Suffering from a cold? Expert reveals the common mistakes making it worse

If a cold is bothering you, there are ways to get rid of it quicker...

When we’re struck down with a cold, the aim is to get rid of it, pronto. But, could you be making it worse?

And, whilst it’s hard to just plough on through, grappling with snotty tissues, sore throat (opens in new tab) and coughing (opens in new tab) fits, us Brits don’t like to admit defeat.

But, it turns out that actually, this could be making our cold worse. In fact, there’s a few things that we all do when we’re struggling with a cold (opens in new tab), that aren’t helping at all.

Dr Jenna Macciochi, one of the UK’s leading immunologists reveals all…

DON’T: Keep going as usual

DO: Slow down and get a good night’s sleep with at least eight hours a night

‘If you really want to give your body the energy it needs to fight your bug, you need to rest and have some good quality sleep, (opens in new tab)’ says Jenna.

She adds: ‘If you have a fever, this is an essential part of the immune system (opens in new tab)’s response to beating bugs, because the infection struggles to multiply at higher body temperatures and fever is actually helping your immune cells to fight the virus.’

This raised body temperature also increases our demand for energy so ensuring you get plenty of rest and eat nourishing food, is paramount. Jenna recommends eight hours of good, interrupted sleep each night, and if your body needs a nap, let it nap!

DON’T: ‘Treat’ yourself because you feel ill

DO: Be careful of your diet

‘If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, you might be tempted to cheer yourself up with comfort foods (opens in new tab) or sugary snacks (opens in new tab),’ says Jenna.

However, your body needs energy to fight off the cold, so your best bet is sticking to light warming meals that are easy to digest, such as soups and broths.

‘Ensure you get your daily dose of plant polyphenols (full of antioxidants to help your immune system fight back naturally) by eating lots of vegetables such as onion and garlic, which also have anti-inflammatory properties.’

Try to avoid sugary snacks like cake and biscuits – however tempting – as the sugar limits your body’s ability to absorb vitamin c.

DON’T: Take a paracetamol drink that only masks the symptoms

DO: Take a high dose vitamin drink that targets recovery rather than the symptoms

They might be tasty and warming but Jenna warms that whilst paracetamol is used in some cold and flu drinks to help reduce the symptoms of a cold, these symptoms are actually a sign of your immune system working hard to expel the virus.’

‘When you feel a cold and flu coming on, work with your immune system’s response to the illness, rather than the symptoms, as this will help you recover quicker. A high dose of extra vitamins such as C, D and minerals such as zinc have been shown to help the immune system and speed up recovery.

‘Vitamin C in particular has been shown to reduce the duration and the severity of a cold. In fact, the latest scientific studies have shown that high doses at first sign of a cold can speed up your recovery by up to 2 whole days.’

Jenna explains: ‘There are also many cold and flu products on the market, full of unnecessary sweeteners, fillers, and synthetic products. Tonic Health (10 sachets for £5.99, tonichealth.co (opens in new tab)) is the only natural winter immunity supplement on the market with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners.’

Lucy Gornall
Lucy Gornall

Freelance writer Lucy Gornall is the former health and fitness editor for various women’s magazines including Woman&Home Feel Good You. She has previously written for titles including Now, Look and Cosmopolitan, Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Weekly and Chat. She lives and breathes all things fitness.