Away you go common cold!
An emergency tone rings through our minds when we feel an itchy throat. Was it the extra scoop of ice-cream last night? Or the three extra cubes of ice? Was it the sudden, piercing gust of cold wind? Sudden sneezes are just as bad. One cannot help but wonder if these are signs of an approaching storm- the common cold. A common cold can strike anyone unannounced. What begins with a stuffy nose usually ends with medical bills, a frail body, a depressed mind and a few wasted days. Common colds can be avoided but once you’ve contracted one, you need to fight it off. So what can you do?
1. Rest. The importance of a good eight hour sleep cannot be stressed enough. Simply put, the body’s immune system kicks into action when we fall sick to ward off the invading illness. Our bodies need to suspend all other extraneous activities in order to direct all energy towards fighting the disease. That is why rest is so important. Depriving our bodies of sleep simply worsens the condition since the body cannot focus solely on the illness. This is the reason why most medicines contain compounds which make you drowsy. It’s so important to rest the body that it needs to be enforced if necessary.
2. Clear the sinuses. Sinuses are the hardest hit when you’re down with a cold. Lying in the para-nasal cavity between the eyes and the nose, their blockage is responsible for tears and the distinct nasal voice during a cold. Lack of taste during a cold is also associated with blocked sinuses. Speaking increases the amount of air entering the nose and is the simplest way to clear the nasal passage. Steam is also helpful clears congested cavities between the nose and the eyes. Alternatively, one may use decongestants to help breathe better.
3. Chicken soup for the body. One needs to be very careful with one’s diet when sick. The right food can work wonders for you. Studies have shown that chicken soup helps build immunity and helps people get better faster. The exact mechanism is unknown but the advantages are indubitable. It also has psychological effects on people and makes them confident of recovery. Additionally, the hot liquid from the soup may help clear the nasal passages and soothe your throat. This can also be achieved by consuming other hot liquids such as coffee and tea, but the caffeine content might not encourage you to rest enough, and that is why chicken soup is perfect.
4. Spice it up. Spices in food are just as important as medicines, and are known to help build the body’s immunity. Consuming chillies on a regular basis drastically reduces one’s chances of falling sick. Ingredients like ginger, garlic and chilli peppers are renowned for their anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, as well as their ability to clear the sinuses. Spices can also help get rid of germs from the system. Plus, they might be the only foods you have a chance of actually tasting since these are the only things your olfactory lobes will sense.
5. Take a hot bath or shower. You might not want to leave your bed, but a hot shower can be extremely effective. The steam from the hot water will help to clear your nasal passages, while also relax your body. It is often advised to sweat out a bad cold to make your body act against it faster and a hot bath will do just that. But be careful and avoid overdoing it. Cover your body as soon as possible after the bath to prevent the cold from escalating. If the heat leaves you feeling a little dizzy, consider putting a plastic chair or stool in the shower. These are simple and effective ways to ward off flu. But common colds leave you with bad taste in the mouth, literally, and one should get rid of them as soon as possible. It is important to reiterate the importance of getting enough rest and eating a healthy diet for good immunity. Consumption of adequate vitamins, especially vitamin C can greatly improve your immune system. Omega 3 fatty acids and folic acid are just as important. Your immune system is your best friend and it’ll simply reciprocate the amount of care you give it.