Ah, the dog days of winter have arrived, and as temperatures dip, millions of people in our country struggle to get through their week with a sore throat, runny nose, coughing, and fatigue. Perhaps you are one of those who are batting rhinovirus at this very minute. While there are many things that you can do to help your body recover from the common cold, there are also things that you might be doing that are making your cold worse. Are you doing any of these?
Not getting enough sleep
Sleep is essential, always, and even more so when your immune system is compromised, and you are battling a cold. Too many people continue to bustle through a cold, going to work and carrying on as if their body is running at full capacity. Burning the midnight oil and not giving your body the rest that it needs to repair and recharge can make your cold stick around for a long time. Sleep deprivation interferes with your immune system and impairs its ability to heal your body. One study found that getting less than seven hours of sleep can hamper the immune system.Other studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are more susceptible to the rhinovirus. Help your body help you by getting plenty of sleep each night. Better yet, if you can stay home and rest for a couple of days at the onset of a cold, you will find that you are back on your feet quicker than if you try to bull through it!
Not drinking enough water
It seems so simple, yet it is entirely one of the worst things you can do when you have a cold. A dehydrated body is an inefficient body and one that is not able to promote healing. Drinking at least eight glasses of water daily is instrumental in keeping viruses at bay and helping your immune system function at its best. When you are dehydrated, you hinder your body’s ability to keep infections at bay by limiting the secretion of antimicrobial proteins in saliva. So, drink up often and add some lemon to your water for additional immune-boosting power!
You keep smoking
Smoking is disastrous to your health and can exacerbate a cold and cough, making it hard to conquer even a simple common cold. According to Neelam Taneja- Uppal, MD, an infectious disease specialist, “When you smoke, you’re irritating and damaging your lungs.” When you have a cold, your lungs are working twice as hard to rid your body of the virus, and cigarette smoke interferes with their efforts.
You exercise too hard
Although it may not seem like a big thing, pushing your body too hard when you have a cold can interfere with healing and even make your cold worse. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that a moderate workout is best when it comes to fighting the common cold. So, what does this mean? It means, no need to do your high-intensity workouts. Instead, take a brisk walk or participate in some other moderate exercise instead until your cold goes away.
You take antibiotics
The common cold hits, and you reach for some leftover antibiotics in your medicine cabinet. This move, not so smart. Antibiotics are medications that are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. The common cold, or rhinovirus is, as the name says, caused by a virus. Taking antibiotics will not work on the common cold, and even worse, taking them unnecessarily can make your body resistant to them if you may need them in the future for a bacterial infection.
You blow your nose with excessive force
Although it may feel good to get all that gunk out of your nasal cavities, excessive force when blowing your nose is actually counterproductive. According to research published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, blowing your nose with super force can actually send mucus into the sinuses and cause a sinus infection. Instead, blow gently, clearing one nostril at a time.
You cough into your hand
Your mother had good intentions when she told you to cough into your hand when in public. However, this instinct, which may have carried over into your adulthood, is actually worse than just coughing it out freely. The rhinovirus lives longer on surfaces, like your hand, than it does in the air. You are more likely to spread the virus if you cough all over your hand than if you just freely cough. To cough discreetly as possible, simply turn your head away from people or down towards the ground. Better yet, stay home until you are better!
You eat sweets
While eating a few sweet treats when you don’t feel good may be tempting, try to stay clear of sugary foods as long as you have a cold. Sugar is a pro inflammatory food that can cause a depressed immune system as it weakens white blood cells that are responsible for keeping us well. If you crave sweets, try natural fruit instead, such as oranges that are loaded with healthy fiber and immune-boosting vitamins and minerals.In addition, add raw honey to a cup of warm lemon water for a sugary boost that won’t compromise your immune system.
You wash your hands too much
That’s right; you can definitely overwash your hands. It is important to wash your hands regularly during cold and flu season to keep bacteria at bay, but excessive washing can weaken your immune system making you more prone to getting sick and prolonging the common cold.A study out of the University of Michigan School of Public Health has found that kids who have higher levels of chemicals found in soap in their system are more likely to have allergies. In addition, this study also proves the “hygiene hypothesis,” a theory that states that living in too clean of an environment can cause harm to your immune system and keep your body from properly fighting infections and viruses. So, of course, wash your hands after using the bathroom and after shaking hands with people who are ill…this is important. However, don’t be a hand washing fanatic, that is just not going to do you any good at all!
-The Alternative Daily