Signs of a Cold and How to Prevent It


Our bodies give us signals when we are coming down with a cold. And while there may not be a cure for the common cold, there are signs and signals that we can adhere to that will help us to prevent getting sick. If you pay attention to these signals, you can actually help to prevent a cold before it has time to set in.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Coming down with a cold will make you feel tired. Exhaustion and fatigue are two signs of a pending illness. In order to starve off your incoming cold you should make sure that you are getting as much sleep as possible. Generally, our bodies are wired to push through any type of minor physical symptoms, but that is the first mistake when it comes to the early stages of a cold. Whether you are feeling sleepier than usual or not, it is a good idea to make the time to get a good night’s rest. So DVR you favorite late night shows and put off that girl’s night out for another time to ensure that you are getting the right amount of Zzz’s.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

It is a general rule of thumb to always stay hydrated, especially during the cold and flu season. But once you start to notice that you are having difficulty breathing through your nose, fluids are a must. Drinking plenty of water and juice will help you to open up a stuffy nose. Your nasal passages will need some extra moisture to keep cold germs at bay.

“Colds are minor upper respiratory illnesses, and the symptoms usually first start in the nose,” says Evangeline Lausier, MD, an assistant clinical professor at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. “The cold virus attacks these nasal areas, and the body fights back by secreting more mucus to mechanically flush out the virus.”

Keep Stress at a Minimum

Stressful situations can make cold symptoms much worse. Doctors are still trying to understand the connection between stress and sickness, but one thing is clear: Chronic stress is not good for the immune system. In a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that people who were more stressed were more likely to get sick. So if that huge project at work is slowing you down, try to take some time to breathe, take a nap, and enjoy a few moments to yourself.

Stop a Scratchy Throat by Gargling Salt Water

You may think that pouring salt on a wound would make it worse, but in this case it helps to make it feel much better. A salt water rinse can help to reduce swelling and mucus collection that gathers in the back of the throat and nasal passages, where the cough receptors area says Dr. Lausier.

Research supports this home remedy: In a study from Japan, volunteers were asked to regularly gargle with salt water while others did not. After 60 days, the gargling group had a 40 percent decrease in colds compared to the control group. The Mayo Clinic advises adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt to an eight-ounce glass of warm water. Just don’t swallow it!

A Hot Shower Can Ease Your Congestion

Once you start feeling congested, you should try taking a hot shower to help clear out your nasal passages. A hot shower can actually work wonders for your symptoms. Other safe ways to relieve nasal symptoms are to use a saline spray or a neti pot. These make “mucus thinner especially if you use an irrigation spray bottle or a neti pot to move that mucus” Dr. Lausier says. “The salt and steam can help shrink swollen membranes so that you can breathe easier.”

Enjoy Warm Chicken Soup for Sinus Pressure

When you notice the first signs of a cold you may feel like your entire body hurts. You will have watery, tired eyes, pressure in your cheeks and even a headache. One homemade remedy that has been around for ages is chicken soup. It may help you to feel comfortable and the warm soup soothes your throat but does it really work?

“I think chicken soup is great for hydration—hot liquids, salt and electrolytes,” Dr. Lausier says. “What goes in it can also provide healing properties: Onions and garlic can reduce the viscosity of mucus and help prevent or lessen congestion.” Science backs up chicken soup’s anti-inflammatory properties. A now-famous study from the University of Nebraska tested how certain white blood cells, which fight off infection, reacted to chicken soup, and concluded that the soup really did have a positive effect. Dr. Lausier says that other cold-fighting foods include raw garlic, ginger, and chili peppers, a natural decongestant.