Health Care

11 Things You Can Do to Make a Cold Less Miserable

Sometimes a bad cold stops you in your tracks, but these tricks can help you ride out a cold in comfort.

By Lisa Marie Conklin

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Power up your immune system
According to Brent A. Bauer, MD, on the Mayo Clinic’s website, several recent studies have shown that zinc lozenges or syrup can reduce the length of a cold by one day. That seems pretty comforting: knowing you could be back to normal a little faster if you take a zinc supplement the first sign of a cold. “Zinc is necessary for the immune system to perform, so yes, you can definitely up the dose during the onset of a cold,” says Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, author of Smart Fat: Eat More Fat. Lose More Weight. Get Healthy Now. Of course, you should always check with your doctor first to make sure it won’t interfere with any of your medications. Check out these other 12 habits that boost your immune system.

Have a good friend or partner who can bring some warmth and compassion to your sofa side? A 2009 study from the University of Wisconsin showed that empathy can shorten the duration of your cold. Doctors were put to the test and patients rated their bedside manner. With doctors who scored perfectly on a 10-question Consultation and Relational Empathy (CARE), patients were sick one less day. The patients who experienced the most empathetic care had double the levels of IL-8, a protein molecule the body releases to help fight off a common cold. Comfort in the form of empathy really does seem to help you feel better! Find out here how doctors avoid getting colds.

Souped up on vitamin C
A National Institute of Health study found that taking vitamin C can reduce a cold. Vitamin C pills can be hard to swallow when your sick and while orange juice goes down easy, it can irritate your tummy if you haven’t been eating much. A more delicious way to boost your vitamin C intake could be with ZÜPA NOMA soup. The Organic Yellow Pepper Habanero flavor boosts a whopping 370 percent of your DRI of vitamin C. The soup may help numb and soothe a sore throat and the slightly spicy pepper can help open stuffy airways. And steer clear of the foods and drink that could make your cold or flu worse.

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Laugh it up
Having a cold is hardly a comedy fest but a 2010 study stated that having a good laugh activates protective T-cells and increases antibody production. Laughter also has positive effect on regulating components of the immune system, including an increased production of antibodies and protective cells, like the T-cells. Check our list of the 100 funniest movies of all time. Short attention span? Try check out Time’s list of the 50 best YouTube videos.

Light a candle
You definitely want to amp up the cozy factor when you’re fighting a cold. Harsh overhead lighting doesn’t give you a cozy feeling like a candle does. Not only will candles give you a glowing and relaxing atmosphere, they could boost some immune properties in your body. “Pure essential oils have a long history of use in Europe for their antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties,” says BJ Adrezin, MD, chief medical advisor to BōKUInternational. “Inhaling pure essential oils can be a great support in preventing or treating the common cold, which is a virus.” The BōKU Immune Candle was inspired by the Four Thieves Oil legend during the Plague epidemic of the 15th century. Legend has it the thieves who were stealing from the dead didn’t get sick because they doused themselves and their clothes with a combination of essential oils, including eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, and lemon. You’ll enjoy a warm glow and be better able to smell the pleasant of aroma of peppermint, eucalyptus and lemon. Just be sure not to use it in your bedroom if you’re feeling sleepy.

Ensure a good night’s sleep
It’s hard to sleep when you’re stuffed up or coughing. According to WebMD, your sinuses will drain better if your head is raised to promote drainage. Problem is, propping up pillows bends your neck in a way that can actually make it harder to breathe. Grab that empathetic friend and have them help you raise the head of your bed instead. Place large books or something sturdy under the legs of your headboard and secure them to create a more natural incline. Ahh, sleepy town awaits.

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Get a gargle you’ll actually use
Having a sore throat makes the common cold even more miserable when you can’t swallow chicken noodle soup or sip a cup of hot tea. Gargling salt water is confusing. (How much salt to water?) Raj Dasgupta MD, University of Southern California’s Keck Medicine, division of pulmonary medicine and a regular on the syndicated television show The Doctors, recommends Nature’s Jeannie Gargle Away Advanced Throat Care is available for your single-serve brewing machine or single serve pack to mix with hot water. “The unique blend of germ-fighting, pain-relieving, and highly soothing ingredients is equally powerful providing symptomatic relief you won’t find in traditional home remedy gargles,” says Dr. Dasgupta.

Pamper your schnoz
If you blow your nose a few more times you could be at your goal weight—or at least it seems that way with all the mucus leaving your body. But instead, your nose gets swollen, red, and chapped. A rough and thinly lined tissue just makes matters worse because you get the slimy stuff on your hands. Try a tissue with lotion like Puffs Plus Lotion Facial Tissues. You can also dab a little Aquaphor balm under and around your nostrils. Don’t forget to tuck some tissues in your pocket the next time you go outside in cold weather. Here’s why your nose runs when it’s cold.

Look for the right lozenge
With so many lozenges available, it’s difficult to choose which one will be soothing and taste decent. Dara Huang, MD, a Manhattan-based physician specializing in nephrology and hypertension and founder of New York Culinary Medicine has some suggestions to narrow down the choices. “While menthol, found in Hall’s cough drops can soothe the throat, medicated lozenges such as Cepacol or Chloraseptic lozenges also contain benzocaine, a numbing medication,” says Huang. If the medicine taste isn’t tolerable, Ricola is more pleasant and has fewer unnatural ingredients. Dr. Huang suggests adding lozenges to a cup of hot water and letting it dissolve for a soothing cup of comfort.

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Chicken and veggie soup
There is something comforting about curling up on the sofa and wrapping your hands around a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup. The hot fluid keeps your nasal passages moist, loosens mucus, and keeps you hydrated. A University of Nebraska study showed chicken vegetable soup reduced the activity of neutrophils, which can cause cold symptoms. (Get the whole bowl of scientific facts on why chicken soup is good for colds.) Chicken vegetable soup is readily available but a lot of soup is high in sodium. Eating a can of soup can contain up to 75 percent or more of your daily recommended salt intake. Choose a low-sodium variety that has plenty of hearty vegetables and chicken and be careful of these other foods high in sodium.

Trifecta comfort
Dr. Huang says one of the best ways to ride out a cold besides getting plenty of rest is to drink warm soothing fluids like tea. Some teas are better suited for our immune system than others. Take ginger turmeric herbal tea from the Spice and Tea Exchange, for example.”Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and other benefits,” says Dr Huang. Turmeric is rich in curcumin and volatile oils that can help your cold from getting worse. If you can’t drink tea without a sweetener try honey and make this combo a trifecta of comfort. Honey has antioxidant, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties which work on your behalf when you have a cold.

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