Holiday Stress Reduction

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, there’s a lot of opportunity for stress. The holidays can be a beautiful time of year to make fantastic memories – but it’s also when high expectations and being thrown together with (occasionally difficult) family can make you equally miserable.

But, there are ways to mitigate the effects of stress to enjoy this time of year fully with a minimum of emotional turmoil – keep reading to discover thirteen effective stress reduction strategies to get you through the season.

Have Realistic Expectations

Your holidays don’t need to be perfect or happen just like prior year’s celebrations. As our families change and we grow older; rituals and traditions often must change.

Hold on to the most important ones, but be open to starting new ones. For example, if your grown children can’t make it home this year, try finding new ways to celebrate as a family, such as using Skype and sharing pictures or videos by email.

It’s also important to realize that your 14 year old won’t be as enthusiastic about some holiday traditions as he or she was when they were only eight. It can be disappointing not to share a particular movie or trip because a child has outgrown it. Accept that this is a natural part of life and move on.

Make Peace with Family Members

Make an effort to accept your family members and friends the way they are, especially when they don’t live up to your expectations. Lay aside any grievances until after the holidays and try to see both sides of the situation. Also, be as understanding as possible when others get hurt or angry when something goes wrong. The odds are that they’re experiencing the effects of holiday season stress too.

Plan Ahead

This is the most critical time of year to have a plan. Preparing for family gatherings, travel, accommodations, and of course, gift giving, will ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.

Planning will minimize the chances of things going wrong or getting caught unprepared at the worst possible time. Set aside time to get the shopping done, make travel arrangements well in advance, schedule car or home maintenance beforehand to avoid the stress of home heating problems or getting stuck on the road. With the season’s chores, activities, and commitments set out in advance you’ll enjoy more and stress less.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

No one wants to be rude or hurt anyone’s feelings on purpose – but it’s important to know when to say no. Saying yes to someone when you should have said no could leave you overwhelmed and feeling resentful. Friends, family, and office mates will understand if you aren’t able to join in every holiday project or activity. Even when it’s not possible to refuse when the boss needs you to work overtime, you may still be able to change something else on your schedule to make up for lost time.

Share the Load

Many of us take on too much over the holidays. Whether it’s cooking, baking, decorating or planning activities – you need to know when to delegate some of the work. Taking on too much responsibility or work can cause high levels of stress that will ruin any enjoyment for you.

Be willing to admit that you can’t do it all by yourself and just as ready to ask others to lend a hand.

Take a Break

The holidays can be overwhelming – between Halloween, Thanksgiving, religious holidays and New Year’s Eve; it’s a non-stop roller coaster ride of festivities for over two months. Don’t feel guilty about taking a break from it all. Sometimes a little alone time or scheduling a break from seasonal activities will keep you refreshed and able to appreciate the festivities better with less stress.

Get Enough Sleep

Chronic sleep deprivation can cause a lot of health problems (and even weight gain), so it’s’ crucial that you get enough sleep during this busy time. While late nights with friends can be an enjoyable way to pass the time, getting too little sleep for too long will eventually catch up to you and make many other holiday commitments unnecessarily stressful as you deal with excess fatigue and struggle to stay awake.

Make Time for Exercise

Being busy with holiday preparations, keeping up with work commitments, and attending to family shouldn’t keep you exercising. Keeping to your fitness routine over the holiday provides you with:

Important time for yourself

A way to keep holiday weight gain to a minimum
A great way to relieve holiday season stress

If you don’t have a fitness routine – then this is a great time to start one. December is the time of year when the gyms are least crowded.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Although a couple of drinks can be an excellent way to relieve stress; drinking to excess will damage your health. This is especially true for people who don’t ordinarily drink very much throughout the rest of the year. A sudden increase in drinking over the holidays is the cause of holiday heart, a type of heart arrhythmia caused by alcohol affecting heart tissue adversely.

Pick Your Fights

Arguments are inevitable when people are thrown together for any activity, but especially the holidays. Keep stress to a minimum by picking your fights.

Is it that important that someone is seated next to somebody else or that a meal is served a particular way? Try to determine the situations when it’s important to stick to your guns or better to just let it go and avoid a confrontation.

