How to comfort your common cold

How to comfort your common cold

It is my fourth day now at home and my second day leave of absence because I was down with a cold. So the mushrooms will have to wait for me until I am well again and able to forage the forest.

Tuesday when I noticed that my throat was scratchy but didn’t really pay attention to it eventhough I was also sneezing. I do sneeze more often than the average person you know (like I have a record of sneezing 13 times with 4-7 seconds interval and that didn’t include the ones before I started counting) so for me, sneezing doesn’t really count as a cold sign. Came Wednesday after lunch, that was when I felt my body weakened. My body does get tired at work but that time was different. It was with a headache and a congested nose. The sneezing was in slow motion, sne-EEEEE-ze. The thing with me and sickness, I almost always get it when I am about to have a day off. So came Thursday, still sneezing and scratchy throat scratches more, eyes were all droopy and I said to myself, “No, this is your day off and you will get out there and take some pictures of mushrooms!” Well said than done! To make the story short, I have been home in bed since then.

Although common cold is not fatal, it creates so much discomfort leaving us debilitated. During the night, the time when the body should recuperate, the cold is usually worse and we find it hard to sleep. The nose would be more congested forcing us to breathe in the mouth and also causes the throat to dry causing a certain amount of pain. When finally sleep finds us, the virus which is always the cause of a cold begin attacking causing itchiness and triggering the cough reflex. After 3 nights and 4days of cold, I tried several ways to comfort myself and one of which is drinking hot beverage. This relieved so much congestion from my nose (or sinuses.) I tried avoiding coffee except in the morning since I really like to sleep well, so it was mainly tea! Today, I consumed 7 mugs of tea! Good thing we have decaffeinated ones!

There is no drug that can cure the common cold although there are several medicines that relieves the discomfort. I usually reserve it when my symptoms are not getting any better within one week. If you share my no-drugs-after-a-week policy and would like the cold to go away quickly, here are the things I usually do for comfort:

  • #1 on my list is REST -  you may be a fighter but there is no need to fight the virus as it will go away by itself. The body is being attacked and it doesn’t need any more stress.
  • EAT well – some may experience loss of appetite. I account this to the loss of taste which is due to congestion of the nasal passages blocking the olfactory nerve. The olfactory nerve is responsible to 75% of our taste sensory. Without this, food will only taste salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami. I usually find it beneficial to include fruits as I don’t normally drink much and this helps in hydration. Plus,  it is packed with vitamins and minerals for boosting the immune system.  Also, a source of hydration, soup for me is very comforting as this glides down fast, less strain on my throat and it acts as decongestant for a little while. Mayo Clinic, lists chicken soup as one remedy for colds. Chocolates during a cold is a big NO-NO for me!
  • Warm Bath – When my body feels so heavy and my head so congested, I find warm bath to be helpful. After the bath, I feel normal for several minutes or even an hour or so. I usually take this before I go to bed.
  • HOT beverages – Tea is one of my comfort drinks. If you have someone to make a chai for you with all those herbs and spices, then that would be a perfect immune system booster. Aside from the regular tea,  I make my own ginger tea which is made by boiling slices of ginger, strain in a cup, add lemon juice and some honey! Soothes the throat immensely and gives an anti-inflammatory effect. While boiling the ginger, the steam can also relieve nasal congestion. Instead of waiting, stand by the pot and inhale that steam! One drink that I discovered just today, is hot toddy! I mentioned above, that cold tends to worsen during the night and this beverage will help one sleep well.

Hot toddy is made by mixing 1 shot of whiskey, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/2 cup of hot water and lemon (I found it best to add more lemon as this masked the taste of whiskey)    and you may want to drink this when you are about to sleep and not when making a blog!

  • Lastly, doing PASSIVE recreational things – I find it relaxing to listen to music, read some books and watch funny films!


  1. Colds are caused by viruses, most commonly by rhinovirus.
  2. It is not caused by rainy or cold weather. During those times, we stay at home or in confined rooms increasing the chance of being contaminated by the virus.
  3. Higher dose of vitamin C has not the proven effect of preventing or shortening the condition of cold.
  4. Lack of rest and emotional stress increase the chance of being affected by the virus.
  5. Fever is not a sign of cold.
  6. The best way to prevent a cold is washing our hands thoroughly and regularly.


Umami: is a loanword from the Japanese which means a savory taste. It is one of the five basic tastes together with salty, sweet, bitter and sour.

Olfactory nerve: is the first cranial nerve responsible for sending the sense of smell to the brain.

Rhinoviruses: are the most common viral infective agents in humans and are the predominant cause of the common cold. Rhinovirus infection proliferates in temperatures between 33–35 °C, the temperatures found in the nose.

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