With millions of cases of the common cold reported each year, colds are the number one reason that children miss school and adults miss work. In addition to pesky symptoms such as congestion, sneezing and sore throats, colds can be costly. Lost time at work, doctor’s visits and cold remedies adds up to a billion dollar industry in the U.S.
With that in mind, what are the most effective steps in preventing a cold? And once a cold starts, how can we treat it in an effective way?
These tips can help prevent a cold and avoid expensive trips to the doctor or prescription medication:
- Add moisture to your home: Germs travel faster in colder, less-humid environments. When your home is dry from the heat, it’s a breeding ground for cold germs. Experts recommend using a humidifier in your home if the air is overly dry. Humidifiers are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
- Treat your nasal passages: Your chances of getting sick are increased when your nasal passages are dry. Saline nasal spray flushes out mucus and bacteria, while keeping nasal passages moist. You can also try a neti pot. This device helps keep sinuses irrigated and may help ward off colds.
- Exercise: Experts agree that exercise boosts the immune cells throughout your body, which is important for preventing colds.
- Sleep: Get plenty of rest, especially during cold season, to keep your immune system strong.
- Hand washing: Washing your hands thoroughly throughout the day is one of the best ways to prevent catching a cold this season. Remember to wash your hands after touching particularly germy items such as the refrigerator handle, remote controls and doorknobs.
If you’ve already developed cold symptoms, don’t despair. Check out these effective tips for treating a cold:
- Throat lozenges: Black currant, in particular, contains gamma-linoleic acid, a fatty acid that soothes the throat and decreases inflammation. This type of throat lozenges might be more effective in fighting sore throats associated with the common cold.
- Healthy foods: Try incorporating buckwheat honey into your diet. This honey is high in antioxidants and iron and filled with immune-boosting power. Chicken soup is an age-old remedy with anti-inflammatory effects that may help soothe a sore throat. Inhaling the steam from the soup may help clear nasal passages, too.
- Tea: Try one with medicinal mushrooms and help stop germs before they take over.
- Turmeric: This yellow spice is a disease-fighter against bacteria and viruses. It’s a good source of manganese and potassium, and both help overall immunity.
- Vitamin C and zinc: Check with your doctor or pharmacist regarding supplements such as vitamin C and zinc. They might be helpful in fighting the common cold.
By practicing sound prevention and treatment options, you can effectively tackle the common cold this season.
If you do require cold or flu medication this winter, remember that the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card may help you save money on these prescriptions. For a FREE card, visit www.familywize.org/card or download a free card in the App Store.