Have you caught a cold this winter? If not, then great! Make sure you keep those germs away by following my tips to staying healthy. But if you haven’t been so lucky, make sure you can get well and back on your feet as soon as possible, by following my best advice.
Tip one: Take all the time you need
Many people think that they can get over a cold in a few days. In reality it takes us about one to two weeks to fully recover. So, don’t try and do too much too quickly. If you do, you are more likely to get sick again and make other people sick!
Tip two: Drink lots of water
Your body needs to be hydrated so that it can fight off germs. You need to drink water – hot or cold. Light broths have nutritional and hydrating benefits, and herbal teas can increase your water intake and be soothing. Avoid sugary drinks or alcohol which will dehydrate you and have no nutritional benefit. But you could add lemon, honey and fresh ginger to warm water to loosen congestion and give you a boost of vitamin C.
Tip three: Eat well
We should be doing this all year round of course, but when you are unwell it is especially important. A balanced diet of vegetables, protein and carbohydrates will keep your energy up and give your body the nutrients it needs to fight infection. You might want to eat extra fruit and vegetables with vitamin C, which is known to help colds. Oranges are the most well known source, but did you know there is three times as much vitamin C in a cup of red capsicum than in an orange?
I know it is hard, because when we are sick we all want comfort food! So try and think of things that are both nutritious and comforting, like a big bowl of vegetable soup.
Tip four: Rest, rest, rest
Take advantage of the chance to put your feet up and nap! Your body needs it. You will have less energy and even simple tasks will be harder. So if you want to get over your cold quickly, you need to slow down.
Tip five: Keep clean
Germs can linger in the air longer than you think – especially in the cold weather. So you need to ensure that you are getting rid of germs that are in your home environment. Throw away used tissues as soon as you can. Wash your clothes and bed sheets regularly. This will mean you and your family are less likely to be reinfected.
Tip six: Stay away from people!
You may have good intentions and want to keep your promises to other people, but no one wants your germs! So, take time off work, and don’t go to your friend’s event whilst you are unwell. They will miss you for a few days, but they will thank you for it when they get through winter without catching your cold!
If you do have to see people, avoid touching – and encourage them to wash their hands well after seeing you.
If you are in a public place, you could wear a face mask. When you visit one of our health centres for an appointment, tell us if you are unwell and we will provide you with one or find somewhere for you to sit away from other clients so you don’t risk infecting each other.
Tip seven: Relieve your pain
There is no cure for the common cold, but you can relieve your pain and the symptoms, to make you more comfortable whilst you are recovering. You could consider some of the following:
- Gargling with salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 250ml warm water) to sooth a sore or itchy throat
- Sip hot liquids to relieve congestion and soothe inflamed throats – hot water with honey and lemon is an old favourite, but you could try steeping fresh grated ginger and turmeric in it too, for added anti-inflammatory benefits
- Use saline drops, or inhale eucalyptus to decongest your nose so you can breathe more easily
- Take warm baths (and wrap up warm afterwards)
- Take over the counter pain relievers and decongestants. Take medications only as directed. Some cold remedies contain multiple ingredients, so read the labels of cold medications you take to make sure you’re not taking too much of any medication.
Tip eight: Sneeze properly
Did you even know that there is a proper way to sneeze?! Put your arm in front of your face and sneeze into your inner elbow. This is the best way to trap your germs and stop them spreading. It is better than sneezing into a tissue, as there is a risk of getting germs on your hands and then touching things and allowing the germs to spread. If you do have to sneeze into a tissue, make sure you wash your hands immediately afterwards.
Tip nine: When you are recovered, get a flu shot
Once you have followed these steps and are healthy again, make sure you protect yourself from a worse virus – the flu. Book an appointment with me or another nurse by calling (03) 8470 1111 and get vaccinated against the flu.
Get well soon!