What to Do When You Have a Cold

What to Do When You Have a Cold

A common cold is an infection that affects your nose and throat.

But, how does the common cold affect your body?

A virus causes the common cold.

This virus is spread through the air and can also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces.

When the virus enters your body, it attacks your cells and replicates.

The replication process causes your cells to release chemicals that signal your immune system to respond.

Your immune system will try to clear the virus from your body by producing antibodies.

Antibodies are proteins that destroy viruses or mark them for destruction by other cells.

The process of producing antibodies takes time, which is why you may not feel the effects of the cold immediately.

During the first few days of a cold, you may experience symptoms such as a sore throat, a runny nose, sneezing, or a cough.

Other symptoms may include a headache, fatigue, joint pain, or a fever.

Most people recover from a cold within a week or two, but some people may experience symptoms for longer. (1, 2)

There are a few things you can do to help relieve your symptoms and speed up the recovery process. 

So what to do when you have a cold?

1. Get plenty of rest

Getting plenty of rest is important when you’re sick.

Your body needs time to recover, and resting will help you feel better.

In fact, sleep helps your body fight infection and can also improve your mood.

Aim for at least eight hours of sleep per night.

If you can’t sleep, try lying down in a dark, quiet room and listening to soothing music or reading a book.

2. Drink lots of fluids

Drinking fluids is important when you’re sick.

Fluids will help to prevent dehydration, and they can also help to thin mucus.

Aim to drink eight glasses of water per day or more if you’re sweating a lot or have diarrhea.

You can also drink herbal tea, lemon water, juices, or clear soups.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you.

3. Gargle salt water

Gargling salt water can help to relieve a sore throat.

Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle it for a few minutes.

Spit the water out after gargling.

Salt water can also help to thin mucus and relieve congestion.

4. Drink hot liquids

Another thing you can do when you have a cold is to drink hot liquids.

Hot water, tea, or soup can help to soothe your throat and provide relief from congestion.

If your throat is particularly sore, you can add honey to your hot tea or soup.

Honey has antibacterial properties that can help to fight the infection.

Just be sure not to give honey to children under the age of one.

What to Do When You Have a Cold

5. Use a humidifier

Using a humidifier can also help to relieve congestion.

The moist air will help to loosen mucus and make it easier to breathe.

Just be sure to keep the humidifier clean to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.

You can also try putting a bowl of water on your nightstand and breathing in the steam.

Doing this for a few minutes each day can help to clear your sinuses.

6. Take an OTC medication

Take over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or decongestants. 

These medicines can help to relieve pain, reduce fever, and unclog your nose.

Just be sure to follow the directions on the packaging.

You should also avoid giving aspirin to children or teenagers, as it can increase the risk of Reye’s syndrome.

If you’re pregnant, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any medication.

The takeaway

So what to do when you have a cold?

There are a few things you can do to help yourself feel better and to speed up the healing process.

Rest, drink fluids, gargle salt water, drink hot liquids, use a humidifier, and take over-the-counter medications.

If your symptoms persist or get worse, be sure to talk to your doctor.

Keep in mind that colds are caused by viruses, which means that antibiotics won’t help.