As winter draws to a close, cabin fever drives many people out in the still-warming air where they catch a bit of a chill and, as a result, start to feel a cold coming on. While television ads sing the praises of commercial cold and flu remedies, many such OTC preparations address symptoms but fail to cure. Do you know how to prevent a cold when you feel it coming?
Several methods exist to execute a full stop on a cold about to strike. Mother Nature provides most of what we need, and some research suggests certain supplements also help. Here’s how to prevent a cold when you feel it coming.
How to Tell When a Cold Is Coming On
Achy joints. Stuffy head. Ticklish throat. Overwhelming fatigue. All of these hallmarks of oncoming illness scream, “take action.” Consider symptoms as the body’s natural way of alerting the person walking around in it know something is amiss.
The problem is, many common cold symptoms mirror those of other illnesses. For example, excessive fatigue may point to thyroid issues many women experience, especially immediately following pregnancy.
The first sign that a cold is imminent is an itchy, irritated throat. Within three days, those suffering from colds develop thick yellow or green mucus. Coughing and sniffling also occur, but thin, dry, unproductive coughs may indicate a more serious infection like pneumonia, especially if accompanied by a feeling of tightness in the chest.
How to Prevent a Cold When You Feel It Coming
When it comes to the common cold, an ounce of prevention equals much more than a pound of cure. It’s vital to know how to prevent a cold when you feel it coming in order to potentially stave it off. Practicing good hand-washing techniques prevents contracting the illness more than any other prophylactic measure. A quick rinse will not suffice — instead, lather hands well with soap for at least 20 seconds, then rinse.
Other preventive measures include taking a quality vitamin and mineral supplement high in vitamin C and zinc. While scientists disagree on the overall effectiveness, some evidence indicates that vitamin C may aid those under severe stress and zinc prevents viruses from multiplying.
Exercise improves circulation and increases the rate white blood cells travel, so stick to that workout routine to avoid illness. If working out in a public fitness facility, clean all equipment with antibacterial wipes before and after use to prevent picking up germs. This is just common courtesy, as no one wants to lie down on a hamstring curl bench with sweat all over it.
Foods high in vitamin D may help prevent winter colds, so nosh away on fatty fish and eggs. Garlic also shows promise, as a recent study indicates that those eating a diet high in the herb were 63 percent less likely to catch a bug.
What to Do When a Sick Day Is Coming
One way to prevent a cold when you feel it coming is to use that sick day at the first onset of symptoms instead of waiting to feel truly lousy. Adequate rest boosts immune system function, especially in women, whose more complex immune systems burn more energy while fighting nasty germs. Take advantage of this perfect opportunity to relax on the couch and binge watch “Criminal Minds” on Netflix.
Those who absolutely must work benefit from telecommuting when they feel a cold coming on to avoid spreading the bug around the office. While those working in the food industry often lack paid sick leave, they nevertheless recover more quickly and keep the public safer by taking a day or two off when ill.
Natural Remedies for Illness Recovery
Besides taking it easy, incorporating natural remedies may help stave off the worst of different cold strains. Some herbalists swear by raspberry leaf tea for preventing colds or shortening their duration. As a bonus, the tea may improve female fertility, so those trying to get pregnant reap a dual benefit.
Gargling with warm salt water really does help relieve a scratchy throat. Several times per day, mix one half-teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of water and make that funky throat propeller noise for as long as comfortable.
Although researchers haven’t reached agreement on the efficacy of echinacea, herbal practitioners have long recommended the herb in lessening cold severity. To alleviate congestion, sufferers can fill the sink with steamy hot water and add a few drops of eucalyptus before placing a towel over their head. Hot chamomile tea with honey soothes the throat and opens sinuses, but skip the shot of brandy — alcohol dehydrates the body, making it harder to expel mucus.
Getting Back to Health
Should all efforts at avoiding an incipient cold fail, recover more quickly by taking it easy. Failure to rest makes colds last longer as stressed immune systems perform less efficiently. While most experts assert that taking gentle exercise with a head cold remains OK, stick with low -impact exercises like walking and gentle yoga stretches. Save the heavy lifting or marathon training for another day and take a pass on the workout altogether if symptoms move below the neck.
While many cold sufferers lack appetite, strive to eat as much nutrient-rich food as possible. Remember the adage about feeding a cold? Chicken soup may not cure the common cold, but it still tastes delicious.
Stay hydrated. Those with fever sweat more, but even those running at 98.6 degrees benefit from drinking more water, as fluids help expel mucus.
Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help relieve muscle aches, but exercise caution when taking them. Too much acetaminophen may harm the liver, and too much ibuprofen can cause tummy trouble.
Stay Healthy Year-Round
When people know how to prevent a cold when you feel it coming, they can be proactive. The best way to decrease the chances of getting sick during cold and flu season is to practice healthy habits all year. Eating whole, nutritious foods, performing moderate exercise most days of the week and maintaining proper hygiene stop most nasty bugs in their tracks before those infected even know they’ve been exposed. Take vitamins, wash those hands and enjoy feeling well and energized.