Monday, 13 January 2014

'Tis the season to catch a cold - Tips for cold or flu symptoms

After weeks of gorging on sugary, fatty (and delicious) foods, drinking alcohol and burning the candle at both ends it's no wonder that a lot of people catch a cold in January after the Christmas period as these can all contribute to lower your immune system.
For the general population getting a cough, cold or sore throat is usually nothing more than an unpleasant experience for 3-4 days however, those of us who are already depleted because of ill health can be hit a lot harder by the common cold. People with chronic conditions can be much more susceptible to bacterial and viral illnesses and the resulting illness and repercussions lasting weeks or months with the added symptoms causing extra pain, exhaustion and complications to pre-existing conditions. This can also be said of people who are in a recovery phase.
One of the most feared things during times of chronic illness is experiencing a relapse, especially if you have managed to regain some ground towards good health. It can be a frightening feeling thinking you may be coming down with a bug and admitting you are feeling worse than you usually do. During a recovery if there are any blips (like getting a cold etc.) you may start to feel as if it's the beginning of a backward slide and panic and push yourself harder to make progress. If you feel unwell then try to take it easy. Be careful. Take regular rests and try not to think that you are going to lose all that hard earned progress. Below I've listed a few things that might help ease those aches and pains plus a couple of my own remedies that might hit the spot too! Hopefully this will help get your body back on track and nip anything in the bud before it takes over and threatens your health seriously.

The essential kit when coping with colds
(From left: Analgesic tablets, Tiger Balm, Soft Tissues, Lip Balm, TCP)
The Essentials:

  • Analgesic medication - if you have a fever or are in discomfort then taking something like paracetamol or ibuprofen can help in the short term.
  • Tiger Balm - an amazing little pot of goodness. This multi-purpose salve is great for relieving sore noses and rubbing on temples to soothe headaches. The best way to describe it is Olbas Oil mixed with Vaseline. It's a mentholised balm that I use to slather on my nose that clears the airways and helps moisturise and heal your nose after all that blowing. Apply regularly throughout the day. Also great for massaging into sore and tired muscles all over the body.
  • Tissues - an obvious one I know! However people seem to not realise how important it is to blow your nose when you have a cold. I think some people have a bit of a mental block or 'thing' about blowing their nose but unfortunately there's no way around this one. It's no use dabbing at it in a vain attempt to clear it or constantly sniffing. All that gunk has got to come out and it won't move unless you give it some encouragement! Do be careful not to blow your nose too hard though - you don't want to give yourself a headache. Because you will be blowing your nose quite often make sure to use soft facial tissues rather than anything horribly scratchy otherwise you'll add an incredibly sore nose into the bargain.
  • Lip Balm - I find that my lips get very dry when I have a cold so I make sure I have a good quality lip balm with me to apply when I need it. Avoid preparations that contain camphor as this will only dry your lips out more.
  • TCP - is an amazing antiseptic tonic that is excellent when diluted with water and gargled to help sore and inflamed throats. It's a strong concoction but it works wonderfully.
  • Water - drink plenty of water to hydrate yourself and flush out those toxins.
Ingredients for making a soothing hot toddy
(From left: Manuka Honey, Green Tea, Fresh Ginger, Lemon)
Hot Toddy or Homemade Lemsip drink recipe:

  • Manuka Honey - wonder ingredient. Antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory benefits. Make sure to buy manuka honey with a UMF rating to ensure efficacy.
  • Green Tea - full of antioxidants and has antibacterial properties. A great drink on it's own or added to a hot toddy recipe for extra benefits.
  • Fresh Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune boosting and anti-sickness benefits. It's also a very warming ingredient than can soothe sore throats and sensitive stomachs. Top Tip: peel ginger root with a teaspoon to get the skin off. So much easier than trying to cut it off.
  • Lemon - packed with Vitamin C, antiseptic and antibacterial agents. Use the whole lemon not just the juice to get maximum effects.

Infuse the ginger and lemon in hot water for at least 5 minutes. Add green tea if you like it, it's an acquired taste so not for everyone. Once the infusion is ready add a teaspoon of manuka honey to the tea and drink.
Making great quality chicken stock
Chicken soup:

It's not an old wives tale, chicken soup actually does help you feel better when you've got a cold. Ingredients in chicken soup can help ease congestion and also have anti-inflammatory benefits that can help soothe sore throats.
The basis for a cold-fighting soup is a stock made from the bones of a chicken. This is really important as the bones contain lots of nutrients and vitamins like zinc and magnesium that can help boost your immune system. You can make a great chicken broth/stock by boiling up a chicken carcass (leftover from your Sunday roast) with bay leaves, fresh herbs, carrot, celery, onions and garlic. Once you've let it simmer for a couple of hours, strain to leave a clear liquid. Add vegetables and/or chicken meat to the broth and serve for a health-boosting bowlful.


Getting enough shut eye is such an important thing when trying to help your body heal. During the night your body repairs itself and sleep boosts immune function, metabolism, memory, brain function and so many other things. When you are feeling run down or under the weather taking extra rest periods or afternoon naps is not only healthy but can prevent you from getting any more ill.

These are just a few things that might help you if you catch a cold or are feeling below par. Ultimately there is no cure-all or magic pill to take that will prevent you getting ill. Having a good sense of yourself and monitoring how you are feeling may help you allow yourself a little extra time to heal and care for your body. I hope any of you reading this who are suffering from a cold feel much better soon and that this has helped you get some relief.
Any comments or other helpful tips will be gladly received.

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