This is a sponsored guest post.
Everyone catches the common cold from time to time. For some people, it seems like it happens every other month, but for others, it’s only a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. Colds attack your sinuses, leaving you with red, teary eyes and a runny nose. For many people, colds bring on a general lethargy that makes them want to retreat to their beds.
Biological sciences have come a long way, but due to the diverse origins of the sicknesses people refer to as “the common cold,” there is no cure. Instead, you just have to address the symptoms of the cold and wait it out.
What is the Common Cold?
A cold is a viral infection caused by, not one, but an entire group of viruses. While more than 200 distinct viruses can cause colds, most result from rhinoviruses.
These viruses are primarily transmitted through droplets. In other words, if an infected person sneezes onto a surface and another person touches that surface, picks up the droplets, then touches their face, the virus will likely enter the body and attack.
Because colds result from different viruses, and individuals have varying immunity, cold symptoms present differently from person to person. In most cases, symptoms are mild. However, especially for vulnerable or immunocompromised individuals, colds can produce severe complications.
Typically, people experience the following symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Body aches
While the common cold has no cure, you can take measures to protect yourself from pathogens and strengthen your immune system. Preventative measures include the following:
- Observe high standards of personal hygiene
- Washing your hands with soap and water as often as you can
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands as many viruses can survive for hours on unsuspected surfaces
- Keep your distance from infected people
- Do your part to curb the spread of germs by covering your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze
- If you smoke, focus your efforts on quitting, because smoking suppresses the body’s natural anti-viral responses
You’ve Caught a Cold, Now What?
Even if you do follow the preventative tips listed above, you won’t be entirely immune to catching a cold. If you do get sick, all you can to treat the symptoms and recover as soon as possible. In general, directly boosting your immune system is the fastest way to get rid of a cold.
What are some natural ways you can improve your immune health while you’re sick? You can:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water or tea, to flush out toxins.
- Consume foods that help boost the immune system such as citrus fruits, kale, spinach, broccoli, blueberries, ginger, garlic, turmeric, and yogurt. Foods with antioxidants, natural probiotics, vitamin C, vitamin D, and anti-inflammatory properties all help improve immune functions.
- If you find it difficult to eat while sick, consider taking supplements to get the vitamins and minerals the immune system needs.
- Get plenty of sleep so the body can rest and repair.
- Reduce stress levels
- Directly treat your specific symptoms with decongestants, nasal sprays, lozenges, honey, a dehumidifier, vapor rubs, or by taking a hot shower.
What Doesn’t Work
The common cold is a viral infection, so taking antibiotics won’t do anything to fight off the illness. If you do catch a cold, the best thing you can do is mentally accept the fact that colds have no cure, but you can alleviate symptoms and speed up your recovery by taking care of your body.
It’s also not recommended to “power through” and completely ignore cold symptoms. While you shouldn’t stop all activity (getting light exercise while sick is actually great for the immune system), you also shouldn’t push yourself too far. By denying yourself rest, you’ll only prolong the illness.
Year-Round Healthy Habits and Cold Prevention
While devastating, the coronavirus pandemic has certainly woken people up to the vulnerabilities of the human immune system and has promoted preventative tactics. However, even if the spread of the virus slows, people should keep up these practices and try to lead healthier daily lives. Whether it’s cold and flu season or not, it’s never a bad idea to be vigilant against germs and to pay attention to your immune health.