You are reading Winter Well, our seasonal guide to taking care of body, mind and spirit during the winter months.
If you are reading this you are probably lightheaded, feeling groggy and looking at your appointment with a groan. Having a cold is never fun, but catching an illness just before Christmas is doubly frustrating.
Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure that will help you beat a cold in 24 hours, and typically, a cold tends to last for about a week. However, there are some best practices that will help you recover as quickly as possible.
Here’s what you need to know if you have to beat that snot to a deadline.
Get the basics right
The NHS say the following are key to faster cold recovery:
You can also ease aches or lower your temperature with pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and relieve a stuffy nose with decongestant sprays or tablets, which a pharmacist can advise you on.
‘Be careful not to use cough and cold medicine if you are taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets,’ adds the NHS. “Cough and cold medicines also often contain acetaminophen and ibuprofen, so it can be easy to take more than the recommended dose. Some are not suitable for children, babies and pregnant women.”
What to eat (and what to avoid)
There’s little evidence that supplements work to speed recovery from a cold, but feeding your body good food is never a bad idea to help you feel your best.
Dr. Dhaval Desai, director of hospital medicine at Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, previously told HuffPost that you should prioritize “good calories” when you have a cold.
She noted that good calories include high-protein foods (eggs, fish, chicken, Greek yogurt, peanut butter) and some carbohydrates for energy. He also recommended avoiding processed foods that don’t have much nutritional value, as well as caffeinated beverages.
Dr. Judith Flores, a New York pediatrician and medical expert for the National Hispanic Medical Association, added that you should stay away from alcohol, which can not only disrupt your sleep (which is important for recovery) but can also interfere with any over the counter medicines you are taking.
If you have a cough, honey can help soothe the symptoms. Studies have shown that honey can reduce coughs in children and adults, but remember that it is only appropriate for children older than one year.
Keep activities welcoming
Since rest is the best way to beat a cold fast, it’s wise to cancel any pre-Christmas plans you have if you want to feel better before the big day (your friends will even thank you for keeping your germs to yourself).
Give yourself permission to skip that workout and treat yourself to a nice, hot bath or extra-long shower. While the steamy environment won’t cure your cold, experts say a warm bath can help ease body aches, congestion, and headaches.
Winter requires us to take better care of ourselves and each other this time of year, from our health and homes to our mental space and matters of the heart. Whether you’re looking for motivation or hibernation, HuffPost UK’s Winter Well series is here to help through the short days and the longer months.