It’s official. You’ve been to the doctor and it’s NOT COVID-19. But you’ve come down with something and you’re feeling pretty crummy. You need to get better quickly – those hungry mouths aren’t going to feed themselves at dinnertime – and you also need to find some relief from your symptoms while you recover. Dr. Sejal Gandhi, an infectious disease physician in the Englewood Health Physician Network in Bergen County, New Jersey, has advice on remedies for cold and flu – and everything in between – that really work. So, listen to the doctor’s orders and take it easy. You’ll be back to yourself in no time!
Cough, Runny Nose, or Congestion:
Here’s the tea. Ginger and honey are your friends. Ginger can help soothe your cough and sore throat and honey, which has some antimicrobial properties, can help with your throat and cough suppression. So, make yourself a cup of ginger/honey tea and sip on it throughout the day.
Get a little salty. A saline nasal spray will keep your nostrils moist, break up nasal congestion, and remove bacteria and viruses from your nose. Just remember to wipe down the applicator between uses and avoid sharing your spray.
A few things you mist do. See what we did there? Steamy showers and humidifiers or cool mist vaporizers will also help moisturize nasal passages and will add humidity to dry winter air. This will help keep mucus draining and will help clear up congestion.
The nose knows. Using an entire box of tissues in one day will do a number on the skin under your nose. Use menthol or eucalyptus to help numb the raw skin around your poor nose.
Give yourself props. Prop yourself up with an extra pillow while you sleep. This will help mucus drain more easily and will relieve congestion.
Hydrate. Drink plenty of water, sports drinks, and clear fluids. For kids, an electrolyte solution like Pedialyte will help keep them from getting dehydrated. If nothing will stay down, suck on ice chips to get in some fluids.
Boring is better. Now is not the time for tacos. Stick to the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) to help calm or slow diarrhea. Yogurt or a probiotic supplement will also help. Plus, these are all good foods to help replace lost electrolytes.
But some spice is right. Add cinnamon or turmeric to your bland diet to help alleviate some symptoms of gastroenteritis. And drink caffeine-free teas like ginger or peppermint to calm your stomach. Add lemon for a hit of vitamin C and take a zinc supplement to help reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms. Step away from the caffeine!
Give it a rest. You need to take it easy. (Ha! Yeah, right). But you do. Fire up the heating pad to help with abdominal cramping, then listen to your body and rest, rest, rest.
Sinus headaches: Congestion in your nasal passages and sinuses can be a big pain in the head. Help ease inflammation and pressure with salt water. Boil water and sea salt together until the salt is dissolved. Cool it down, then add it to a neti pot to help you flush your sinuses.
Migraines: Reach for lavender oil and start breathing techniques the second you feel a migraine coming on. Breathing can help lower hormone levels that cause migraines and lavender oil can give you some relief.
Tension headaches: What? Why would anyone have one of these? But if you do find yourself with one, use peppermint oil or mint menthol to activate cold receptors in your skin. This will open up your blood vessels and counteract the constriction that produces tension headaches. Stay hydrated and increase water intake at the first sign of pain.
Aches, Pains, and Fatigue:
Hit the sack. Yup, sleep is still really, really good for you. It keeps your cortisol levels low and steady, which helps your immune system function properly. Create a good bedtime routine. Try to avoid screens for a few hours before sleep. Meditate. Take a warm bath and relax. Read. Did we mention putting those screens away?
Use your day wisely. What you do during the day will help with sleep at night. Stop drinking caffeine in the mid-afternoon. Keep your body moving to decrease your stress response. Eat nutritious foods including antioxidant vegetables, fermented foods and honey. Take supplements that include vitamin C and zinc.
It’s all about you. Yes, there are a lot of people in your house who need you to take care of them. Please remember that one of those people is you. Try and carve out time to do something for yourself each day. Remind yourself that you don’t need hours to recharge. Even giving yourself 15 minutes to do a crossword puzzle or 30 minutes to watch a sitcom will help you remember that you’re important, too.
Treat yourself as you treat others. You feed your family (mostly) healthy food. You make sure they get to bed (mostly) at a reasonable hour. You encourage your children’s interests and cheer them on. You carve out time to be with them. You forgive their mistakes. You tell them you love them. Are you treating yourself the way you treat your kids? Try to find ways to care for yourself the way you care for your kids.
And if you need help, ask. Englewood Health Physician Network is just a phone call away. You are not alone.
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