March 07, 2017
YOU MAY THINK that with winter drawing to a close, the cold season is over, but unfortunately, the sniffles are nearly as common in spring. Cold symptoms, like a runny nose, sore throat, sneezing and coughing, leave you feeling drained and make you want to curl up and hibernate.
We’ve got some tips on how to beat a cold so you can get out and enjoy the “balmy” weather, plus what to do while you’re waiting to feel better.
Often, the only way to get rid of a cold is to wait it out. The common cold is caused by a viral infection, and while there are more than 400 viruses that can cause cold symptoms, the most common type is rhinovirus. Viruses don’t respond to antibiotics, so there really isn’t a drug that can get rid of colds. However, there are things you can do to minimize the effects and shorten the duration of a cold so you can get back on your feet.
The best “medicine” to get rid of a cold is not a drug, but rather sleep. Not getting enough sleep weakens your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness and making it harder to fight it off when you do get sick. The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Here are some other ways to take good care of your immune system so it can take good care of you:
It’s hard to sleep when you feel like you can barely breathe. If your cold turns into a sinus infection, the sinus cavities in your face become inflamed and can block one or both nostrils. There are a few natural ways to relieve the pressure so you can breathe. Propping the head of your bed by stuffing a pillow or two under the mattress can help your sinuses drain. You can also use saline solutions, such as a spray or neti pot rinse, to clean out your sinus cavities and keep them moist, reducing the bacteria causing your sinusitis. If you believe your cold has turned into sinusitis, see your doctor. While antibiotics don’t work on the common cold virus, they can help against a bacterial infection, which is often the root of sinusitis.
While you’re waiting for your cold to run its course, there are tons of over-the-counter cold medicines on the market to help combat a wide variety of symptoms. “PM” cold formulations include medicine to help you sleep, usually an antihistamine. US News & World Report polled pharmacists on their top recommendations for nighttime cold medicine. Ny-Quil came out on top, recommended by one-third of pharmacists polled, followed by Tylenol Cold Multi-Symptom Nighttime and Delsym Cough + Cold Nighttime. Robitussin Nighttime came in fourth. Check with your doctor before taking these, because they can interact with certain prescription drugs like blood pressure medication.
The best thing you can do for a cold is to manage your symptoms just enough to get adequate sleep. Too much over-the-counter medication can actually backfire by suppressing your immune system. With some sensible self-care and lots of rest, you’ll be ready to tiptoe through the tulips before you know it.