Illness and loneliness are getting people down this week

Here at MoodPanda we’ve noticed a major slump in the global mood since Saturday and it seems that illness and loneliness are trending reasons for the slump.

If you’re feeling lonely, give someone on MoodPanda a hug, get to know us, make a new MoodPanda friend :-)

If you’re feeling the effects of the common cold this week you may be interested in these top tips for effectively battling the common cold, posted by Whitson Gordon on

If you have any favourite remedies, share them in the comments below!

Things You Can Do at Home (That Won’t Cost You an Arm and a Leg)

When most of us get sick, the first thing we do is rush to the drug store to stock up on over-the-counter medicines: Whether it’s the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (found in cough syrups like Robitussin) or the antihistamine doxylamine succinate (found in the sleep-inducing Nyquil). Oddly enough, though, the most well-supported cold treatments are things you can find lying around the house. We’ve talked about winterizing your body for the chilly months to come, but if you start to feel a cold coming on, here are some of the best options for taking care of yourself.

Gargle with Salt Water

How to Most Effectively Battle the Common Cold
We’ve actually mentioned this remedy before, but it bears repeating: One of the oldest tricks in your mother’s book, it seems that gargling with salt water is actually an effective home treatment for the common cold. Not only does it alleviate throat pain and loosen irritating mucous, but it can even help prevent colds: A study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found people that gargled warm salt water three times a day were less likely to get sick during cold season. Just dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water, gargle for a few seconds, and spit it out. Photo by Casey Serin.

Try a Little Honey

How to Most Effectively Battle the Common Cold
Another popular home remedy with some strong evidence behind it is honey. A 2007 Penn State University study found that one to two teaspoons of honey is not only effective at treating nocturnal cough, but it’s actually more effective than dextromethorphan, the cough suppressant found in oh-so-popular cough syrups we mob to. Photo by Bethany Egan.

Congestion Irrigation: The Neti Pot and Nasal Sprays

How to Most Effectively Battle the Common Cold
If you’re experiencing some nasal congestion, one of the best ways to get rid of it is to rinse it out at the source using a saline nasal spray, or other similar irrigation technique. Not only have researchers found that it reduces the severity of congestion, but that also reduces infection. While you can buy many such nasal sprays over-the-counter, you can also make your own at home by mixing a quarter teaspoon salt, a quarter teaspoon baking soda, and 8 ounces of warm water (or some similar variation). You an either spray it into your nose via a bulb syringe, or use a tool like the ever-popular neti pot to clear your nasal passageway. It can be a bit daunting for some, but it’s been shown to be pretty effective and have little or no side effects, so if you’re serious about feeling better, it’s a good method to try. Photo by Dennis Yang.

Keep Your Stress Level Down

How to Most Effectively Battle the Common ColdWe’ve made a few mentions of how stress can affect your health: if you have more psychological stress in your life, you’re likely to have health issues. Even if you’re lucky enough to escape the serious issues like depression and anxiety, you’re still susceptible to cold and other illnesses: The Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University found a significant relationship between stress and acute illnesses. Everyone’s stress is different, so examine your own life and be sure to keep up with our favorite stress-relieving tactics here at Lifehacker to stay healthy. Photo by John Mayer.

Get Plenty of Rest

How to Most Effectively Battle the Common Cold
It’s one of the first pieces of advice you get when you’re sick, but we can never stress it enough: give your body time to fight off the virus, and don’t waste that energy elsewhere. A number of studies (such as this one from the Archives of Internal Medicine) found that sleep deprivation results in poorer immune function. Not only do good sleep habits help you fight off a cold, but they will even increase your resistance to catching one in the first place. So, if you’re sick, it’s important to get plenty of rest—but don’t neglect it when you’re healthy either. Make sure this is quality sleep, too: drugs like NyQuil contain alcohol, and we already know what that does to your sleep cycle. You’ll fall asleep quickly, but you won’t get the deep sleep you need to get better. Photo by Craig Dennis.

