4 Ways to Cut the Duration of Your Cold
At our house, back to school means back to kids bringing home germs. When the leaves start turning, I start reaching for my cough drops, feeling that all too familiar tickle in my throat. If I can, I try to drink tons of water, wash my hands like crazy, and keep the bug from taking hold. But once I know I’m past the point of no return, the following things can help cut the duration of my cold and get me back to my busy life.
Sleep Helps You Heal
You probably know this already: one of you body’s first ways of signaling that all is not right internally is to make you very tired and sluggish. Don’t fight this feeling! Take a day or two off of work, if need be. Sleeping early and often during a cold can significantly cut the duration and intensity of a common cold. Sleeping allows your body to rest and recuperate—taking 10 hours of rest now could save you days down the line. Chances are you’ll pass out right away, but if you have trouble getting good sleep (particularly if your cold symptoms include coughing and congestion) put yourself in a dark, cool room with a white noise machine and a high-quality humidifier.
Avoid catchall cold medications that are high in alcohol. Even though these drugs might seem like they’re helping you pass out, what you need is good quality, REM sleep. Alcohol can disrupt your natural, restorative sleep patterns and leave you feeling groggy. If you’re certain you need some assistance with sleeping, some people swear by melatonin as a natural sleep aid.
Exercise (Even If You Don’t Feel Like It)
So, you’ve succumbed to a cold, you’ve slept a solid 8 hours and you’re still feeling under the weather. You should definitely skip your workout today, right? Wrong! Even though the LAST thing you probably feel like doing is slogging through your exercise routine, you don’t want to flake out altogether. Movement and respiration actually speed up the healing process (doctors believe working out causes immune cells to respond to and attack viruses at a faster rate). But instead of doing your normal intensity workout, try doing light cardio such as walking or even speed walking. Listen to your body—if it feels like you can do more, push yourself a little. If you fell like you want to die, dial it back. And of course, it’s not polite to spread germs at the gym, so taking a walk outdoors or at least avoiding a community treadmill is much appreciated.
Give Zinc a Chance
Zinc, which helps boost the immune system, can shorten the duration of the common cold by nearly 50 percent. Studies have not been able to show exactly how Zinc fights the common cold, but research shows that it does work. Zinc has antiviral properties and provides relief from some common cold symptoms such as sore throat. Zinc in lozenge form is the most convenient to use while you have a cold, and it’s available online or at most drugstores.
Studies show that Zinc supplements could also help keep your immune system strong while you’re healthy, potentially staving off more colds. You might think about incorporating these supplements into your everyday vitamin routine.
Remember, Time Heals All
Though it can sometimes feel like your cold will last forever, remember that even if none of the above seems to be helping, your cold will eventually go away. If your symptoms persist for more than 10 days or seem to be intensifying, you should visit your doctor to get a professional assessment.