6 Ways to Kill a Cold Before it Starts

April 29, 2014
by Michael Barber
6 Ways to Kill a Cold Before it Starts

Perhaps the most annoying thing about the common cold is right there in its name: it's common. Once, twice, or even more often each year, you can count on one of the 200 viruses associated with the common cold to strike. While it's a good idea to practice prevention, like washing your hands frequently and maintaining a nutritious diet, there are also some ways you can stop a cold from becoming unmanageable when prevention fails. If you feel like a bout of the sniffles are on their way, try some of these self-care tips.

Related: Flu Shot Pros and Cons

1. Rest

A cold's worst enemy is a strong immune system and your body is never better at fighting invaders than when you're asleep. At the first signs of a cold, get to bed and let your body rest as long as it wants. For extra-restful nights, try sleeping with your head slightly elevated to combat nasal congestion.

2. Hydration

Water is the building block of life. Every vital system in your body needs water to function properly and you'll be using up more water than normal as your body fights illness. Make a glass of water or a cup of tea a constant fixture when you feel a cold coming on.

Related: Are You Drinking Enough Water? Probably Not!

3. Humidity

Along with the staying hydrated, you'll also want to make sure the air around you while you're sick isn't too dry. Sneezing, blowing your nose, and sweating will be a part of your healing experience, so as your body dries out you may have discomfort on your skin and in your nasal passages. A humidifier will combat those problems passively.

4. Nutritious Food

That old saying, "Starve a fever, feed a cold" has plenty of truth to it. When a cold has invaded your body, the last thing it wants is to face a strong, vitamin-rich immune system. If you're feeling sick, eat hearty, nutritious meals that will give your body the fuel it needs to fight the invasion. This is especially true of energy-bolstering nutrients like Vitamin C, common in citrus and many other kinds of produce.

5. Reduce Stress

Stress and anxiety can exacerbate a cold by putting additional strain on your blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital systems. A little cold can grow into a real knock-out if you succumb to stress while your immune system is on high alert. Avoid stressful environments and do whatever you need to do to relax so your body can fight in optimal conditions.

Related: Don't Pull Your Hair Out! Here are 4 Healthy Ways to Cope With Stress

6. See a Doctor

The common cold only lives in an otherwise healthy body for a few days, but it can weaken your immune system and open you up to additional complications like sinus infections, ear infections, and bronchitis. If you have a history of problems like these or if your cold persists for a longer time than normal, you'll want to consult with a physician to prevent or treat infections that tagged along with your cold.

Related: Afraid of Germs? Use These Tips to Survive the Cold & Flu Season

As frustratingly as colds are, a little extra self-care will make sure you get back into fighting shape when the sniffles come around. The key is to give your body the best conditions possible for the ensuing battle.