It might start with a suspicious tickle in the back of your throat or a few sneezes and a runny nose but when a nasty cold knocks you off your feet, life seems to come to a standstill.
It’s that time of year again, the temperature drops and we all become more susceptible to the viruses that plague our communities. Earlier this year when the remnants of last winter were still lingering, I contracted the worst flu I’ve ever experienced. I was too weak to get out of bed and fever wracked my body for day after miserable day. Since then I’ve been sick a couple times which tends to happen with frequent travel but recently my colds have been much less severe. I’ve been fighting back with everything in my pantry and today I’m sharing a few coping techniques that have proven useful.
1. Get Lots of Sleep
This may seem obvious but it may be your immune system’s best line of defense. When I’m sick and weak I drop everything (as hard as that is to do) and sleep as much as possible. If you have to stay in bed for most of the day or even several days then do so and tune out the world around you to recuperate. Try not to stress about work or responsibilities because it can be counterproductive to your health. Just relax and let your body fight for you, if not illness may be prolonged.
2. Strengthen Your Immune System Everyday
Since I started taking immune boosters like Emergen-C (which has more Vitamins C than 10 oranges) I’ve noticed that my colds are shorter in duration and less severe. I take immune boosters and vitamins everyday (not just when I’m sick) and overtime they strengthen my system so that when a virus hits I am better able to fight it off and recover. To read my article on immune supplements click HERE.
It is also a good idea to consume nutritious foods that are high in antioxidants to regain your strength. Drinking healthy smoothies loaded with leafy greens is an easy way to get your fruits and veggies when your appetite and energy is compromised or make a delicious salad.
I call this creation the energy booster salad. It contains arugula (my favorite), blueberries for a boost of antioxidants, green onion, tomato, mandarin orange, cucumber, sunflower seeds, cheese, avocado and chicken breast. Sometimes I add egg for extra protein and drizzle with a fig balsamic dressing.
3. Over-The-Counter Meds
Cough and cold meds contain antihistamine and pain relievers that help you cope with the worst symptoms. To break a fever I find Neocitran particularly helpful and to aide with sleep NyQuil is great. It also helps relieve congestion which is the worst! For a sore throat I usually opt for Cepacol Lozenges which numb and soothe with medicinal ingredients.
Please note: Before taking any medications you should consult your family physician. This article is not intended to replace medical advice.
4. Hot Showers, Hot Liquids and Natural Ingredients
You may already know that hot, steamy showers help loosen chest and nasal congestion while relaxing achy muscles but nothing beats hot homemade soup. Warm liquids help rid the body of disgusting mucus build-up that causes stuffiness and coughing.
I usually opt for natural teas with freshly grated ginger or hot water with lemon and organic honey to help eliminate bacteria.
Gargling with mouth wash which contains antiseptic also seems to help reduce the germs and viral symptoms that plague mucus membranes in the mouth and throat. Gargling with warm salt water throughout the day soothes irritation.
Instead of Vicks Vapour Rub I use natural peppermint oil from Saje which can be rubbed around the nostrils, on the chest or put in a facial steamer with water to open the airway.
A humidifier can also help add moisture to the air and natural saline sprays clear the throat and nose to reduce inflammation (I use HydraSense).
5. Spicy Foods
For me eating spicy food is pretty easy because I cook a lot of Indian dishes and I love lots of flavor. It doesn’t have to be a specific type of cultural cuisine (any heat and spice will do) but these foods help break down mucus so you can expel it from the body. Think about it – have you ever eaten a hot, delicious dish that made your nose run? Well that’s because the spice was thinning the mucus and chilli has anti-viral benefits.
I hope this helps, dress warm and stay healthy this winter :)