Things Will Go Wrong

The kids will fight, decorations will break, plumbing will fail, you’ll argue with your siblings over stupid things, etc. Keep your perspective and anticipate that things will go wrong. If you go into the holidays expecting that there will be some difficulties, then you’ll stress less when they do happen.

Keep Electronics Charged

Avoid the stress of missing a picture or video opportunity because the smartphone is out of juice. Make sure that you won’t ever miss the perfect holiday shot (or a call) by keeping the phone, tablet, and digital camera charged and ready for use.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Finally, remember to enjoy yourself. The whole point of being together with friends and family is to enjoy each other’s company. Instead of stressing, try to take advantage of the holidays to enjoy the festivities. It could be a fun day getting a Christmas tree with the family and decorating it, or going ice skating with your partner; instead of stressing over it remember to have fun.

11 Holiday Health Tips

Holiday stress tipsThe holiday season between November and December means that the average American will gain between five and ten pounds of weight. When you include the effects of increased alcohol consumption, skipped workouts so you can make time for shopping and visiting family – the holidays can be a challenge to anyone’s health.

But, there are ways to avoid the worst of it.

The holidays aren’t the time to lose weight, but it doesn’t have to be an excuse to ruin your health. The trick is to go into this time of year with a plan. Here are eleven ways to maintain your health through the unavoidable get-togethers, parties, and family functions.

#1 Don’t Get Sick

Winter is cold and flu season. Avoid infection by regularly washing your hands and urging others you work or live with to do the same. Keep warm by layering clothes so you can quickly take a layer off when indoors to avoid over-heating. Use salt or grit liberally on any icy patches. Keep a close eye on little ones and the elderly, who are at higher risk of falls during this time.

#2 Avoid Excess Stress

The holiday months are a necessarily stressful time. You’re managing work responsibilities along with added commitments to friends and family. The stress of paying for gifts and emotional strain of dealing with difficult family members can be overwhelming. Anticipate these sources of stress and prepare for them. This could mean committing to fewer social gatherings or sticking to a strict budget.

#3 Don’t Think that this is the Most Depressing time of Year

Holiday Depression is fakeYour mental outlook has a strong influence on your health. Keep a positive attitude, and many potential crises will turn out to be only inconveniences. In fact, depression isn’t more common during the holidays, and suicide rates in the United States are lowest in December. Enjoy the season, but don’t over-think things like party invitations, absent loved ones, and unexpected problems.

#4 Take Your Vitamins

While it’s not exactly a happy pill, some supplements may elevate your mood. Some studies show that consuming omega-3 fatty acids could help relieve depression; other research has concluded that increased vitamin D intake may improve mood. Consider adding a daily omega-3 or vitamin D supplement to your diet. You can also just increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3s, such as fish, flaxseed, and walnuts and drinking more vitamin D fortified milk.

#5 Don’t Obsess over Social Media

This is the time of year when people are posting to social media to show off the trips, gifts, and holiday bonuses they’re enjoying. Take it all with a grain of salt – much posted to social media is exaggerated or utterly false. Even when someone’s impressive holiday posts are true; remember that you’re not the only one who didn’t spend New Year’s Eve in Bali.

#6 Try to Catch-up during Weekends

There is a lot going on, and it can be difficult to catch up on sleep and household chores. Use your days off to try and catch up on all of it. With a little planning in advance, you should be able to schedule eight hours of sleep, putting the house in order, shopping, and anything else that has to be done. The most important thing is to get some quality sack time – sleep deprivation could cause all sorts of health problems, and chronic sleep deprivation has been identified as a risk factor for diabetes and weight gain.

#7 Moderate Your Alcohol Consumption

Moderate alcohol consumptionDrinking too much could result in a severe hangover, but that isn’t all you need to worry about. This is the time of year that doctors also report observing a significant spike in erratic heartbeats also called holiday heart syndrome. It’s more prevalent in people who aren’t usually heavy drinkers but drink a lot for a short time. Doctors believe that past a certain amount, alcohol could be toxic enough to cardiac cells that it disrupts the normal heart rate.

Try these ways to keep holiday drinks from impacting your health:

  • Put ice in your drinks. The ice will melt, dilute the strength of the drink and reduce your alcohol (and calorie) intake
  • Stop drinking at least a couple of hours before going to sleep. Metabolizing alcohol will disrupt sleep patterns, cause you to wake frequently, and keeps you from getting the full restorative benefits of sleep.
  • Just say no. It isn’t rude to politely refuse a drink when you don’t want one.

