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How to Kick a Cold or Flu in the Butt

It’s that time of year again—cold and flu season is upon us (bummer, I know). Every once in a while, we get to one of those weeks where it seems like literally everyone in the whole universe has come down with something and we’re all tempted to walk around with surgical masks all day. Unfortunately, colds and flus are a fact of life unless you have the world’s greatest immune system, but you don’t have to let them get you down! Here are some tips to keep your next cold or flu from ruining your day.

Get comfortable and REST

Rest, rest, rest—I cannot stress this enough. When fighting any sort of illness, your body needs to save what little reserves of strength it has. The more you exert yourself, the longer it’ll take for you to feel better, and you’ll probably feel even worse in the process. Take a day or two off from school or work, lay down in bed or on the couch, and take it easy. Bundle up in a cozy blanket and make some hot cocoa, or whatever else makes you feel cozy and comfy. And speaking of hot cocoa…

 

Drink warm liquids and eat warm food

There’s just something about warm food and drinks that makes you feel so cozy whenever you’re sick. Chicken noodle soup and hot chocolate are my personal go-to comfort foods when I’m feeling under the weather. Keeping your fluid levels up is especially important because you don’t want to be dehydrated as well (especially if you have the sweats from a fever).

 

Use decongestants

No one likes a runny or stuffy nose, but nasal decongestants like Sudafed are absolute magic. Before bedtime, though, you want to avoid Sudafed or anything labeled as “non-drowsy” (these medications have stimulant effects that’ll prevent you from getting any valuable sleep. Opt for something like Nyquil instead, or anything else labeled “nighttime”).

 

Use fever reducers (such as ibuprofen)

For the most part, you should try to tough it out at first when you have a fever, because fevers have a valuable mission of fighting off whatever’s making you sick. But if it’s becoming absolutely unbearable, to the point where you can’t sleep or get comfortable at all, definitely take a dose of a fever-reducing medication like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

 

Watch funny videos or movies

Laughter and smiles are two of the best cures for anything that’s getting you down. When you’re sick, any sort of emotional boost can work wonders to make your mind and spirit feel good, even when your body doesn’t.

 

Know when to see a doctor

Know your own limits, in terms of what’s bearable and what isn’t, and be honest with yourself about when you need medical intervention. Have your primary care doctor’s number in your contacts list on your phone, or know how to get to your closest urgent care clinic. Don’t try to tough it out if it means feeling truly unbearable while you’re doing it.

 

Get the seasonal flu shot every year

It’s honestly worth the uncomfortable poke in the arm to have the added protection from the seasonal flu. Granted, the vaccine isn’t totally foolproof (since it’s built around the flu strains that are most likely to rear their ugly heads that year) but it’s definitely better than no protection at all. October is a good time to get a flu shot, so your immune system has plenty of time to build up its defenses before flu season really arrives.

 

Take care of yourself afterwards, too!

Even after you’re done feeling explicitly sick, your body needs to recover from the battle it just fought. If you can take an extra day to just rest up and get your strength back, by all means do it. If you don’t have that luxury, definitely try to take it easy if you have to go back to school or work. If you strain yourself too hard too soon, you could end up getting sick all over again (and no one wants that!).

 

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