Unproven, But Unharmful: Good Ol’ H2O

While the above remedies have quite a bit of supporting evidence, other oft-recommended treatments, mentioned in this section, have either received little attention or have yet to produce conclusive evidence. The plus side: These methods aren’t likely to hurt you, so there’s no reason not to give them a bit of attention on your sick days.

Increase Your Fluid Intake

How to Most Effectively Battle the Common Cold
Very little hard research has been done on the link between fluid intake and alleviating cold symptoms, but it’s long been one of the first pieces of advice given to cold sufferers. Drinking lots of fluids during a cold is said to break up your congestion, keep you hydrated and keep your throat moist. I had a tough time finding actual studies about the common cold and hydration, but it’s no secret that hydration is good for your body and your health—it is, after all, one of those things necessary to bodily function—so there’s no reason to not continue following this advice. In fact, this is good advice even when you’re not sick. Just remember not to go overboard. Photo by Brian Turner.

Inhale Steam

How to Most Effectively Battle the Common Cold

We’ve advocated using humidifiers in your home on more than one occasion, and while there are definitely a lot of good reasons to maintain good humidity levels (from keeping your walls in good condition to avoiding nasty static electricity), the research on its effect on congestion is actually inconclusive. A Cochrane review found that only three out of six trials found benefits of steam for symptom relief. However, apart from some minor side effects (such as nasal discomfort or irritation), humidification carries little risk and provides other benefits for your home, so there’s no reason to avoid it. If you’d rather not spend money on a humidifier, other sources of steam (such as a hot shower) can serve the same purpose.

Treatments to Skip: Alternative Remedies

Apart from the popular over-the-counter cold medicine ingredients (like the few mentioned above), a few other widely discussed treatments have yet to be proven effective, and also carry unnecessary side effects. These are the treatments you probably don’t need.

Vitamin C

How to Most Effectively Battle the Common Cold

People have studied and argued about the effectiveness of Vitamin C for decades, and a Cochrane review of trials on the subject found megadosing (you know—taking handfuls of the vitamin when you come down with the cold) Vitamin C to be mostly ineffective. While there are a few exceptions in the literature (most notably athletes and those subject to cold environments), it doesn’t look like Vitamin C is the miracle cold cure that many people swear it is. However, it carries little risk, so as long as you don’t go overboard with it, feel free to drink up that orange juice—just don’t rely on any magical powers therein. You’re probably best off staying away from high-dose Vitamin C formulations like Airborne, though, since they not only contain high levels of other, megadose-unfriendly vitamins (such as Vitamin A), but they also include unnecessarily high amounts of Vitamin C, which may have unwelcome side effects in those susceptible to kidney stones.


How to Most Effectively Battle the Common Cold
Echinacea is an herbal remedy said to enhance the immune system and reduce the severity and duration of the common cold. It’s popular, but once again, not likely that beneficial: a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that it was flat out not effective at preventing nor alleviating cold symptoms. Photo by London Looks.

That said, Echinacea is a complicated treatment as well: There are many different types, strengths, and parts of the Echinacea root that have all produced different results, so unlike Vitamin C (which has been studied over and over again), the results on Echinacea are not consistent. It doesn’t have a ton of side effects (other than a possible upset stomach), but allergies and other drugs can cause some more severe issues if you’re not careful. Furthermore, herbal supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA. When it comes down to it, it’s a crapshoot as to whether the product you’re buying is going to help or not.


How to Most Effectively Battle the Common Cold

Another popular alternative medicine treatment is zinc, both in the form of throat lozenges or nasal sprays. Quite a few studies have been done on the treatment, but again, only some of them found positive results. In those examples, high doses of zinc did significantly reduce the severity and duration of the common cold—especially when taken at the first sign of a cold—but the side effects hardly make it worth the unproven possibility that it will help. Mild side effects include mouth irritation, a seriously awful metallic taste in your mouth, and stomach upset, while other studies have shown that high doses of zinc can lead to a loss of taste or smell. While shorter-term use is likely safer than long-term use, you’re once again better off saving your money.

by Whitson Gordon on

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