How to get rid of a common cold or flu
Daylight savings has ended, the weather is getting cooler and as we mourn the loss of long, summer days, we begin to prepare for the shorter but significantly more snuggly days of winter. Winter often gets a bad wrap but there are some pretty great things about it – hot chocolates, chunky scarves, rainy movie days and bed socks to name a few. One inevitable part of winter that’s not so fab is picking up a cold – when you feel that tickle in your throat, you know what’s coming and it ain’t pretty. Thankfully, there are simple ways to shorten your cold without pumping your body full of antibiotics. I spoke to Vicks Senior Scientist, Dr Jaspreet Kochhar, to find out his tips for how to get rid of a common cold or flu.
Dr Kochhar explains the common cold is not one single disease, but rather a range of symptoms, like sneezing, a runny and blocked nose, a sore throat, aches, pains and a fever. In terms of treatment, he recommends these tips to help relieve the symptoms:
Tip #1: Humidify the air indoors
Dr Kochhar suggests using a humidifier if you’re suffering from a cold as humidifiers increase the moisture in the air, which may help to improve symptoms by “helping to clear secretions, soothing airways, and helping to break up mucous so you can cough it out more easily” (charming!). He adds, “Maintaining high humidity could potentially reduce viral infections.”
Tip #2: Get the right amount of sleep
It comes as no surprise that sleep is super important when you’re suffering from a cold. Dr Kochhar says you should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every night, not as a luxury but as “a vital time that your body needs to repair cells and maintain your immune system”.
Tip #3: Decrease stress
This one is definitely easier said than done! Dr Kochhar explains, “Studies show that elevated levels of stress can have an effect on your immune system.”  To recover from a cold or flu or to ensure it doesn’t get worse, you may simply need to “relax and take it easy”.
Tip #4: Use the right OTC products
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need antibiotics to recover from a cold. Dr Kochhar lists the clinically-proven ingredients that work together to relieve pain and cold symptoms: “Paracetamol, phenylephrine and chlorpheniramine.” There are many medications containing these ingredients (that are also codeine- and pseudoephedrine-free) available from your local pharmacies like Vicks Action Cold & Flu Day & Night Relief. bh also loves Weleda Cold and Flu Pilules and In Essence Breathe Easy Essential Oil Blend for helping to relieve vold and flu symptoms.
Are you prone to the common cold or flu? What are your top tips for treating one?
*Always read the label. Use all medications as directed. If symptoms persist, please consult your healthcare professional. Dr Kochhar’s advice is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek advice from a qualified healthcare provider on queries regarding a medical condition.
 Eccles R., Weber O., Editors. Common Cold. Birkäuser Advances in Infectious Disease Series. Series Editors: Schmidt, A., Weber, O., Kaufmann, S.H.E. Ch: Etiology of the common cold: Modulating Factors by Doyle, W., Cohen, S. p. 159, 2009 Birkäuser Verlag, Basel/Switzerland.