The common cold is the bane of civilization, caused by many different types of viruses that keep mutating to evade our bodies’ defenses, making us just sick enough to feel miserable but not sick enough not to be able to do the things we need to do. The common cold has probably been around as long as humans have, but we still don’t have a cure and aren’t likely to develop one any time soon.
It’s been said that a cold lasts seven days if you treat it and a week if you don’t, but the fact is, you can do a number of things to help your body heal faster. Dr. John Lewis and the team at Umbrella HealthCare in Phoenix, Arizona, have compiled a list of what to do when the common cold comes knocking.
Colds are viral infections of the upper respiratory tract (your nose and mouth). Although many different viruses can cause a cold, rhinoviruses (“viruses of the nose”) are the most common culprits.
The virus gains access to your body through your mouth, eyes, or nose and can spread to other people through droplets suspended in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
Colds also spread by hand-to-hand contact with someone who’s infected or by sharing contaminated objects, such as eating utensils, towels, or telephones. Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching the object makes it likely you’ll get infected yourself.
Symptoms usually appear 1-3 days after exposure to a cold-causing virus. They can vary from one person to another but usually include some combination of:
Nasal discharge may start out clear and become thicker and yellow or green as the virus runs its course. This is commonplace and doesn't usually mean you have a bacterial infection.
While nothing cures a common cold, there are things you can do and take to help alleviate the symptoms and shorten the amount of time you’re sick.
Hot tea with honey and lemon, water, chicken soup, and other liquids keep you hydrated, especially if you have a fever. They can also loosen chest and nasal congestion so you can breathe more comfortably.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol, though; both can leave you dehydrated and interfere with the sleep you need for recovery.
When you’re sick, your body needs as much rest as you can give it so it can marshall its forces to eradicate the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocates rest along with fluids to put you on the road to recovery.
A study published in 2015 showed that the probiotic Lactobacillus, L. casei 431 had no observable effect on the immune response to influenza (viral) vaccination, but it did reduce the duration of upper respiratory symptoms. More research using a wider variety of probiotics needs to be conducted to confirm this finding.
Another study, published in 2019, found that students who drank a small amount of beetroot juice seven times a day, especially if they had asthma, showed fewer cold symptoms than those who had not. Beetroot juice contains high levels of dietary nitrate, which increases the body’s production of nitric oxide, helping protect against respiratory infections.
While taking a vitamin C supplement won’t prevent you from getting a cold, studies show it may reduce its duration. A 2013 review of studies noted that regular supplements of 1 to 2 grams daily reduced the duration of a cold in adults by 8% and in children by 14%. It also reduced the severity of colds overall.
Want more tips on healing faster from the common cold? Contact Umbrella HealthCare by calling our office at 623-242-1389 or booking online with us today.