As fall hits full swing, the weather is getting colder, the leaves are starting to fall, and sniffle season is just beginning. If you’ve got a telltale runny nose, sore throat, and general fatigue, you’re not alone. This year, millions of people will grapple with seasonal colds. And while there’s no cure, there are a few ways to relieve symptoms, support a quick recovery, and prevent them from happening again. Stop fall colds in their tracks with these Swell-approved wellness tips.
First things first, what causes fall colds?
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t catch a cold by being outdoors in cold temperatures. Colds are infections of the nose and throat, generally mild, that are caused by exposure to viruses. So what’s the deal with seasonal colds? According to Dr. Steven Heyden, the weather makes us more susceptible, but not in the way we might expect.
First, the cold, dry air in fall and winter is the perfect environment for airborne cold and flu viruses to live longer and transmit more easily. Plus, when the weather gets colder, we’re more likely to spend time together indoors, upping our exposure to other people’s cold germs. Compound that with the fact that fall means back-to-school for kids, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a case of the crud.
A perfect symptom storm
Fall can also be a peak season for flu and allergy symptoms. Dr. Heyden elaborates, “As we’ve noted, cooler fall and winter temperatures are conducive to more cold and flu viruses in the air. And allergies can irritate your lungs and nasal passages, leaving you more susceptible to cold or flu viruses — it’s essentially a one-two punch for ending up being sick when the seasons change.”
Warm salt water is your new best friend
The symptoms of a cold can include a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, headache, and general fatigue. And while warm salt water isn’t a cure-all, it can help relieve several of these symptoms. Over-the-counter saline drops and sprays help with stuffiness. The salt water also moisturizes your sinuses and makes them more effective at filtering viruses and germs out of the air. Sore throat? Gargling warm salt water several times a day can reduce inflammation, and help flush irritants. The Mayo Clinic recommends dissolving half a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water. Gargle the solution for a few seconds, letting it wash over the back of your throat, before spitting it out.
Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more
Water, all-natural juice, clear broth, hot tea with honey… however you choose to hydrate, maintaining your fluid intake is key to stopping colds in any season. That means avoiding dehydrating drinks like coffee and alcohol. You should also steer clear of sugary juices and sports drinks, which can exacerbate symptoms with sugar’s inflammatory properties.
While you can’t “drown a cold,” staying hydrated helps support your immune system and natural cold-defense mechanisms. It can also relieve some of the symptoms, like congestion and sore throat, by keeping your mucous membranes in tip-top shape.
Know when to throw in the towel
We’ve all been there. Bundling up in extra sweaters, throwing some tea in a thermos, and dragging our fall colds to the office. Or taking our germs with us to pick up the kids from school.
Unfortunately, one of the best ways to stop fall colds in their tracks is to go into full quarantine mode. Most bugs are contagious even before you feel symptoms, and stay that way for five to seven days. So, the next time you feel the telltale signs, bunker down instead of powering through. We promise the hot tubs will still be here when you feel better.