It often feels like colds are unavoidable this time of year. We head from warm houses to freezing cold buses and cars, into stuffy and often damp offices or schools and then back out into the cold to head home to the warmth. Germs love it.
In addition, most of us are still pretty worn out from the holiday season and perhaps haven’t been looking after ourselves quite as carefully as we should be. We are run down, overtired and in need of some serious nurturing. But do we get it? Often the answer is no as January can be one of the busiest months of the year. As a result, we pick up this cold or that cold or struggle with the lingering coughs they can leave behind.
So what are the top tips for preventing and treating colds? A new survey by leading decongestant experts, Olbas, prompted me to share some of mine.
Get enough sleep
Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours sleep each night. Are you getting enough?
Eat a healthy diet
Fresh, healthy, seasonal foods are vital to helping you stay cough and cold free.
My family and I take Echinacea, a herb reputed to help prevent infections, regularly during the cough and cold season as well as when we travel. A good multivitamin may be a good idea as well. Always check with your doctor or health care professional before using vitamins or supplements.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that may kill bacteria and fungi. I find it helps prevent and treat respiratory infections and often add a few drops to baths or in an out of the way corner of the shower (somewhere that you can’t slip on it) so I can breathe in the vapours while washing. I also add a few drops to my body cream before I apply it to my neck and chest area when I have a cold. Please note, tea tree oil is not safe to take by mouth nor is it recommended for use in the ears.
A few drops on a handkerchief can help clear congestion. Tuck the handkerchief into your pillowslip at night to aid restful sleep. There’s an Olbas Oil formula for children as well, which I used to find very helpful when our son was a little one.
Elderberries have antiviral properties that may help prevent and treat colds and flu. You can make your own Elderberry Syrup (there are a number of tutorials available online) or buy it in health food stores. My family and I find Elderberry Syrup can really help with the symptoms of a cold. Again, check with your doctor or health care professional before taking any supplements or remedies.
Drink lots of fluids – especially warm drinks and soup
Studies have shown that warm soup really can help with the symptoms of a cold. I also find herb teas really hydrating and helpful. Chamomile tea with honey can be really soothing when you have a cough.
NHS GP and Olbas cold expert, Dr Sarah Jarvis, shares her top tips to help keep colds at bay:
Stick to your side of the bed
You’re much more likely to catch a cold by spending hours in close contact with a sufferer.
Once you are sneezing, it may be too late
Colds are probably at their most contagious during the incubation period, the two days or so between being exposed to the virus and getting symptoms. Once you are sneezing, it’s about symptom relief rather than prevention.
Being congested is no laughing matter
Aromatic oils containing eucalyptus or menthol can relieve stuffinesss in the nose to help you breath easy.
You need propping up – literally!
Coughing is often worse at night – when you lie down, mucas drips onto your soft palate, stimulating your cough reflex. Make yourself a nest of pillows to prop you up a bit.
Thanks to Dr Sarah Jarvis and Olbas for these tips. Here’s hoping that we can all avoid as many colds and coughs as possible this year!
This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a health care professional. I am sharing tips that have worked for my family and I. I do not warrant their safety or efficacy.
I have not been compensated in any way for writing this post.
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