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5 Ways to Recover From a Cold or the Flu

When fall rolls around, there are a few certainties we can all depend on: pumpkin spiced lattes, colourful leaves, Halloween candy lining store shelves – and weakened immune systems. Here are five tips on how to get better when you’re stuck with a cold or the flu.

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Stay Home

If you’re feeling under the weather, the best thing you can for your family, friends and co-workers is to keep inside your home. Pushing yourself will only make you sicker, which is why it’s important to steer clear of civilization until you start feeling better. “If it would make you nervous to be around someone who sounds like you, you ought to be at home,” says Dr. David Tannenbaum, Family Physician in Chief at Mt. Sinai hospital in Toronto.

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Take Advantage of Daytime Television

While at home, take advantage of the downtime and rest up. Recline in bed and catch up on some reading or sitcom binge-watching. When you’re zapped with an illness, your immune system is working extra hard to fight it, which is why you feel sluggish and low energy. Succumb to that energy level and take it easy.

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Drink Warm Fluids

You’ll likely notice a decreased appetite when you’re sick, but it’s important to keep up your caloric intake so that your body can fight off what’s bringing you down. It’s also critical to stay hydrated to keep your fluids up. Dr. Tannenbaum suggests drinking chicken soup or a warm broth to ease some of your worst symptoms. “You’ll get some calories that way, keep your fluids up and the warm, steamy fluid helps with congestions and eases the sore throat,” he says.

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Pop a Painkiller

If you’re running a fever, it may help to take an over-the-counter painkiller, which will lower your temperature and help you feel a bit better. “It reduces the aches and people feel better if their fever is controlled,” says Dr. Tannenbaum. However, it won’t shorten the amount of time you’ll be sick. Be sure to read the instructions on the bottle to know how much to take and when.

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Relax and Be Patient

Accept the fact that your immune system is forcing you to slow down and do your best to relax. Stressing out won’t help shorten the time it takes for your body to recover. Dr. Tannenbaum says often people get caught up in their illness and suspect it’s worse than it is. “They worry they’ve got a serious disease,” he says. “It’s hard for people to recognize this is just a standard virus that will go away in a few days or a week.” If you’re not getting better after a few days – you have trouble breathing, your fever is only going up – seek medical attention.