How to treat a cold, from drinking fluids to exercising

Let’s nip that winter cold in the bud as quickly as possible

With winter now in full swing, it’s inevitable that colds will soon start circulating around the office.

While that itch at the back of your throat may prompt that ominous feeling of impending illness,we’ve compiled a handy guide to nipping a cold in the bud as soon as possible.

As everyone should (hopefully) know, there’s no such thing as a quick-fix cure for the common cold.

However, there are certain remedies that can try that will ease your symptoms and reduce the duration of the virus.

Here’s how you can treat your cold, from making sure that you’re hydrated to partaking in light exercise:

Keep eating and drinking

Your choice of food and drink can affect how long it takes for you to recover from a cold.

Water, juice, soups and clear broth will all help to alleviate congestion and prevent dehydration.

“You can help your immune system fight off a cold by increasing your intake of fluids, vitamin C and zinc,” says Dr Robert Clarke.

“A healthy, balanced diet including plenty of green vegetables, fruit and non-concentrated fruit juice will help this.”

Drinking alcohol, coffee and fizzy drinks may make you feel more dehydrated.

Rest

If you’re struggling to breathe on account of your cold, then you mustn’t strain yourself more than is necessary.

Failure to rest will result in you recovering at a far slower rate, not to mention putting more people at risk of being infected by you.

“You can protect your immune system by improving sleep and reducing stress,” says Dr Clarke.

Soothe a sore throat

Investing in antibiotic throat lozenges can help to relieve a sore throat, while also preventing a cold from getting any worse.

The NHS also recommends that adults with colds gargle warm salty water and sucking on ice cubes, ice lollies or hard sweets to soothe their throats.

Young children shouldn't be encouraged to gargle salty water or suck on ice cubes, as the latter may cause them to choke.

Sweat it out

Doing some exercise when you’re experiencing mild symptoms of a cold could prove beneficial.

Leah Mooshil Durst, MD, an internist at Northshore University HealthSystem in Chicago, Illinois, explains how doing so could help make you feel better.

“Research has shown that when someone has a cold virus, in general, it is safe to exercise,” she tells Everyday Health.

“Some of the participants in a study even said they felt better from their exercise session in spite of their colds, but this did not help them get better faster.”

“Exercising with a cold or the flu is probably unlikely to cause complications if you do not have other medical problems,” infectious disease specialist Catherine Liu, MD adds.

“However, if you have an underlying medical condition such as asthma, heart disease, or other medical illnesses, you should check with your doctor first, as exercise may worsen an underlying medical problem.”

Ease congestion

While you may be tempted to blow your nose as frequently as possibly as your cold develops, this could lead to your mucus membrane becoming even more irritated.

"Blowing your nose hard is not a good idea, as it can irritate the inside of your nose and damage the lining of the nose and sinuses,” GP Lucy Belton tells Good Housekeeping.

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"This can cause discomfort and potentially make one more prone to something like sinusitis."

Instead, you could try using an over-the-counter saline spray before blowing. This will soften the mucus and make your nose feel less stuffy.

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