#8 Travel Safely

Make sure that you’re in good condition to drive before getting in the car. If you’re tired or have had a couple of drinks too many – don’t get behind the wheel. Never be in such a rush that seatbelts and child car seats are being used correctly. A car accident may ruin some other family’s holidays as well as yours.

#9 Make Time for Exercise

While fitting in time for everybody and everything else, don’t forget to make time to take care of yourself. As difficult as it may seem, keep to your fitness routine (if you have one). If you don’t exercise regularly, there’s no reason not to start now. If you join a gym this is the emptiest time of year – there’ll always be a treadmill or exercise bike available!

#10 Stock the Fridge with Healthy Eating Options

From the office to your Aunt’s living room; there’s going to be sweets, pastries, and cakes everywhere. Take care of your health by stocking your refrigerator with healthy foods. Keep a ready supply of fruit juices, vegetables, lean meats, dairy, and nuts to get the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and essential fats that can help undo some of the damage from the six donuts you had at work today.

#11 Politely Refuse More Often Than Not

politely refuse foodAs difficult as it may be, sometimes it’s best to politely decline that extra slice of pie and risk offending somebody. The weight gain people typically experience over the holidays is strictly the result of over-eating. Minimize the damage from eating way more than you do the rest of the year by learning to refuse offered food.

I know, it’s your mom or grandmother’s traditional holiday cookies or cakes, and it can seem rude or hurtful to refuse – but if you want to keep your holiday weight gain to a minimum; it’s the only way to go.

Are Ketones Good for You?

For decades the advice has been to eat a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat to prevent many chronic illnesses – especially heart disease. We’ve also been taught that the brain needs copious amounts of glucose in the form of sugars to work at peak efficiency. But, what if that advice was wrong?

There’s been lots of buzz recently about an alternate energy source that our bodies and brains can use: Ketones.

According to the most recent research, ketones are a naturally occurring substance that the human body can produce under certain conditions, and may offer a broad range of health benefits that starches and sugars don’t.

What Are Ketones

To understand ketones, and their role in human nutrition we need to go back to our early hunter/gatherer origins before the advent of agriculture.

For early man, there was no such thing as three meals per day. People ate when food was available and went hungry when food ran out until a new supply could be gathered or hunted down. We can assume that they went hungry more often than not – between winter shortages, the occasional drought and over-hunting an area, food could be scarce for weeks at a time.

When there isn’t a ready supply of the glucose which the body uses as its principal fuel source, and glycogen levels have been depleted, the body looks for another source of fuel – stored fat. This can happen when someone fasts, during starvation, or when eating a low-carb diet.

When the body breaks down fats for energy, ketones are produced to fuel the body and brain. This is known as being in ketosis.

People following a ketogenic (low-carb) diet intentionally reduce their carbohydrate intake to below 50 grams of carbs per day to produce ketones for energy. Recent studies have concluded that there are some incredible benefits to eating a ketogenic diet.

Ketones fight Diabetes

Eating a ketogenic diet keeps blood glucose levels at a low (but, still healthy) level which stimulates the break down of body fat into ketones. Being in ketosis can mean that people taking insulin may require smaller doses, which minimizes the risk of health-damaging dosing errors. A ketogenic diet encourages the body to burn fat and therefore causing weight loss that can help eliminate one risk factor for diabetes or reverse prediabetes if it’s already a problem.

Ketones and Brain Health

According to several recent studies, using ketones instead of sugar as the primary source of the body’s energy can have a protective effect on the brain. In the 1920s researchers found out that a ketogenic diet controlled epilepsy, and ketosis is still one of the most effective treatments for it. Since then, further studies have confirmed that ketones can alter brain metabolism in ways that help many neurological problems and even improve behavioral issues like ADHD.

Over the last ten years, other studies have supported the health benefits of ketosis in patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. A 2004 study treated twenty individuals with Alzheimer’s or mild dementia with a placebo or ketones. Treatment increased the level of ketone 90 minutes later, and these higher ketone levels corresponded with greater memory improvements.

Heart Benefits

ketones and heart healthBy severely restricting sugar and starch intake, the ketogenic diet already reduces a major risk factor for heart disease: Obesity. But, using ketones for energy has other benefits for our cardiovascular health.

