After its long-awaited and anticipated arrival, autumn is here and alongside it, its fatiguing friend – the incurable common cold.
This week, as I sprinted healthily toward Thanksgiving break, I was caught in the relentless reign of the cold.
So, for the past three days (which are foggy in hindsight), I was adhered to my bed in a small studio apartment where everything I needed was within arm’s reach.
A bag – or mound, rather – of disposed tissues and Lipton tea bags sat to my left as my legs baked slowly under the warmth of an old electric blanket.
Despite roasting limbs, my core was rebellious as cold chills coursed through my body, resulting in a battle between feeling freezing cold and unbearably hot.
And, as if the virus had not already made its home in my normally busy body, the head and body aches accompanied a roaring cough that had no intention of leaving in the near future – or two months from now.
Though its course seems harmless and quick, a cold can rob us of precious health and valuable time if not treated immediately.
As students, employees and interns constantly on the go, we should not ignore a virus that hinders the health of our upper respiratory tract.
Growing up, many of us were taught basic methods to bust the common cold: drinking clear fluids, lots of rest and chicken noodle soup.
Here are eight ways to effectively treat a cold as recommended by healthcare professionals at institutes such as The Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente.
1. Blow your nose – the right way.
Be careful not to burst an eardrum. Instead of blowing into a tissue with both nostrils at once, hold one nostril and release the other. This prevents earaches and dizziness while draining your sinuses.
2. Gargle. Gargle. Gargle.
An odd word when you say it aloud, but gargling helps with pain and healing.
It can moisten your sore throat while thinning thick mucus and relieving irritation. Allow a teaspoon of salt to dissolve in warm water and gargle.
To get rid of the tickle in your throat, gargle tea that contains tannin – this tightens your mucous membranes.
For adults, gargling honey and apple cider vinegar, although deemed a folk remedy, can help.
3. Take a hot, steamy shower.
This falls along the lines of “just sweat it out.” Sitting in a steamy shower will moisturize your nasal passages while relieving your body of typical aches and pains that accompany your cold. You should notice easier breathing and less tightness in your chest.
4. Invest in some garlic.
Traditionally, garlic has a healing reputation. For a cold, garlic can reduce your pain and the severity of upper respiratory illnesses.
The best way to do this is to crush garlic at room temperature, allow it to sit for 15 minutes and eat it raw. Nauseating, I know.
But if it doesn’t turn your stomach, chances are it will settle it and aid your cold.
5. Double-up on pillows.
Stacking two pillows behind your head will give your nasal passages the slope it needs to drain.
If sleeping this way is bothersome, it also helps to place pillows under your mattress, between the box spring, to fashion a more gradual slope.
6. Maintain a no-fly zone.
If you plan on flying during the holidays, don’t do it with a cold.
When the pressure in an airplane changes, it can stress your upper respiratory system and possibly injure your eardrums.
If you have to fly, take a decongestant before in the air and upon landing. Some simple fixes include swallowing often and chewing gum to relieve pressure.
7. No smoking.
Smoking cigarettes during a cold can prevent your body from healing quickly.
As a former smoker, I have lived through too many endless colds – all because I had to have a cigarette.
It is also more likely that a smoker will catch a cold than a non-smoker due to differences in the immune system.
8. Think zinc.
Popping a zinc lozenge before a cold kicks in can stop the virus in its tracks.
If a cold has set in, the zinc can shorten its duration.
According to recent discoveries, zinc may prohibit the virus from spreading and entering through a person’s nostrils and throat.