Healthy Body

Top tips to banish your cold and flu away

It’s that time of year again when the Christmas trees go up and the temperature goes down, and with it, so do our natural defences against illness.
The most common and troublesome of these is of course the cold. We’ve all experienced the horrible feeling of a blocked nose, stuffy head and that awful cough that keeps you up all night, but luckily there are ways to prevent, or limit, the symptoms occurring without the need to head to the chemist.
Rich in vitamin C, oranges are a great way to help boost and protect the white blood cells from being damaged. White blood cells are the main defence against infection and having these at their strongest will increase your chances of getting better or not avoiding colds in the first place.
Like oranges, yoghurts contain elements which strongly aid your natural immunity. The probiotic content found in yoghurts benefits your immune system greatly and just one serving per day will give you that extra fight that is needed when your defences are at their lowest.
Honey is perhaps the most beneficial and natural way to treat the negative effects that come with being under the weather. As well as being good for your immune system, it also holds antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and is also packed full of antioxidants. The consistency of honey too will give you that much needed relief from having a sore throat.
Hot Drinks
Tea, tea and more tea. Us Irish can’t get enough and having a cold gives us good reason to drink as much as we want. Drinking it will make you feel warm and help clear the mucus from your throat.  Adding lemon juice or honey to it is another great way to give an extra added boost.
Just like tea, soup, being a hot liquid, gets rid of the mucus in your throat and warms you up. However, it has been discovered that soup does a better job than that, especially chicken flavoured. It can be a very filling meal too meaning that you’ll be fighting off that hunger too.
With any illness, water is the key to get better. Being dehydrated actually makes you feel worse than you are and ultimately prevents you from feeling your usual self quicker. Water does loosen that congested feeling too and lubricates your throat against that dry feeling.
Always carry pocket tissues around with you so that you are not spreading your illness. By sneezing into a tissue or cleaning your runny nose with a clean tissue, you avoid the virus taking refuge on surfaces such as tables, kitchen counters or even your clothes. And don’t forget to dispose of used tissues or else you will be harbouring germs in your pocket throughout the day.
Wash hands
The cold is common, meaning that the virus is around us pretty much all the time. Unless you decide to wear a hazmat suit or sanitize your hands every five seconds, you will come into contact with it. However, that does not mean that you will necessarily catch a cold. By washing your hands with warm soapy water every time you use the bathroom or before eating, you are greatly reducing your risk of getting sick.
Avoid close contact
This step can be difficult, but if you do feel a cold or flu coming on then it is best to not get too close to family, friends or anyone really. This way you can be in control and prevent yourself from potentially catching what anyone else might have as well as not giving them your germs too.
Stay warm
This is probably the most basic of tips, but it’s also the one that is potentially the hardest to follow being a student. Rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold, grows better in colder conditions so wearing that extra pair of socks or jumper could make all the difference. A drop in body temperature could result in the immune system not working at its optimal potential.
Get rest
This is often said to people who are sick but it is never really explained why. Sleep deprivation results in poorer immune system function which is needed to combat against having a cold. 
On top of this, getting those much needed extra couple of hours in bed will give you the energy levels needed to face the day without that drained feeling.
This may sound like the last thing you’d want to do when your sinuses are blocked, but it does have its benefits as long as the cold hasn’t reached your chest and/or you don’t have a fever.
A light intensity workout can help open up those nasal passages and give you that much needed relief, even if it is only for a brief period of time.
Stop Smoking
This should be common sense when it comes to any illness to do with your breathing, but the information on the negative effects aren’t known. 
Smoking while sick damages cells in your lungs, which in turn makes it more difficult for them to recover. Cigarettes will also dry out your throat and make swallowing more difficult.
Photo:Allan Foster/ Flickr