6 Weird Ways to Kill a Cold

Strategies to relieve the common cold

To Your Health

6 Weird Ways to Kill a Cold

Until there’s a real cure, why not try one of these strategies?

-Susan Crandell

Woman breathing deepAs we hit the home stretch on cold and flu season, we’re all getting weary of sniffling and sneezing. Everybody knows that washing hands can beat back germs, but what else can we do to ease a wintry illness or even stop it in its tracks?

Don’t Blow Your Nose–Really! This is no joke. A hearty nose-blow can drive mucus up into your sinuses. In recent research at the University of Virginia, it happened every time. The best method for staying unstuffed: blow one nostril gently, and then the other. Or use a decongestant.

Don’t Cancel Your Workout A study at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana found that having a cold did not affect lung function or exercise capacity. While exercisers took just as long to recover from their colds as a control group and experienced similar symptoms, they often reported feeling better throughout.

Avoid Dry Air Like the Plague Studies show that flu spreads more effectively in dry air. When absolute humidity (how much water is in the air) is low, the virus survives longer while airborne. If the air in your house is unusually dry, a humidifier may make sense.

Bake Your Cold
In a notable exception to the moist-air rule, an Australian research team found that using a sauna can relieve cold symptoms and reduce recurrence. At the end of a six-month study, the group that sauna-ed regularly had fewer colds.

Don’t Get Chilled Your grandmother may have been right when she said to put on a jacket so you won’t catch a cold. When researchers at the Common Cold Centre soaked volunteers’ feet in ice water, they caught twice as many colds as the control group. Best theory: Asymptomatic viruses replicated in nasal passages when blood vessels contracted in response to the chill, becoming symptomatic.

Hibernate People who slept less than seven hours a night were nearly three times as likely to catch a cold than ones who got eight hours or more, according to a study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine. How much shut-eye does the average American get? Just 6.3 hours on weeknights. So pull up the covers, turn out the light, and catch a few more zzzzs.

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