Colds and flu share many symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, influenza viruses circulate year-round, but most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia. Whether you’ve got the common cold or the flu, here’s what you can do to get better faster.
Get enough rest
- When you’re sick, your body works hard to fight off infection. It needs more energy to help you heal. Rest as much as you can and put your daily routine on hold until you feel better.
- Get more sleep. Try to get to bed at an earlier time and do take naps during the day. If you have trouble sleeping at night because your nose is congested, try using a second pillow. A chopped up onion in the room can also help to ease congestion.
Increase your fluid intake
- Drink plenty of water to thin your mucus and break up congestion. Water also prevents the headaches and fatigue that dehydration causes. Skip caffeinated sodas, coffee, and alcohol, which can dry you out.
- Opt for non-caffeinated herbal tea, lemon water, or warm broth. Because, yes, your mother was right: chicken soup reduces inflammation in your body and eases some of your aches.
- Gargling with salt water will soothe a throbbing throat. The salt water eases swelling and loosens mucus. Stir one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water until it’s dissolved, and gargle a few times a day.
- Try eating a spoonful of honey. Honey can coat your throat and soothe a cough. You can also add honey to a cup of herbal tea or lemon water.
- The steam in a hot shower will moisten a scratchy throat and loosen your congestion. The hot water will also relax any aching muscles.
- Doctors usually recommend acetaminophen. If you’re taking another cold medicine, though, check that it doesn’t contain this drug because you don’t want to take too much at one time.
- Suck lozenges to soothe a sore throat. They have herbs and other ingredients that can ease the stinging.
- Tyr a decongestant for stuffiness. A decongestant will shrink blood vessels in your nose so your airways can open up. Watch out though because using decongestant sprays and drops too much can actually cause more congestion. Don’t use them for more than 3 days.
- Antihistamines will dry up a runny nose. This drug blocks the chemical in your body that causes sneezes and sniffling.
- Use a saline spray. Saltwater sprays make your nostrils moist and this makes it easier to blow your nose so you can breathe easier. You can make a saltwater solution by mixing one cup of distilled or cooled, boiled water and half a teaspoon of salt.
Try these steps and you should be feeling well soon!