Changing to a ketogenic diet reduces almost all risk factors for heart disease. When carbohydrate intake is reduced, and fat intake is increased, these cardiovascular disease risk markers change:

  • Blood glucose levels drop, reducing tissue damage from glycation (internal ‘cooking’ of proteins)
  • Triglycerides in the blood are reduced
  • There is an increase in ‘good’ cholesterol
  • Blood sugar and insulin levels go down

Slowing the Aging Process

slowing the aging processKetogenic diets that encourage the production of ketones could slow the aging process in two ways:

  1. The ketogenic diet can reduce oxidative damage inside the body, and increases the levels of uric acid and other powerful antioxidants in the body. As written earlier, recent studies have suggested that ketosis and the relying on ketones for energy could provide relief for many neurological disorders. Besides Alzheimer’s disease, ketones could help heal ALS, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. There is even one study that showed a ketone called beta-hydroxybutyrate could slow down aging by initiating a gene which modifies factors related to the aging process.
  2. Ketones support mitochondrial function by increasing glutathione, a potent antioxidant found in all our cells that functions directly inside the mitochondria (power generators in the cells). This is critical because the antioxidants we eat in our diet can’t easily make it into the mitochondria.

Ketones in Your Diet

Besides eating a low-carb diet, there are other ways to increase your ketone levels. Coconut oil is almost 65 percent ketones (in the form of medium chain triglycerides) and has been used by people to help improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological issues.

It’s also possible to purchase medium chain triglyceride oil online and in many health food stores. There is also an increasing number of ketone containing drinks hitting the market. But, maintaining a low-carb diet is still one of the most convenient ways to reap the health benefits of ketones.

Does My Baby Have Sandifer’s Syndrome?

Sandifiers syndromeYour baby isn’t gaining weight properly, sleeps poorly, spits up or frequently chokes when feeding and suffers from repeated lung infections – and worse of all; is making seizure-like movements of the back and neck. Could it be Sandifer’s syndrome?

Sandifer’s syndrome is a stomach disorder that can cause a baby to make disturbing and seizure-like movements that resemble an epileptic attack. These symptoms will usually be seen in children from shortly after birth up to adolescence in some cases. But, it’s most commonly seen in children from 18 to 24 months of age.

When the symptoms are seen in older children, they are typically mentally impaired, suffer spasticity or already have other neurological disorders.

According to an article in the journal Pediatrics International, Sandifer’s syndrome is a rare disorder that affects about one percent of children and is often misdiagnosed as some neurological problem because the symptoms don’t look like a stomach problem.

What is Sandifer’s syndrome?

what is sandifers syndromeSandifer’s syndrome isn’t a disease, it’s a collection of symptoms that can be caused by acid reflux, and these symptoms may include:

  • Torticollis, which is an involuntary and chronic movement of the child’s neck
  • Dystonia, twisting and writhing movements that place the child in an abnormal posture because of involuntary muscle contractions
  • Head nodding (the baby tips the chin down)
  • Gurgling noises
  • Back arching

Chronic acid reflux in children is usually called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.

Signs of GERD

According to recent research, the common warning signs of the GERD that may create the symptoms of Sandifer’s syndrome are:

  • Being frequently irritable
  • Difficulty swallowing or choking spells
  • Holding breath for short periods
  • Vomiting
  • Back arching and head jerking
  • Unusual eye movements

More severe warning signs are frequently contracting lung infections (pneumonia) which researchers believe is the body’s reaction to the pain of acid reflux or irritation of the esophagus. Feeding difficulties and not gaining weight on schedule are two other warning signs that a baby is dealing with the discomfort and pain of gastrointestinal problems.

What Causes Sandifer’s Syndrome?

Sandifer’s syndrome is a poorly understood health issue. Research hasn’t yet discovered what cause the symptoms of Sandifer’s syndrome. What doctors do realize is that the symptoms frequently come with stomach acid moving back up into the esophagus (acid reflux). The esophagus is the section of a child’s digestive tract that brings food from the mouth to the stomach. The theory is that the pain of stomach contents, acid or gas coming back up the esophagus could be the cause of Sandifer’s syndrome symptoms.

Treating Sandifer’s Syndrome

treating sandifers syndromeDoctors will focus on treating the symptoms of Sandifer syndrome and trying to fix whatever is causing the child’s persistent acid reflux problem, which the doctor may also call gastroesophageal reflux disease. The best way to treat this problem depends on the child’s symptoms and stage of development.

