One of the main differences between a cold and the more severe flu virus is that with a cold, your symptoms arrive gradually. Detecting early symptoms of the cold can prevent the spread of the virus and possibly help you treat the illness before it gets worse.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign that a cold is on the way:
- Sore Throat – This is one of the most common early symptoms of a viral infection. Some viruses can actually cause a swollen throat without a cough. In the earliest stages of the flu, your throat may feel scratchy and irritated. You may also feel a strange sensation when you swallow food or drinks
- Tiredness – Feeling weak and tired is a symptom of most viruses. Sudden, excessive fatigue is one of the earliest signs of a cold, and it may appear before other symptoms
- Runny Nose – You will start to notice mucus building up in your nose. This will start off fairly thin and watery, but as your cold progress it can get thicker, so make sure you keep a pack of tissues handy.
- Coughs and Sneezes – This is your body’s way of trying to get rid of anything that can damage your airways, such as dust, pollen or – in this case – viruses.
- Headache – As mucus begins to build up, it clogs your sinuses and creates pressure that leads to a dull, throbbing headache.
Once these symptoms start, there’s no way to avoid your cold. It’s coming, so all you can do is make the best of it. Here’s how
During flu season, protecting yourself from viruses is a top priority. Virus can spread through saliva droplets that are projected when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can reach people and surfaces up to 6 feet away. You can be exposed by breathing air containing these droplets or by touching objects that these droplets have landed on.
What can you do?
There’s famously no cure for the common cold, but there are few things you can do to manage the worst of it and shorten your recovery time. Let’s take a look at your options:
Don’t forget the fluids
Water will help your immune system fight against any infection, so it’s important to stay hydrated as soon as you suspect a cold. Drinking plenty of water and infusions will help you replace any fluids lost from constantly blowing your nose or sweating.
Steam is another good way to achieve this. A hot shower will help clear your airways and provide the relaxation you need to distract yourself from your symptoms.
Avoid junk food
If you’re feeling poorly, it can be tempting to gorge on your favourite comfort foods to help you feel better..
High-fat diets have been shown to slow down your immune system’s response to infection, which will make it harder to fight off infections such as a cold. You need the nutrients provided by a balanced diet to help your recovery.
However, don’t be tempted to try a crash diet, as these have also been shown to reduce your immune system function. You should also remember that not all fat is bad. Some, such as the fats you get from oily fish and nuts, are an important part of your diet regardless of whether or not you have a cold.
Keep your nose clean
Using a saline nasal spray right after cold symptoms first appear may reduce their impact, studies suggest.
Chicken soup is the most commonly-prescribed; in fact any broth-based soup will help you feel a little better. It’ll warm you up and we’ve already discussed how water and steam can help with your symptoms.
If you’re coming down a cold, chili peppers can ease congestion and reduce swelling around your nose and throat. It’ll also help make your mucus thin enough for your body to cough or sneeze it away.
Honey and lemon
If a sore throat is your most troublesome symptom, honey and lemon is the way to go. It won’t necessarily speed up your recovery, but you’ll feel a lot less miserable now that your throat doesn’t feel like sandpaper! Try homemade honey, lemon and ginger tea, packed full of natural ingredients and an added dose of steam to help clear your airways.
Get some good rest
When all’s said and done, resting is one of the best ways to help your body shake off a cold. As tiredness is a symptom of a cold, going about your usual routine is only going to make this worse.
For the sake of you and your colleagues, it’s best that you stay home.You’re not at your best if you have a cold, so you’re unlikely to produce your best work. On top of that, you’re potentially spreading a contagious virus around the office, something no one is going to thank you for!
Other preventive measures include:
- avoid close contact with sick people
- cover your cough to protect others
- wash your hands
- limit how frequently you touch your mouth or nose