5 Ways To Combat That Pesky Autumn Cold

The classroom is basked in nearly complete silence. The only noise is the obnoxious rustle of your own tissues. Your exam stares back at you through your red-rimmed eyes. Pencils scratch rapidly against paper while your classmates compose their answers in a frantic scrawl. You swallow back your nerves, only to be met with the scorching dryness of your own throat. Before you can think twice about it, you let out a loud sneeze. And as if on cue, five heads turn in your direction, seeming to silently reprove you for attending class in such a state. 

Of course, you would have loved to have spent the day enveloped in a fleece blanket, downing Alka Seltzer every four hours and mindlessly watching episodes of “Glee.” But alas, as many college students know all too well, there are times where we simply must push through a cold. And while our obligations to academics and extracurriculars are important, it is still crucial to prioritize our health. After all, how can we be thriving in these aspects of our lives if our upper respiratory system is not? 

So, here are five simple tips to combat that pesky, seasonal cold.

1. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids

It is not uncommon for college students to constantly have caffeinated drinks coursing through their veins. And while iced coffee may give you the boost you so need at 9 a.m., such delectable beverages do not help to counteract the dehydration that accompanies a cold. When you feel under the weather, temporarily ditch your beloved caffeine for water, juice, tea, warm liquids, and soup. Consistent fluid intake not only helps to break up congestion but also averts headaches and fatigue. 

There are various ways to remain hydrated during the onset of sickness. For example, you may choose to pour yourself a glass of orange juice to reap the benefits of cold-fighting Vitamin C or perhaps you may decide to brew a steaming cup of green tea to alleviate an irritated, dry throat. When in doubt, it is best to turn to your old friend, H2O. Be sure to bring a refillable water bottle to class to flush out any unwanted toxins plaguing your immune system!

Via Giphy

2. Don’t skimp on sleep

I know most college students don’t need an excuse to nap, but I’m going to give you one anyway! When you’re sick, your body is using more energy than usual to fight off the infection. So as a result, your body desperately needs to rest and replenish itself. In fact, sleep deprivation significantly weakens your immune system, which makes you more vulnerable to germs. 

Avoid staying up into the wee hours of the morning in front of your computer screen or an open textbook. Instead, opt to turn-in early or take naps sporadically throughout the day. And if necessary, don’t hesitate to reach out to your professors and let them know you won’t be able to attend class. Use your self-proclaimed sick day to catch up on some much-needed rest so that you’ll be back to hitting the books in no time!

Via Giphy

3. Know the sinus pressure points

A dismal autumn cold is often accompanied by uncomfortable sinus pressure. To alleviate this uncomfortable stuffiness, it can prove useful to locate the sinus pressure points along your face. 

To begin, take your thumb and pointer finger and gently pinch the bridge of your nose. Apply pressure to this area while inhaling and exhaling for about ten seconds. Then bring your pointer and middle fingers to the skin above your brow bone. Hold steady pressure there for a few seconds and then massage outward until you reach your temples. 

At your temples, use your fingers to make small circular motions and repeat this process three to four times. Finally, take two fingers and place them on the sinus cavity at either side of your nose. Apply even pressure and breathe deeply for ten to fifteen seconds. After performing this simple act of self-care, you’ll notice that you can breathe a little easier!

Via Giphy

4. Let things get a little steamy!

A steamy remedy might just be the cure you’ve been searching for. If you live on campus, try to find a time when the communal showers are relatively vacant and treat yourself to a hot shower. The residual steam from a hot shower can help to open up your congested sinuses and speed up the recovery process. 

If you have access to a stove, there is another steam method you can try. Simply bring a pan of water to a boil and then pour it into a large bowl. Lean over the bowl, cover your head with a medium-sized towel, and breathe in the steam for five to ten minutes. You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil for added effect. If you're looking for an even simpler remedy, you can try applying a warm compress to your face. This method not only proves relaxing but also reduces unwanted inflammation. 

Via Giphy

5. Stock up on necessary items

The only way to successfully battle a cold is with an impressive arsenal. At the first sign of symptoms, be sure to stock up on all the necessary items to ensure a quick recovery. Even better? Try to be proactive during this time of year and keep an assemblage of over-the-counter medications close at hand. While browsing your local pharmacy, make sure to grab items like throat lozenges, saline nasal spray, Vicks VapoRub, Advil, hand sanitizer, and tissues. 

If you live on campus, don’t forget to add canned soups and instant noodles to your shopping cart. Not only will these meals save you a trek to the dining hall, but they also require minimal effort and preparation. With sheer determination and pharmaceutical assistance, you will find yourself more than prepared to combat any impending cold!

Via Giphy

Remember collegiettes, these tips are designed to help minor cases of the common cold. If you find that your symptoms persist, please seek the opinion of a medical professional or visit George Mason’s student health clinic on campus. 

If you still find yourself in the midst of a sinus-pocalypse, you can always ask your mom to send you a container of her homemade chicken noodle soup. I’ve heard that it has indisputable medicinal properties.