Despite all your precautions this holiday season, you begin to sniffle and feel unusually tired. The first thing to do is get tested for COVID-19. If that test comes back negative, you may be dealing with the onset of a bothersome cold. Unfortunately, once a cold starts, there is little you can do to stop its progression, but there are ways to manage your symptoms.
Dr. Cory Fisher, a family physician at the Cleveland Clinic, explains that the common cold is a viral infection of the upper and lower respiratory tracts involving the nose, sinuses, throat, and chest. He tells Parade the most common symptoms are a scratchy or sore throat, nasal congestion with a runny nose and fever.
“Later symptoms often include sinus pressure, headache and cough,” he says. He recommends laying low when you have a cold and avoiding contact with others. Follow standard recommendations like drinking lots of water to stay hydrated and getting rest.
Dr. Tania Elliott, an internal medicine physician at NYU Langone Health, says that eating a bowl of chicken soup may help.
“A small study did show that chicken soup can actually mobilize neutrophils which are a key component of your immune system to fight infection. So, there may be something to that old adage!” she says. Elliot adds that most colds last five to seven days and are self-limiting, which means they go away on their own.
But in the meantime, here are some tips and supplements you can use to make your miserable cold more bearable:
• Take zinc lozenges. Dr Melinda Ring, an internal medicine specialist at Northwestern Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in Chicago, says that clinical research shows taking zinc gluconate or zinc acetate lozenges containing 9 to 24 milligrams of zinc per dose can significantly reduce the duration of a cold. Take a dose every two waking hours starting within 48 hours of your initial symptoms for a total daily dose of 75 mg. Don’t take zinc longer than two weeks and avoid intranasal zinc that’s been linked to permanent loss of smell.
• Stock up on vitamin C. Ring recommends taking 2000 mg of this powerful antioxidant and immune-boosting vitamin daily. “Evidence favors a beneficial effect of high doses of vitamin C orally by cutting the duration of colds by one-and-a-half days,” she tells Parade.
• Take elderberry syrup or capsules. A 2019 meta-analysis of four studies found that taking black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) effectively cut the duration and severity of upper respiratory symptoms compared to a placebo. Ring says that air travelers who took elderberry capsules reduced the duration of their colds by two days and experienced a 58% reduction in severity of symptoms
• Try andrographis. This herb used in Ayurvedic medicine is known as an adaptogen and may lessen the severity of symptoms of the common cold when taken within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. Ring says it may also prevent getting ill. Andrographis seems to improve cough and sore throat in some people with the common cold, according to WebMD. “Start it early and take for at least four to five days of treatment for maximum symptom relief,” says Ring.
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