The doctor could prescribe:

  • Feeding changes
  • Antacid medicines
  • Even surgery

There are various methods a pediatrician could use to correct the problems that may be causing the symptoms of Sandifer’s syndrome.

Feeding Changes for Sandifer’s Syndrome

According to currently accepted recommendations, a doctor could begin treating the child’s acid reflux issues by asking parents to change the way they handle feedings.

Changes may involve:

  • Not overfeeding
  • Keeping babies upright for a half hour after feeding
  • Using a predigested protein formula for a few weeks if sensitivity to milk proteins is suspected

Parents could also be told to mix some rice cereal with the baby formula to help buffer the stomach acid that might be causing the Sandifer’s symptoms. If the child is still experiencing acid reflux after the feeding changes have been made and yet has problems gaining weight, growing, feeding or sleeping well, the next treatment could be antacid drugs.

Medicine for Sandifer’s Syndrome

Drugs that the doctor could prescribe to treat acid reflux and resolve the symptoms of Sandifer’s syndrome may include antacids like; Tagament, Pepcid, Axid or Zantac. There is also a class of drugs that inhibit stomach acid production called proton pump inhibitors that could be used. Proton pump inhibitors include Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.

When Surgery is Required

Sometimes the acid reflux issues that result in Sandifer’s syndrome require surgical intervention. When surgery is recommended, the procedure that may be used is Nissen fundoplication. This is the repositioning and stitching of the upper part of the stomach around the spot where it attaches to the stomach.

In Nissen fundoplication, the surgeon wraps the top of the stomach around the bottom of the esophagus. Doing this tightens the opening of the food passage to fix the problem that could have let stomach acid back up into it.

What’s the Prognosis for Sandifer’s Syndrome?

The Mayo Clinic says that it’s uncommon for GERD and the symptoms of Sandifer’s disease to continue after the baby reaches approximately 18 months of age. The acid reflux that may be causing Sandifer’s symptoms is almost never a serious medical problem and typically becomes less of an issue as the child grows older.

Preparing for Cold and Flu Season

Cold or Flu – The Best and Worst Ways to Fight Winter Viruses

Cold and flu season is here again, and it seems like everyone has advice about how to avoid illness or get better quicker it if you do catch something. But there are lots of myths being passed around about how best to get over a winter bug, especially remedies that have been handed down for generations that have no basis in fact.

Here’s a rundown of the seven worst and three best ways to either avoid getting sick in the first place – or treat your symptoms if you do.

7 Cold and Flu Myths You Should Forget

Here are the old wives tales most of us have heard since childhood. While many may seem to make sense – scientific evidence indicates that these words of wisdom are anything but.

1) You Can ‘Sweat Out’ a Cold

Trying to get over a cold quicker by sweating it out won’t accomplish anything. The common cold can be caused by well over 200 different viruses. Regardless of what you do, it can take from several days to a few weeks for your immune system to get a cold out of your system. Worse, if you don’t keep hydrated during your attempts at ‘sweating it out,’ you’ll possibly do more harm than good since even mild dehydration will make your mucus thicker and harder to clear.

2) Don’t Exercise when you’re Fighting a Cold

While you will need to rest, exercising a little could help you to feel better.
A study from Ball State University divided volunteers with severe colds into two groups, one of which exercised for thirty minutes a day, five days a week. The second group was instructed to only rest. Test-subjects from both groups experienced cold symptoms for about 8 days which peaked during the morning hours. But, the exercisers reported feeling better in the afternoon and evening than the resting group did.

While exercise is good for you, you shouldn’t overdo it when you’re feeling poorly. Hard workouts (more than an hour) could actually weaken your immunity.

3) Avoid Dairy when you have a Cold

There’s absolutely no medical benefit to avoiding dairy when you’re sick. Although many people, including some doctors, think that dairy consumption increases mucus secretion, research shows that this is probably just the placebo effect. In a recent study, people who were told that they were drinking cow’s milk reported more severe nasal symptoms than people who were told that they were drinking soy milk. But when the same individuals didn’t know which milk they were drinking they reported the same effects – none.

If you do find that you or a family member get sinusitis (sinus inflammation) or ear infection after consuming dairy; the problem may be a dairy allergy rather than anything cold or flu-related.

