Don’t let a cold or flu keep you down; tips to help you recover

Sometimes it's just not possible to avoid the cold or flu, but you can take steps to aid your recovery.

This article was made possible through the financial support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which has partnered with Qcitymetro since 2010.


Ayesha Qureshi
Ayesha Qureshi, MPH

Last week I wrote about how to avoid getting the cold or flu but sometimes, just-in-case you weren’t able to avoid catching it, below are a few tips to help recover faster. If you are not sure if you have the cold or flu, WebMD has a great chart that details the symptoms of each.

Get Plenty of Rest

Resting allows time for your immune system to fight and recover from the germs that made you sick. If you are feeling tired, listen to your body, especially if you are running fever. Get as much sleep and rest as you can. In addition, be mindful to also keep stress levels low. Stress can negatively impact the immune system. Practice stress management and relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing, to help keep stress under control.

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Stay Hydrated

It is important to stay hydrated when sick. This provides a soothing relief and can help with congestions. If drinking plain water while sick does not sound appealing, try water with a bit of lemon. Chicken soup is well known in helping you get some relief. Tea, broths, juices, ginger ale, and decaffeinated sodas are good to drink, too. It is best to avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol, which can cause dehydration. Staying hydrated keeps the mucous membranes moist so it is able to drain and flush out more easily.

Fuel Up

Despite a loss of appetite, which may occur with the cold and flu, it is important to remember to eat something to provide fuel for your body as it heals and recovers. Bananas, ginger, and toast can help with an upset stomach. And eating light proteins and whole grains help keep the body fueled.


As I mentioned earlier, preventing the mucous membranes from drying out is important to recovery. Besides drinking fluids, a good way to do this is to use cold mist vaporizer, saline sprays, or a humidifier. Gargling also helps in this regards, because it keeps the throat moist, which can provide relief if it is sore.

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OTC Medicines

There are a lot of over-the-counter medications to help with cold and flu symptoms. Note the word symptoms. There is no cure for the common cold but there are medicines to help with stuffiness, coughs, fevers, aches and pains. Don’t buy and take any medication without consulting your physician to see what is safe for you.

The cold or flu usually takes about a week to run its course. However, if you are having symptoms that last longer than this — severe aches, pains, chest pains, trouble breathing, or high fever — it is important to see your doctor.

Remember, with a proper rest and care, you should be feeling better in no time.