You wake up with your head feeling as if it has been stuffed with a million cotton balls, and someone took sandpaper to your throat during the night. Your achy muscles confirm your suspicions when you climb out of bed — you’re good and sick.
Given the past year’s events, it’s natural to panic, especially if you have not yet gotten vaccinated. Before you flip your inner fear button into overdrive, remember that you can take the following eight steps to prevent spreading your infection and get on the road to recovery more quickly.
1. Keep Your Mouth Clean
You probably know that you shouldn’t kiss your spouse and kids when you get sick. However, did you realize that taking care of your oral hygiene could potentially help you recover from your illness more quickly?
You come into contact with germs before your body reacts with the inflammatory symptoms that make you recognize you feel sick. For example, if you wear a device like a retainer or an aligner, putting it back in without cleaning could multiply the load of bacteria and viruses already in your body. It’s one more reason to always clean these appliances according to your dentist’s directions before bedtime.
You know you need to stay hydrated to remain at your healthy best. It’s easy to get thirsty when you’re sick, though, especially if you struggle to keep fluids down.
However, you will dehydrate even more quickly if you have a fever. Think of it like the desert — those high temperatures dry you up in no time.
If nausea makes drinking problematic, try sucking on ice chips or popsicles. It’s okay to take a break from solid foods, which make you feel even more thirsty. Likewise, avoid anything creamy, as it may trigger vomiting. Take small sips of water or ginger tea.
3. Wash Your Hands
You want to protect your loved ones so that your whole household doesn’t end up coughing and sneezing. Fortunately, you should have plenty of practice singing “Happy Birthday” twice through in your head while you lather up after the past year. Keep a container of hand sanitizer on your night table to remind you to clean your paws before touching anything other people might handle.
Now’s a good time to disinfect all those frequently touched surfaces. Wipe down objects like your computer keyboard and mouse, television remote, light switches, faucets and toilet handles with antimicrobial wipes.
4. Cover Yourself
Even if you don’t have COVID-19, you can still spread germs to vulnerable people. In some, sickness brings on a nasty flare, but in others, it can prove fatal.
Therefore, please mask up if you must run to the store to pick up a bottle of cold medicine and some chicken soup. The people who work in that environment and all others who patronize the facility will thank you. It shouldn’t take a government directive to safeguard others, and masking up offers you some protection against new germs when your immune system is already busy with the problem at hand.
5. Stay Home
Better yet, please stay home when you’re sick if you can do so. Infectious disease spreads through contact with other people, so the less of it you have, the better.
If you are one of the many Americans who doesn’t get paid leave, talk to your employer about telecommuting options, at least on days when you don’t feel well. You have more bargaining power now than ever, so use it. Nearly 40% of respondents to a recent survey reported that they would rather quit than return to the office full-time — requesting a temporary or partial WFH arrangement is now the norm.
6. Take Your Vitamins
Will taking vitamin C or zinc help with a cold? It might — but only if you act quickly.
Taking zinc within 24 hours of your symptom’s start may reduce your cold’s duration. So can vitamin C, but only if you take it regularly. It won’t prevent you from getting sick, but sipping orange juice every day may improve your symptoms.
7. Keep Your Airways Open
Is there anything worse than “cement nose” when you already feel lousy? Now you’re a mouth-breather, too.
Please try to avoid over-the-counter nose sprays containing oxymetazoline. This substance works by shrinking the blood vessels inside nasal passages — but you get awful rebound congestion when it wears off, leading to relying on such medications to breathe even when you aren’t sick.
Instead, investigate options such as Neti pots, which rinse your nasal passages with water to open passages. You can also use saline sprays and steam to ease congestion. Heat a bowl of water and place a towel over your head to trap the moisture as you inhale.
8. Get Plenty of Rest
Finally, your body’s immune cells are waging war. The last thing you want to do is distract those soldiers from their mission at hand.
Therefore, rest as much as you can. Sleep is sometimes the best doctor of all.
Don’t Panic When Sick — Remember These 8 Things
If you wake up feeling under the weather, it’s natural to panic. However, chances are you will be fine if you remember these eight tips to avoid spreading germs and recover more quickly.