The average American battles two to four colds every year, according to the American Lung Association.
That’s a lot of sneezing, runny noses, and coughs. And though most people struggle through and keep going about their day-to-day lives, it’s still incredibly unpleasant.
The internet is awash with advice on how to improve symptoms, including drinking plenty of fluids, getting rest, and stocking up on over-the-counter medication.
But we found some other hacks that will help you survive the common cold.
Keep Empty Kleenex Boxes As Portable Trash Cans
Unless you carry a trashcan with you, a stuffy nose can lead to mounds of tissues scattered around your house as you shuffle from room to room.
Instead, use an empty tissue box as a portable waste basket (either an old box or a new one, with the tissues pulled out and placed in a Ziploc bag). You can also secure the empty box to a full box with rubber bands and/or tape to make it extra convenient.
Buy A Neti Pot, Or Nasal Irrigation System
People who have tried the Neti Pot never go back.
Essentially, a neti pot pours water through your nasal canal and flushes out excess mucus and debris from your nose and sinuses with a sterile water and saline solution.
It might sound gross and uncomfortable, but users claim it provides instant relief from facial pain, sinus pressure, and other nasty symptoms. True believers also say it promotes good sinus and nasal health in the future.
Gargle With Salt Water
Once your sinuses start to drain, they can cause a sore throat. To relieve the pain and reduce swelling, the Mayo Clinic says to gargle with roughly 1/2 teaspoon of salt and one cup of warm water.
The saline will also flush out irritants and bacteria.
Take A Bath With Dr. Bronner’s
Most people feel achy or have the chills while suffering from a cold. Draw a warm bath, and add in some Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap. The peppermint oil will help clear your sinuses, while the warm water loosens mucus and soothes muscles.
If you don’t feel like taking a bath, you can also hover over a bowl or sink of steaming water with a towel over your head to get a similar effect.
Sleep With A Pillow Propping Up Your Head
Sleeping can be hard when you have a cold thanks to body aches, headache, fevers, and coughing.
To make breathing easier and ease sinus pressure, sleep with a few pillows propping your head and shoulders up. It will loosen congestion in the upper body and prevent coughing so you can sleep longer.
Use A Humidifier
Dry weather can make cold symptoms worse, causing mucous to become extra thick and not drain as easily. A home humidifier will add more water to the air, which will in turn break up congestion and improve drainage.
But be cautious. The Mayo Clinic warns that humidifiers can actually make you sick if they aren’t maintained properly, so keep your humidifier clean.
Make A DIY Hot Pack
Brookstone and Amazon also sells hot packs if you don’t feel like making your own.
To sooth your achy body and provide some much needed warmth, make an easy DIY hot pack. All you need is uncooked rice and a long sock (directions here), or you can really go all out and make a fancy one with fabric, a sewing machine, uncooked rice, and essential oils (directions here).
When you’re done, microwave your pack for a minute and 15-30 seconds. The rice retains the heat extremely well so that when you place it on your shoulders, you’ll feel instantly better.
Stock Up On Lemon Juice For Tea
A soothing thing to drink when you’re sick is hot water with honey and lemon. The honey and water are pretty easy to round up in a pinch, but no one wants to squeeze a lemon every time they refresh their drink.
Instead, buy a cheap bottle of lemon juice at the grocery store. That way it’s always on hand when you’re ready for a soothing beverage to ease a cough or sore throat.
Disinfect Everything When You Feel 90% Better
As soon as you start to feel like your old self, take five minutes and wipe down your keyboard, mouse, and desk at work, as well as any surfaces you might have touched at home like your toothbrush, door knobs, sink handles, refrigerator handle, and bedding.
This will help reduce the likelihood of passing your illness on to anyone else in your home, or (worse yet) getting sick all over again.