4) You can catch a Cold from Being Cold

Everybody should know by now that the only thing that causes a cold is the cold virus. But many of us still cling to the belief that going out in the cold when not dressed warmly enough or while your hair is wet is an express ticket to a cold or flu. This is just a case of guilt by association; yes, we tend to get sick more often during the winter – but it’s not the cold that’s to blame.

The real reason cases of cold and flu spike in the winter months is proximity. When the weather turns nasty, we tend to spend more time indoors, which increases the odds that we’ll pass viruses to each other by sneezing and physical contact. Being poorly dressed against the cold can be dangerous to your health (hypothermia), but it won’t make it any likelier that you’ll be infected with a virus.

5) You’re not Contagious if you Don’t have a Fever

When you have a cold, you’ll be most contagious in the first two to three days, whether you’ve got a fever or not, according to the National Institutes of Health. The contagious period of a cold virus is typically over sometime between seven and ten days after onset. And adults or older children will generally experience a very low fever or even no fever at all. Young kids, though, will often have a fever that hovers around 100° to 102°F.

Flu can be sneaky as well: The CDC says that most healthy adults could be able to infect others from as early as one day before showing apparent symptoms and for a further five days afterward, whether or not they have a fever. Children with weaker immune systems can be contagious for more than a week.

6) Antibiotics will cure a Cold or Flu

This one myth is not only false but has caused a great deal of damage our general health. The over-prescription of antibiotics has created numerous strains of antibiotic-resistant viruses for which we no longer have many effective treatments left to use.

It’s true that in cases of bacterial infection that a course of antibiotics will help you get better faster, but they are ineffective when dealing with a viral infection. For example, if suspect that you have strep throat, the doctor will take a culture to determine whether or not the bacteria that causes strep is present. If so, he’ll prescribe a round of antibiotics to get rid of it fast – but if the test is negative and you’re experiencing the symptoms of strep; it’s likely a virus causing your discomfort. All antibiotics will do at that point is risk creating a resistant strain of any bacteria that are present.

7) Vitamin C Cures Colds and Flu

Sadly, this belief isn’t supported by science.

In 2007, researchers examined the results of 29 different studies searching for any effects vitamin C can have on colds. They concluded that taking at least 200 milligrams of vitamin C every day (not just when you’re sick) might make your symptoms go away about one day sooner than if you didn’t.

And the benefit ends there.

Following a daily vitamin C supplement regimen didn’t make it less likely that people will catch a cold. Furthermore, starting vitamin C once a cold had already begun didn’t have any positive effect either. This study concluded that vitamin C doesn’t work any better than a placebo.

8) A Cold can turn into the Flu

Both the common cold and influenza are caused by completely entirely viruses. So a cold virus won’t change into the one that causes flu. If you get the flu, it’s because it was a flu virus to begin with. Since these two illnesses have very similar symptoms, it can be hard to tell the difference between them based solely on how bad you feel. A good rule of thumb is that (typically) flu symptoms are worse than you’ll feel with a cold, with more serious symptoms, like a fever, painful body aches, tiredness, and a persistent, dry cough. A cold is also more likely to be accompanied by a stuffy or a runny nose. Colds won’t usually result in more serious problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or being hospitalized.

3 Ways to Feel Better Faster

1) Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water to stay well-hydrated will make mucous thinner and easier to clear. Besides water you can drink juice, soup broth or a soothing mix of warm lemon water with honey to help loosen congestion causing mucous and stay hydrated. You should avoid caffeinated sodas, alcohol or coffee which act as diuretics and can make encourage dehydration.

2) Use a Humidifier

Adding moisture to the air in your home with a cool mist humidifier or vaporizer might help loosen up congestion in your lungs and nasal passages. Make sure that you change the water every day, and clean the appliance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Whatever you do, don’t use hot steam, it hasn’t been shown to help any better than a cool mist and carries the risk of burns.

3) OTC Cold and Cough Medicines

These won’t prevent illness or in any way shorten the duration of a cold or flu, but OTC medications will make the symptoms of illness more bearable. Pain reducers will relieve the head and body ache (neuralgia) that accompanies infection. Decongestants will clear your sinuses and allow you to breathe clearly. Cough medicines will keep you from irritating your throat and lungs with constant coughs.