These 8 Common Mistakes Make Colds Worse

common cold bug
Photo: Pixabay CC0

The nose is running, the throat is scratching and the head is hurting: almost everyone catches a cold in the cold season. There are many home remedies that will help get rid of them quickly – but there are also some that have the opposite effect. If your cold gets better and worse again, you should avoid the following mistakes.

A simple cold is relatively harmless, but if you are careless or don’t treat it properly, you risk spending the whole autumn or winter with a runny nose or prolonging the illness. To get rid of them quickly, you should definitely avoid these nine mistakes when you have a cold:

1. Using the nasal spray incorrectly

Nasal spray gives you quick relief from a stuffy nose – but you should be careful and not use the spray too often or for a long time. Once your mucous membranes have gotten used to the active ingredients, it can happen that the nasal mucous membranes swell even more.

If you then continue to use nasal spray, you risk chronic colds. The irritated nasal mucous membranes can dry out and no longer fulfill their defense function – which in turn clears the way for germs. You should therefore use nasal sprays for a week at most. Even better: Use homemade nasal spray to get rid of a cold quickly.

2. Mistakes with colds: blow your nose hard and pull up nasal mucus

A runny nose is uncomfortable, as is constant sniffling and sniffling. But somehow you have to get rid of the nasal mucus. However, blowing your nose hard is not helpful because you press the secretion into the sinuses up to the auditory tube. In the worst case, this can lead to a sinus and middle ear infection.

Pulling up the nasal mucus instead and swallowing it down the throat does not make sense either. The infectious secretion can trigger a sore throat or sore throat. Better: Dab off the nasal secretion or blow your nose with little pressure.

3. Staying in bed to get rid of the cold quickly

Sleep sustainably: mattress, duvet, pillow, bed linen
It’s tempting, but you shouldn’t stay in bed all the time when you have a cold. (Photo: © Saimen. /

Anyone who has a cold often feels listless and tired – and therefore prefers to crawl into bed. This helps the body with a simple cold but only to a limited extent. It is better to wrap up warm and go for a walk in between. This is good for the circulation and the irritated nasal mucous membranes. But it is important to note that this does not apply to fever – bed rest is necessary and appropriate.

4. Suppress a sneeze

Sneezing is loud, unappetizing – and therefore uncomfortable in public. But we are not equipped with the sneeze reflex for fun. It ensures that the nose is freed from foreign bodies such as dust, viruses and bacteria. If you suppress the sneeze, the pressure that is supposed to eject the foreign body from the body is directed inwards.

This can cause overpressure in the ear, which is uncomfortable. What you should still pay attention to when sneezing: do not sneeze into your palms, but into the crook of your arm. In this way you protect your fellow human beings from viruses and bacteria flying around or a contaminated handshake. This is more important than ever, especially in times of the corona pandemic.

5. Going back to exercise too soon

If you have a cold, you should go for a walk, wrapped up warm, but not do any sports. Because sport with a viral infection damages the body: With a cold, the immune system works harder than usual to fight the pathogens. The exertion of sport is an additional stress factor. If our immune system uses up its reserves for this, it can no longer do anything against the pathogens. The same applies to bacterial infections.

In addition: If you have a flu infection, sport can cause the pathogens to attack the heart and cause myocarditis – and this can sometimes even be life-threatening. You should definitely not exercise, especially if you have a fever.

Sodium deficiency can occur if you drink too much fluid after exercising.
Exercising when you have a cold is not recommended. (Photo: CC0/pixabay/ID 5239640)

If you have a mild cold, you can resume exercise as soon as the symptoms subside. After feverish infections, you should take a break for at least a week. Listen to your body and only do as much exercise as is good for you. Also read: Exercise when you have a cold – you should know that

6. Treat cold with antibiotics

Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, but the majority of colds are viral infections. Here they are of no use, in fact they are harmful: because the more antibiotics are used, the greater the risk that bacteria will become resistant to the drugs. Natural antibiotics in the form of medicinal plants are better.

7. Sweat out cold

If you want to get rid of a cold quickly, sit in a hot bath, then wrap up warm and go to bed with a hot water bottle. On the other hand, it is not a good idea to try to sweat out a cold in the sauna. The hot air puts additional strain on the already weak circulation. A visit to the sauna also encourages germs to multiply better. If you have a cold, you should avoid the sauna.

Also interesting: Does freezing make you sick or does it harden you?

8. Go to work

A cold usually doesn’t tie you to bed straight away. Nevertheless, it makes sense to stay at home for the first two to three days of an infection – during this time the risk of infection with a cold is greatest. If the symptoms subside, you can go back to work. However, it is advisable to keep some distance from colleagues, friends and family members until all complaints are over.

During the corona pandemic, the following still applies: Anyone who feels typical symptoms should stay at home, limit contacts and get medical help by phone. You can find more information on the information page of the Federal Center for Health Education.

By the way: Drink a hot lemon …

… does not make your cold worse, because lemons contain a lot of vitamin C, their regular consumption strengthens the immune system and helps to get rid of a cold. Hot lemon is therefore often praised as a proven home remedy – but unfortunately there is one crucial problem: vitamin C is sensitive to heat and is lost in hot water. So instead of mixing lemon juice with boiling water, use lukewarm water. A temperature of 40 degrees Celsius is ideal.

Note: An earlier version of the article stated that warm milk with honey promotes mucus formation. This information was wrong. We have changed the article accordingly.


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