health

How to cure your cold in 24 hours.

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You’ve woken up with a pounding head, runny nose and puffy eyes.

There’s no denying it – you’re about to get struck down with a cold.

But rather than settle in with your best friend – a box of tissues – there are things you can do throughout the day that can help you rid yourself of the sniffles.

7am

Stay or go? It’s that dreaded decision: do you take a day off from work and let the tasks pile up, or power through and risk making your symptoms worse? Professor Robert Booy from the University of Sydney says to make the call based on the number of symptoms you have, and the severity.

“It’s a tricky one. If you have a combination of at least three symptoms – say a fever, sniffly nose and cough – then that’s a sign you’re infectious,” he says.

“The flu is around for only four to six weeks a year so if you’re unwell in that period and have flu-like symptoms, head to your GP within 48 hours,” he says. Otherwise, skip the doctor; antibiotics aren’t necessary for the common cold.

8am

Take a steamy shower.

“Hot showers are great to break up mucous and clear the nasal passages,” says naturopath Katherine Maslen.

And while it’s not medically proven to alleviate a cold, Professor Booy admits it’s a great relaxant if you wake up feeling ill.

cure a cold
“Hot showers are great to break up mucous and clear the nasal passages.”

10am

Stock up on the right supplies. As for natural aids, the best supplements are zinc and Echinacea, says Maslen. This month the University of Helsinki even found that zinc could shorten the duration of a cold by 42 per cent- not bad if you’ve only got one day to recover.

It’s also important to blow your nose the right way – and yes, apparently there is a wrong way. Studies show forcefully blowing can propel mucus into the sinuses. Instead, press a finger over one nostril and blow gentry to clear the other.

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If you’ve got to sneeze, Professor Booy says to use the crook of your elbow rather than your hands to avoid spreading germs.

Midday

Nourish your body. It turns out mum’s chicken soup actually has some health cred.

“A hot broth helps to keep nasal passages moist, prevent dehydration and fight throat inflammation,” says dietitian Larina Robinson.

As for snacks, she says processed foods are a no-go.

“If you want to get well quicker, avoid highly refined carbohydrates and sugars. They contain very little nutrients and can actually increase inflammation,” she says.

Instead, add honey for a sweet kick.

“Manuka honey is the best because it has a higher antibacterial rating, but all honey has immune boosting properties,” says Maslen.

cure a cold
“A hot broth helps to keep nasal passages moist, prevent dehydration and fight throat inflammation.”

3pm

Stretch. When you’re aching and housebound putting on your gym gear might sound like the last thing you want to do, but a US study has found that light exercise can actually help.

Basic movement such as stretching or light yoga has been found to improve the way people report feeling about their symptoms. It may not impact the actual severity of a cold, but if it helps you feel better then that’s half the battle, right?

Don’t rush to the gym though. “If you have a viral infection intense exercise could do you serious damage,” Booy says.

9pm

Get some Zzz.

Turn in early and try for a minimum of eight hours for maximum recovery.

“When you’re unwell your body needs more rest,” explains Professor Booy.

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If you’re still sniffly, elevate your head. Adding an extra pillow at night can help to alleviate coughs and ease sinus pressure.

With enough TLC (read: rest, fluids and episodes of Girls), you should have eased the symptoms by morning.

Take that, cold.

A healthy diet is also important in protecting your body against getting sick. Luckily that doesn’t mean having to give up all your favourite foods…

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Want more? Try these:

Is it easier to get a cold in winter? This old wive’s tale debunked.

7 sneaky secrets from people who never get sick

5 tips to help avoid a cold or flu this winter

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