Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Surviving a cold

I have a cold, and it's getting worse. I have spent most of today alternating between sleeping and watching old episodes of Grey's Anatomy (season 5) and trying my best to feel better, so I thought I'd write up my tips and tricks for surviving illness- lets face it- it's coming up to flu season (don't you just love winter...) and getting a cold is almost unavoidable...

1) Stay hydrated. I always lose my appetite when I'm ill, but it's really important to keep up your fluid intake.

2) Try and eat well. I usually go for lots of little snacky things when I can't face an actual meal. (A lot of people swear by chicken broth, but as a vegetarian I can't comment on that) Plus spicy foods can work wonders for decongestion (plus if your sense of taste disappears when you have a cold, you might actually be able to taste a spicy curry!)

3) Get lots of rest. Your body can heal itself much better when you're not dragging yourself to work/school or anywhere else you usually go. (It's the perfect excuse to laze around watching old episodes of Grey's Anatomy)

4) Just Say Yes (to legal, over-the-counter drugs) Paracetamol is good for fevers and headaches, as well as that horrible achy feeling. Ibuprofen is also good for pain relief, and reduces inflammation. You can get a lot of cold/flu relief specific products, but they are usually based on paracetamol or ibuprofen, and I don't find them any better than the generic ones. As always, read the labels and follow the instructions carefully (I don't want to be responsible for any overdoses!!!)

5) Cough medicine is awesome; for me having a cough is one of the most annoying cold symptoms, I'm used to runny noses and sneezing- I'm allergic to a lot of things, I get it a lot, but coughs hurt your throat and chest and that's not fun. I like really Covonia, it taste's rank (unless you like liquorice) but it really does the job.

6) Throat lozenges are even more awesome (I'm rather prone to tonsillitis) some of them actually numb your whole throat- such a relief! (these ones from Boots are my favorite, I find it kinda hilarious that they're all out of stock at the moment)

7) Steam yourself. A hot shower or bath is great as the steam will help loosen and drain all that horrible mucus. Humidifiers are also supposed to be good.

8) Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, cough and sneeze into a tissue, dispose of used tissues immediately; try not to pass on your cold to other people (in this case, caring means NOT sharing)

9) There is absolutely no scientific backing to the claims that echinacea helps prevent and treat colds, so I really wouldn't bother with that, but vitamin C may help (there have been many studies on this, and there are varying results) so that may be worth a try.

It's also worth noting that colds and flu are caused by viruses. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics (antibiotics work against bacterial infections) so don't be annoyed that a visit to a Dr. will probably not result in a prescription- there is nothing we can do to treat viruses, except treating the symptoms.

I once had an awesome lecturer (who specialised in infectious diseases, I loved his lectures) who said that the best way to tell a cold apart from a flu was the '£100 note test': if you had a cold you just definitely drag yourself out of bed to take a £100 note from someone, but if you had the flu, you'd be way too exhausted and ill to manage it. 

I hope you don't get ill this 'flu season' but if you do, I hope you get better quickly!

What are your top tips for getting over illness?



  1. oooh good tips, hope you feel better soon.
    I like buying menthol crystals from the chemists and dropping a few crystals into hot water and inhailing the vapour. It really clears your nose. x

  2. Thank you, me too! Ooh that sounds good, I love menthol stuff for colds - I'll keep a look out :)


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