Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Neil’s guide to surviving a cold


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I’ve been feeling pretty rotten this week, having caught a particularly nasty cold. Presumably from Lizzie; she’s had a cold for a few days now and so her face has been constantly covered in snot. And she likes giving us kisses now, which is cute, but also a sure-fire way to pick up her germs.

I have still gone to work as normal, and I thought I’d write about what I do to get through a rough patch.

Please be aware that I’m not a medical professional, and none of this should be considered medical advice. If a medical professional advises you to do something else, follow their advice, not mine. This is just what works for me.

Get up and get clean

When you’re feeling rough, either because you’re ill or experiencing a decline in mental health, there’s a temptation just to stay in bed. And, if you’re so ill that you really cannot get yourself out of bed, it may be best to stay there – if you have ‘flu for example. But maybe call NHS 111 if this happens, just in case it’s something more serious.

If you can get yourself out of bed, then do. Have a shower, and put on clean clothes. Brush your teeth. Shave, if you have facial hair. You probably do these things anyway, but make a special effort to do so. If you’re feverish, then you may have shed a lot of sweat, so getting yourself clean and fresh should help.

Get some fresh air

Go outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes. If you can’t, at least try to get a window open. I felt noticeably better as soon as I got out of the house.

Go to work, if you can

This is a subjective point. I have a desk job, so work isn’t too strenuous; plus, this week a lot of people were off so the office was quiet. Also, I take the train to work, so there was no need to drive; I would have been less likely to go in otherwise. Being at work, seeing other people and being productive actually made me feel better.

Drink plenty of fluids

I mentioned fever sweats – you’re more likely to get dehydrated when you’re ill, so drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol; the odd hot toddy is probably okay but too much alcohol can leave you dehydrated and feeling even worse. Stick to no more than one average-strength alcoholic drink a day.

Take paracetamol

Paracetamol (acetaminophen to Americans) is cheap, and can help ease your symptoms. Adults can usually take two tablets no less than four hours apart (but always read the label).

Get plenty of rest and avoid stress

Finally, whilst I do advise getting out during the day, rest is also really important when you’re ill. Go to bed early, and avoid doing too many strenuous or stressful activities so that your body has time to recover.

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