counter medication), or treating nasal congestion with pseudoephedrine are also options, but you shouldn’t use either if you have a history of hypertension,” Dr. Byrd said.
Mucinex, which can be found at just about any pharmacy, can help to break up the mucus and thin it out. While this won’t prevent a cough, it will help to make the cough more productive. It’s important to help the body be able to cough this excess out, as it helps to prevent the possibility of secondary infections like sinusitis, bronchitis or pneumonia.
Keep an eye on your fever
Fevers are a sign that the body’s immune system is working to defend itself against the virus, and a fever of up to 100.4 F is not necessarily a cause for concern. If the fever is causing you extra discomfort, try taking a lukewarm bath, drinking cold water, or laying a cold cloth over your forehead and the back of your neck.
Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also be used to help with body aches or to bring down a fever.
Call your doctor if your fever lasts more than 48 hours and is resistant to medication.
Try to rest and relax
We live in a busy world, and it’s easy to feel like you need to keep up with your daily routine even while sick because you don’t feel like you have the time to stop. However, trying to “power through” an illness often simply prolongs it, and can even make it more likely for secondary infections to develop.
When you’re sick, make sure to take the time to get extra rest. Go to bed early, sleep late and take naps as needed to allow your body to focus on fighting the virus.
One of the most important tips for beating a cold is also one of the easiest to forget – hydration. Respiratory viruses, like many illnesses, can be very dehydrating. It’s easy to forget to up your fluid intake, especially if you’re busy.
Try to drink plenty of water. If you’re not a fan of water, herbal teas or reduced-sodium broth are also good options. Don’t rely on sports drinks, soda or caffeinated beverages like coffee. Electrolyte-replenishment drinks like Pedialyte may also be helpful in reducing dehydration.
Take care not to spread the virus
Even after your fever is gone, you can still spread the virus through coughing. Remember not to cough into your hands; instead, cough into tissues or into the crook of your elbow.
If you catch yourself coughing into your hands by accident, wash with hot water and soap. You can help protect the members of your household by keeping to one or two rooms in your house, not touching doorknobs or faucets directly, and not sharing food or drink with others until the virus is gone.
One more tip – replace your toothbrush after you’re feeling better. This will help lessen the chance of getting sick again.
Fight the flu
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