It’s that time of year again where colds and flu start to do the rounds and it seems that no matter how much we try to avoid them, sooner or later we can’t seem to escape catching a bout of cold or flu. Colds and flu are caused by viral infections and are highly contagious. These viruses are easily spread by coughing or sneezing. It is advisable to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing to help avoid spreading the virus, as the virus can survive for several hours on things that you touch such as doorknobs, telephones, keyboards etc.
Although there is still no cure for the common cold, there are plenty of things you can do to help combat its effects and fight it off sooner rather than later.
A healthy balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will help to strengthen your immune system. Having a strong immune system will not only help to fight off infection, but will help to lessen your chance of catching a cold in the first place.
Once you have a cold, there are many ways in which you can help yourself:
- Eat plenty of fruit. Fruit gives you plenty of vitamin C which helps to lower the severity of a cold.
- Eat foods rich in zinc. It is believed that zinc could help to shorten the length of a cold. Foods rich in zinc include onions, garlic, eggs, and red meat.
- Garlic is thought to be particular useful, as it also has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
- The herb Basil may also be useful as it is believed to help relieve cold-related headaches.
- Some people find hot and spicy foods, such as curries or meals that include chillies, helpful as can help to sweat it out.
- If you find it difficult to eat much when you have a cold, try eating soups, which are easier to digest.
- Drink plenty of fluids (6-8 glasses a day) to help avoid dehydration.
- Try adding lemon juice to a cup of hot water to increase your vitamin C intake.
- If you have sore throat, try adding a teaspoon of honey to a cup of hot water to help sooth your sore throat.
- Try a steam inhaler to help clear blocked sinuses. To do this, half fill a bowl with hot water, drape a towel over your head, and inhale the steam for a few minutes. You could even add a drop or two of eucalyptus oil to the hot water to help with decongesting.
- Allow yourself to rest to give your body time to recuperate.