How to Recover From Colds and Flu Faster

When you've got a bad cold or flu, taking time off to rest helps your body to recover faster. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

When you’ve got a bad cold or flu, taking time off to rest helps your body to recover faster. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Colds and flu don’t have a cure, but there are things you can do to get over them more quickly. Here are 10 of them (via Prevention.com):

  1. Determine which virus you have. While cold symptoms are mostly respiratory, flu can be accompanied by fever, aches, chills and fatigue. If you think you have the flu, your doctor can write a prescription for an antiviral medication like Tamiflu, which can shave days off of your illness if you take it within the first 48 hours of symptoms.
  2. Rest and hydrate. Drinking water will thin the mucus secretions in your lungs, and rest helps your body fight off illness more effectively.
  3. Drink hot tea. All kinds of tea contain theophylline, which dilates the bronchi and bronchioles, reducing resistance in your airways. For an extra boost, add a teaspoon of honey. Honey soothes scratchy throats, and its antioxidants help fight off infections.
  4. Consider taking over-the-counter medication for specific pains. Ibuprofen, aspirin or acetaminophen can relieve body aches and fever. For temporary cough relief, look for a product that contains the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. For congestion, search for guaifenesin, an expectorant that can help dislodge mucus, or pseudoephedrine, which works to relieve stuffy noses by constricting blood vessels.
  5. Take ginseng and zinc. Ginseng supports healthy levels of white blood cels and key immune system proteins called interleukins. Zinc is necessary for your body to produce white blood cells, which fight germs. However, it’s important to keep you zinc intake lower than 50 mg to avoid suppressing your immune system.
  6. Eat chicken soup. The amino acid cysteine released from chicken during cooking thins mucus and calms the symptoms of a stuffy nose and cough.
  7. Breathe in steam. Inhaling warm and moist air can thin and loosen mucus, providing congestion relief. Create a mini steam bath by leaning over a bowl of hot water, or enjoy a hot shower or bath, which can soothe achy muscles, too.
  8. Don’t spread it. Cover your mouth with a tissue or your shirtsleeve to avoid passing the illness to others.
  9. Call in sick. When you have a bad cold or flu, your body needs time to rest, and stress can make your symptoms worse. So take time off and use it to relax.
  10. Wash your hands like it’s your job. Once you’re on the mend, avoid picking up new germs by washing your hands as often as you can stand it. Scrub for 20 seconds or more to remove illness-carrying germs.
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