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