Spring is almost officially upon us, and that means the beginning of the spring cold and flu season. For whatever reason, whether it’s the rapidly shifting weather patterns that hurl us from almost balmy 60 degree weather to icy and frigid rain in the upper 30’s, many of us and our loved ones will come down with an itchy nose or irritated cough. Sometimes it seems that the only thing more inevitable than the turning of the calendar is that pesky spring cold. We at Think Crucial empathize; we suffer from the crud just like you. However, we’ve also picked up quite a few tricks for beating the spring cold season. Here’s five ways that we’ve learned to beat that spring cold.
Keep That Humidifier Going
One of the primary jobs of the lining of your nose and throat is to keep the germs and bugs out of your lungs. Unfortunately, when the air dries out from air conditioning on the hot days and the heater on the cold days, your nasal lining suffers. And when your nose can’t do its job, you get irritated sinus passages. Doctors say that when your nasal passages are moist, they’re more effective at keeping germs out. So keep your humidifier running. And while you’re at it, make sure that you keep your humidifier’s filter clean and changing it when recommended. The last thing you need is to prevent a cold at the cost of your allergies flaring up from a moldy filter.
It’s well known that there are several herbs that contain anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. They can also alleviate symptoms if you happen to catch a cold. One of the best ways to get those antiviral properties into your system is through aromatherapy. Eucalyptus essential oil is one of the best natural decongestants. A few drops of eucalyptus oil in a cold mist diffuser or humidifier will let the vapors get where they need to and relieve your labored breathing.
Hydration is Important; Choose Green Tea
Another way to keep your sinus cavities and nasal lining moist is by staying hydrated. Drink lots of fluids, including green tea. The reason is because green tea has a specific compound called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. EGCG is an antioxidant found in tea and has been shown to kill the flu virus. Not only that, but EGCG also kills bacteria that cause pneumonia. Whether you drink it iced, or brew it in a stovetop percolator, drinking green tea will help beat that spring cold.
The reason you want to drink green tea is because green and white teas have the highest concentration of EGCG. The oxidation process that turns green and white tea into black teas converts the compound into theaflavins, which have minimal effect on the flu or pneumonia microorganisms.
Eat Local Honey
A study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine demonstrated how honey has specific antimicrobial activities. That means that it will kill pretty much any bacteria or virus that it comes across. Although part of it is because honey is hydroscopic (the honey sucks in water from its surroundings, so it will pull water out of the bacteria it comes across), another part is because honey forms hydrogen peroxide when it breaks down glucose sugars. Honey is also mildly acidic.
It’s important, however, that you get local honey that hasn’t been pasteurized. The heating process of pasteurization will kill the enzymes that produce the hydrogen peroxide. As an added benefit, local honey also will help reduce your allergic reaction to local pollens.
Working out may be one of the best things you can do to beat that spring cold. Regular exercise can help relieve stress. Stress hormones decrease your body’s natural cellular defenses against viruses and bacteria. But that’s not all. Moderate exercise can decrease your risk of catching a cold by over 25 percent. Additionally, if you already have a cold, moderate exercise generates epinephrine. Epinephrine naturally relieves congestion by narrowing the blood vessels in the sinus and nasal cavities.
Working out doesn’t have to be a marathon three times a week either. A 20 minute walk every day is all that you need to do to boost the number of T-cells in your body. T-cells are a specialized white blood cell that targets and kills microbial invaders. According to a study in the American Journal of Medicine, a daily walk for a study group of women cut the number of colds that they caught in half.
Springtime isn’t just a time for cleaning or airing out the house, it’s also a time to catch those sniffles. With these five tips, you can reduce your risk of catching a seasonal flu or cold. And in the event that you or one of your loved ones does catch one, you can help alleviate or reduce the symptoms. After all, less time being sick and more time enjoying the new season is what springtime should be about.
P.S. Just in case you're still interested in spring cleaning (and we're pretty sure you are), check out our tips here!