Cold season is upon us with full force! It sucks getting sick and I have definitely spent my fair share of time getting sick and staying sick. In fact, I spent this entire past weekend and half of this week sick with the worst sore throat I’ve had in a long time. It was no fun being stuck in bed or on the couch feeling miserable, particularly because I missed my husband’s birthday! While it sucked missing his birthday, I am recovering faster than I ever have before (read: it used to take me up to 4 weeks to get over a cold when it should take about 1 week). It took me way too many years learning how to deal with colds, so please learn from my mistakes and read the following advice on staying and getting healthy from a cold.
Stock Up Before You Get Sick
There are a few things you should have on hand BEFORE you get sick, which will make your life so much easier. We keep these things in stock year-round and restock as soon as we get low so that we never, ever run out (we’ve run out before and it leaves at least one of us miserable). Check your pantry and medicine cabinet TODAY and stock up on anything you might be missing:
- Cold and flu medicine. Make sure you have at least 4 days’ supplies of your preferred cold and flu medicine on hand. We keep generic Dayquil and Nyquil, and brand name Alka-Seltzer Plus Sore Throat Relief Quick Dissolve Melts on hand at all times, along with the 6 or 12 hour Sudafed that you have to sign for at the pharmacy. If we ever run out of anything, it goes straight on the shopping list to be replaced ASAP.
- Cough drops. The favorite in my house is Hall’s Honey Lemon Drops. We’ve tried to generic ones, but they’re just not as good as the brand name stuff. If you have another brand or flavor that you prefer and it works, then use it.
- Bottled water. When you’re sick, the last thing you need to worry about is how to stay hydrated. If you have some bottled water on hand, you can easily grab 3 or 4 (or more) bottles without depleting your already-low energy.
- Puffs Plus with Lotion. If you have a runny nose, you’re going to blow it a.lot, so make sure you have the soft stuff to protect your poor nose.
- Powdered Gatorade (or some variation thereof) in your favorite flavor. I keep powdered Gatorade at home so we can easily and quickly make a sports drink to replenish electrolytes without having to store bottles of it. Plus, if you have bottled water, it’s incredibly easy to pour some powder in, shake it up, and drink.
- Canned chicken noodle soup or chicken and rice soup. We always have at least 3 cans in our pantry of soup to soothe sore throats when one of us is sick. While homemade chicken noodle soup is best when you’re sick, it isn’t always an option if you don’t have the ingredients on hand. So, keep some canned stuff in your pantry for emergencies.
When You’re Already Sick
When you do get sick, there are a few things you should do to help the healing process go more smoothly. Here are the top 3 that work best for me.
- Get Sleep
The first thing you need to do when you start to get sick and when you are in the middle of a full-blown sickness is to sleep. If you’re able, just lean into the sickness and do everything you can to sleep it off. If you have any sick time at all at work, use it! Nobody wants you to bring your germs to work and get infected, so stay home…and then use that time to sleep off your sickness. If you need a doctor’s note, then find a way to get your butt to an Urgent Care or your doctor, get a note, and then get back to bed. If you aren’t able to sleep until noon, sleep as much as you can. I promise that nearly everything can wait until you’re better.
If you have a pet, of course you need to make sure that they’re taken care of. Depending on how sick you are, you might ask a parent/significant other/roommate/friend/neighbor to help you out with feeding your pet and making sure they get to go to the bathroom and have enough water.
- Drink Up
Speaking of having enough water, you need to make sure that YOU have enough too! If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t feel like drinking, but you need to. Every time you wake up, drink at least ½ a bottle or glass of water. You need to drink much more than you think you do, so stay hydrated! If you’re really sick, it helps to have some bottled water on standby in your pantry so you can easily grab some without having to refill a bottle every time. If you have the energy, then go ahead and refill a reusable water bottle or use a glass. Depending on how much you have or have not eaten while you’re sick, you might need to replenish your electrolytes. I keep powdered Gatorade at home so I can easily make gatorade without having to store bottles.
Tea is always nice, with a touch of honey. Or you can go full-on with hot water with honey and lemon. If you’re over 21 and drink alcohol, a hot toddy can work wonders on a sore throat – some hot water, honey, and whiskey.
- Take Medicine
At the VERY FIRST sign of a cold (usually, a tickle in the back of your throat), start taking medicine. I don’t care if you don’t want it to be true and want to practice denial. If you go that route, you will almost definitely get sick. Respect the sickness and fight it. I respect if you don’t like to take drugs, but you need to get on a cold as soon as you feel the symptoms. If you don’t mind getting well through modern chemistry, there are the standbys of Dayquil and Nyquil (and the myriad of other brands and generics) to help you out. My personal favorite drug for a sore throat is Alka-Seltzer Plus Sore Throat Relief Quick Dissolve Melts. They work pretty quickly but are nearly impossible to find in drugstores, so stock up online before you need them. In addition, you should also have a supply of cough drops – my preferred one is Hall’s Honey Lemon – and not the generic kind. There are times when it’s okay to get generic, but cough drops is not one of them.
If you don’t want to use modern chemistry, there are some other options, but I don’t know as much about them. My husband chews/sucks on a bit of snakeroot whenever his throat becomes sore and it works wonders for him. We found a bit of snakeroot at a natural health store and you can also probably find it online. I haven’t mastered the art of chewing on snakeroot (it always falls apart on me), but my husband swears by it. He starts using it at the very first sign that he might be getting sick and he’s usually able to avoid getting a full-blown sore throat. Drinking tea is a good option – preferably one without caffeine when you’re sick, but only add honey (instead of sugar) if you need to sweeten it first.
Don’t Get Sick in the First Place
Ideally, you can get through cold season without getting sick. If you want to have any hope of this, here are a few things you can try:
- Wash your hands all.the.time. Wash your hands before you eat, after you use the bathroom, after you’ve been on public transportation, or traveling in particular. You never know what germs may lurk on the things you touch, so be safe and wash your hands. If/when your hands get dry, use lotion. I personally keep lotion at my desk at work, beside my kitchen sink at home, in the console of my car, in my guest bathroom at home, and in my bathroom at home.
- Take lots of Vitamin C. You can eat an orange, drink orange juice, take a pill, a tablet, Emergen-C, Airborne – whatever form you like, as long as you increase your Vitamin C dose when you’re feeling run down, when people in the office/school around you are getting sick, or in general.
- Drink lots of water. Yep, this option comes into play both in helping to stay healthy and to get healthy. Basically, you need to drink water. Not a beverage made with water (I’m looking at you coffees, teas, sports drinks, sodas, flavored water, and alcohol), but pure water straight from the tap, water cooler, or bottle.
- Use a humidifier at night. I don’t happen to have a humidifier myself, but I have several friends who do and they are devotees of their humidifiers when it comes to not being sick. If you tend to get sick a lot, consider investing in one.
- Sleep! I can’t stress this enough – get enough sleep. Every time an illness goes on longer than it should, it’s invariably due to lack of sleep. So, don’t be mean to your body, which is trying as hard as it can to keep you healthy, and get a decent night’s sleep.
For your sakes, I really hope that none of you get sick this fall because it can be a really miserable experience if you’re sick. However, if you do get sick, make sure you’re stocked up so that you can get well as quickly as possible. The advice above is definitely not comprehensive, so do you have any advice of your own for staying healthy and/or recovering quickly? If so, please share in the comments!
*Note, there are no affiliate links in this post. The products mentioned above are simply my favorites and I won’t make any money if you buy any of them.