Alright, so you've been doing all the "right" things--exercising, getting the proper amount of sleep, eating your fruits and veggies, taking your vitamins--and you still get sick with a nasty cold! What gives? As the saying goes, sometimes -ish happens! But, lets talk about some of the things you can do to help lessen the severity and duration of your cold so you can get back to being you sooner!
First off, don't panic! It will only make you feel worse. Take a deep breath and lets take a look at some things to help you out.
Next, decide is this a cold, flu, or allergies? Let's look at a few of the general symptoms of each:
*A Cold: mild aches, sore throat, stuffy nose, mild fatigue, little to no fever, comes on slower...you can feel it coming
*A Flu: very sudden onset, high fever, severe fatigue, severe aches/pains, chills
*Allergies: usual symptoms: itchy eyes, watery eyes, red eyes, sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, comes on fast after exposure to allergen (ex. pet dander, mold, dust, ragweed, etc)
Okay, you've got one of the three....what to do now?
*A Cold: I'll discuss down below
*A Flu: I'll discuss in a longer post at a later date, but generally, you could go to the doctor and try to get an antiviral (if its only been 72 hours since you've had it), or visit a health food store to grab a very popular homeopathic remedy known as Oscillococcinum, which can help your body deal with the symptoms and duration of the flu)
*Allergies: Again, I'll discuss as we get closer to a new allergy season, but you could run to the drug store and grab some over the counter medications (anti-histamines) or while at your local health food store, you could grab some natural allergy relief (ex. Quercetin, Bromelain, etc.)
Dealing with a Cold
Foods to eat:
1. Hot Liquids--There's a reason people eat alot of soup during times of illness--chicken soup works wonders! The warm liquids help soothe sore throats and open up nasal passages. Not only does soup work, but so does hot tea! Oatmeal also warms you from the inside out and is one of my favorite things any time of the year, even when illness strikes.
2. Stay Hydrated--It will help keep things moving through you. I know staying hydrated is the last thing I want to do when I feel lousy, but it will help for the release of the virus.
3. Whole Foods, especially Vitamin C rich foods--Orange juice, oranges, grapefruits/grapefruit juice (if you can drink this), kiwis, red peppers for example. Yes, I know its easier to grab a box of crackers out of the cabinet and just eat those. But, nutrition is key to help support the body as it fights the virus and tries to drive it out.
I know cooking is also the last thing you want to do, so, if there are already pre made meals in the freezer, use them! Even if there isn't, grabbing pre sliced veggies and fruits from your local store will give you healthy snacking and quick meal options. As a single gal, when I'm sick, its just me (the dogs can't exactly cook me food), so I try to make sure to have the ingredients on hand for healthy salads, smoothies, and oatmeal bowls ready to be whipped up in mere minutes.
Supplements you could add to your protocol:
Perhaps one of the most popular supplements is echinacea purpurea. This supplement can speed recovery and reduce the duration of your cold. It is designed to be used as a short term booster for your immunity when you do get sick, not something you really can use long term. It helps keep the strep bacteria from burying in your throat and causing another yucky illness, strep throat.
*do not use if you're allergic to ragweed or plants in the sunflower family
*if you're interested in getting pregnant, it is advised against taking it as it can lower fertility
*if you're struggling with autoimmune issues or chronic/long term infections, do not use echinacea
*echinacea can interfere with breaking down certain prescription meds (ex. chemo drugs, lupus drugs, high blood pressure meds)
*also, echinacea reacts with prescription medications which react with grapefruit juice, so please check with your pharmacist or medical professional to see if your medicine is okay to take with echinacea
Astragalus is another popular supplement people take when faced with a cold. It is known as an overall body helper. Not only is it good for strengthening immunity, building up our body's natural resistance, and making our immune cells quicker and more efficient, its also good to help boost our body's metabolic activities and digestion.
*do not use if you have a fever or acute infection
*do not use with beta blockers, blood thinners, medications given after a heart attack because astragulus has blood thinning properties itself
*use with extreme caution if you have autoimmune issues or if your immune system is being suppressed in any way
Elderberry is one of the most effective supplements to prevent and treat upper respiratory infections. One of the best forms the body uses is Sambucol. It helps to promote sweating and can help break a fever. Elderberries come from a tree which is native to Europe. These berries can relieve congestion and sore throats from viruses. Inside the berries, there are these little fighters (technically called SNAs) who can help protect our human cells from being infected with viruses. These little fighters also can protect against up to 8 strains of the flu virus (note the flu shot usually only protects us from 1 to 3 strains of the virus!) This supplement usually comes in liquid form; but, it can come in capsule form and is often included in an immune support blend (Nature's Sunshine carries it as a blend with echinacea and vitamin d).
*do not use unprocessed berries
*munching on raw berries, when eaten in large quantities, can cause nausea/major digestive discomfort
*the stems are toxic
*sambucol is the best form to take in (our bodies process it better)
Other Things to Note:
*Eucalyptus essential oil--This oil can be diffused in the air or mixed with a carrier oil and spread on your chest (or bottoms of your feet) to help ease congestion and open up nasal passage
*Moderate exercise (gentle yoga, walking, etc) can help ease congestion and actually make you feel better!
*Get to bed earlier and get some rest whenever possible.
*Wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth/nose with your elbow when you sneeze. This will help stop the spread of the virus amongst your family and friends. My mom used to tell us as young kids, "Stay out of everyone's face who looks sick, acts sick, or says they are sick"....she was right! Keep a distance from others if you're sick, and if you're feeling bad, stay home from work! There are no medals given out for coming to work when you're at the height of your illness. Take care of yourself and be well! If there is anything I can help you with, please don't hesitate to let me know.
*These supplements are merely general suggestions. These statements aren't intended to diagnose, prescribe, or cure anything. If you have any questions about your specific needs (eg. interactions with medications, etc.), please contact your medical professional for further guidance.