Typically caused by a type of virus called rhinovirus, the common cold can leave you feeling congested and run-down. While there’s no way to cure a cold once you are infected, there are some things you can do to reduce symptoms and speed recovery. Here is your best defense against a budding cold.
1. Reduce stress. When we are stressed, we subject our body to hormones that promote increased inflammation. Research has linked stress to reduced immune function. If you feel a cold coming on, you may be able to reduce its severity if you avoid stress as much as possible.
2. Get plenty of sleep. Studies have also shown that poor sleep can jeopardize immune function. Not only can this leave you more susceptible to an illness, it can worsen symptoms if you do get sick. Be sure to prioritize sleep by going to bed and getting up at the same times every day, even on weekends. You should also avoid caffeine, alcohol and other sleep disruptors.
3. Stay hydrated. Your body can’t mount a strong defense against a cold unless it is properly hydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of clear fluids and avoid anything with alcohol or caffeine, which both promote dehydration.
4. Eat fruits and vegetables. Contrary to popular belief, studies have found no evidence that Vitamin C supplements have any effect on a cold. That said, you can strengthen your immune response by eating a healthy diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables.
What About Zinc?
According to the Mayo Clinic, come studies suggest you may be able to reduce the duration of a cold by taking zinc lozenges within 24 hours of the initial symptoms. That said, this research stopped short of recommending zinc, due to limited sample sizes. Before you take zinc for a cold, it’s important to understand that it can cause unpleasant side-effects, including nausea. What’s more, too much zinc can cause nervous system damage, anemia and copper deficiencies. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before using zinc supplements to prevent or reduce the length of a cold.