The common cold typically lasts around seven to 10 days.1 But it tends to feel much longer when you’re in the thick of it. To help speed up recovery, you may want to try anything and everything to get better faster. But how do you know when to treat symptoms or leave them alone? Is there really anything you can do to give your immune system a nudge?
Knowing When to Treat Your Symptoms & When to Leave Them Alone
Like the flu, colds are caused by viruses and therefore can’t be treated with antibiotics. In fact, if you take antibiotics for a viral infection, you’ll only increase your risk of getting an infection later that will be resistant to antibiotic treatment.
Though there are a number of over-the-counter cold/flu medications out there, none of them will actually cure your cold. In fact, nothing can. But just because there is no cure for the cold, doesn’t mean you have to feel miserable for ten days. Instead of doing nothing and letting your immune system do the heavy lifting, there are some things you can do to lend a helping hand. From getting extra rest to using homeopathic medicines, there are several home remedies you can try to treat symptoms and recover faster, and most of them are effortless.
Get Extra Rest
You may feel like you’re doing nothing when you spend all day sick in bed, but your body is actually working overtime to help you recover. During sleep, your body releases protective proteins called cytokines, which are crucial for fighting infection and inflammation.2 Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are also amped up when you’re asleep as your immune system utilizes more of your bodily energy to regenerate and recover.3
A study out of Spokane, Washington found that one such protein called AcPb teams up with an immune system signaling chemical called interleukin-1 to induce tiredness when ill.4 Animal subjects in the study who lacked this protein and did not sleep as much developed more severe symptoms of illness and did not recover as effectively as those who were able to sleep for long periods of time.
If you find it difficult to sleep because of a stuffy nose or sore throat, try using a humidifier, saline nasal spray, or a neti pot to help thin out mucus and clear congestion. You may also want to sleep propped up on pillows as mucus tends to pool when lying down.
Use Homeopathic Medicines that Work
While it may be tempting to take a popular cold/flu medication promising to make you feel better faster, these drugs contain a range of harsh, synthetic chemicals that may actually make you feel worse. These chemicals attempt to suppress your body’s systems to relieve symptoms while inducing common side effects like dizziness, lightheadedness, insomnia, and upset stomach. And there’s no evidence that such medications help speed up recovery at all.
Homeopathic medication offers a gentler approach to easing your symptoms without harmful chemicals or side effects. Brillia Health products, Cold-Flu Recovery and Cough Control, are clinically proven to reduce the duration of your illness while targeting the source of symptoms and helping your body heal itself. Each Brillia Health product contains three active ingredients consisting of antibodies that target different molecules that are involved when you get a cold, cough, or flu. One such antibody used in both products is Lapine Histamine immune globulin, which gently and effectively helps prevent symptoms like congestion, runny nose, and stuffy nose. And two antibodies found in Cold-Flu Recovery, Lapine CD4 immune globulin and Lapine interferon gamma immune globulin, target immune cells to boost them while recruiting even more immune cells to help you recover faster. This product is powerful and works with your body to reduce the symptoms and help you heal faster; in fact Cold-Flu Recovery can be used by children as young as one. And Cough Control can be used by children three and up.
Blow Your Nose Correctly
Nasal congestion is one of the most common (and irritating!) symptoms of the common cold. Previous research has shown that adults with colds tend to blow their nose around 45 times a day.5 But did you know there’s a wrong way to blow your nose?
According to Dr. Vincent Lin, an otolaryngologist and surgeon at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, blowing your nose too hard can force air and pressure into places that you don’t necessarily want it to go into, such as the ears.6 He says aggressive nose blowing can even lead to meningitis.
To blow your nose the correct way, try blowing one nostril at a time to relieve pressure and protect your eardrums. And be sure you’re blowing gently. Discard any used tissues and wash your hands frequently (or use hand sanitizer) so you don’t spread the virus around.
Prioritize Drinking Liquids: Water & Hot Drinks
Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do when battling a cold. Not only does it help loosen congestion and soothe your throat, but it can also aid recovery. Water boosts your immune system by helping to flush out toxins and transporting essential nutrients to your organs.
Experts recommend drinking a minimum of half their body weight in ounces of water.7 But there are other ways to stay hydrated too. In addition to water, try juice, clear broth, or warm lemon water with honey for extra soothing effects and steer clear of dehydrating drinks like coffee and alcohol.
Add Moisture to the Air: Use Humidifiers & Take Hot Showers
Humidifiers are a great way to add moisture to the air, which is helpful in loosening up mucus, easing congestion, and soothing a dry, scratchy throat. Moist air can also help you sleep better, which we’ve already learned is helpful in speeding up recovery.
However, it is important that your humidifier is clean. A dirty humidifier can result in the device spewing spores of mold and mildew into the air, causing more harm than good and actually prolonging your illness.
Don’t have a humidifier? A hot, steamy shower will also do the trick.
Apply Hot & Cold Compresses Around Your Congested Sinuses
Applying hot and cold compresses to the sinus area can also help you ease cold symptoms by increasing blood flow to that area and loosening up congestion. This alternating effect of hot and cold can also relieve the pain of sinus pressure and headaches.
Simply heat a wet cloth in the microwave, but be sure to test the temperature before applying, and drape it over your nose. Alternate with cold packs for fast relief.
When you have a cold, it’s important to remember that it won’t last forever. But canceling your plans and calling in sick to work will help your immune system do its job more properly.
Explore ways to help recover from colds and flus at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.
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