Tips for the Traveler’s Cold
Updated: Sep 11
It’s no secret that traveling wreaks havoc on your immune system. Every interaction and destination you are exposed to is introducing new germs and potential illness for your body to defend itself against. The sleep deprivation and stress weakens your immune system before it’s even exposed to the elements of a new place and new people. Plus studies have shown that you are 20% more likely to catch a cold on a plane than on the ground.
These series of unfortunate circumstances we put our bodies through for business travel eventually catch up to us and we get sick. Not enough to call off work or cancel anything, but just enough where coworkers question whether they want to shake your hand. Have no fear! We have some tips and tricks for fighting your traveler’s cold symptoms from our online community of women business travelers.
Pain Relievers are Your BFF
Pain relievers like Aspirin and Tylenol are going to help relieve any aches and pains you may have developed such as neck, sinus or back pain as a result of a cold. They also help reduce fevers, acetaminophen helps reduce your body temperature, while Aspirin helps reduce inflammation. Here’s the kicker - you CAN take them together! It is safe and possibly more effective to mix acetaminophen and ibuprofen for pain and fever relief. So, if you wake up one day feeling a little warm and under the weather, try taking your Tylenol and Aspirin together every 6 hours. Make sure to always follow dosage instructions on the back of the medication, and never take more than is recommended.
Is there a worse feeling than a stuffy nose? Those moments in your bed or at your desk asking yourself the last time you actually inhaled air through your nose. We’ve all been there. That’s why the wonderful world of drugstores have provided us with nasal sprays. Saline nasal sprays are drug free and are used mainly to loosen and clear any mucus buildup in the cavity. Many of these sprays come with preservatives to help prevent mold or bacteria from growing, although there are preservative-free options. Corticosteroid sprays such as Flonaze or Zicam for allergies have steroids to help reduce inflammation due to an overactive immune system, which can be caused by colds as well as allergies. Decongestant nasal sprays temporarily constrict the blood vessels in your nostrils providing pressure relief and breathing time. Decongestant sprays only provide temporary relief, however, and may cause users to use more to achieve the same results over time. Nasal sprays are available at any drugstore or where allergy medicine is sold over the counter.
If you really want to help your immune system tackle a traveler’s cold, you may want to consider a good dose of vitamin C. There have been studies showing that taking 200mg of vitamin C appeared to reduce the duration of sniffles and other cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults.
Beyond helping your body fight off a cold, the benefits of vitamin C include:
Helps white blood cells fight infection
Help remove and neutralize environmental toxins (pollution, UV rays)
Other animals have the ability to make their own vitamin C, but as humans we have to ingest it. The most obvious way is through foods that are nutrient rich. Some vitamin C rich foods include strawberries, kale, kiwis, spinach and broccoli. It’s suggested to eat these delicious fruits and veggies to get your vitamin C as they’re also packed with plenty of other important nutrients and vitamins you body needs. Walk down any health supplement aisle at the store and you will experience the overwhelming amount of ways you can ingest your daily dose of vitamin C. There’s powder form, gummies and caps allowing you to have free range when it comes to vitamin flavor and texture. Airborne or Emergen-C are traveler favorites, coming in a variety of flavors and made with natural ingredients.
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration.
We should be drinking a little over a half gallon of water a day to begin with, according to the Mayo Clinic, but especially when we’re feeling less than 100%. When we’re under the weather it is important to replace the fluids we may have lost during a fever or respiratory evaporation to help our body fight the illness. Liquid also helps loosen mucus to relieve pressure in addition to maintaining body temperature. Drinking too much liquid can flush your system, which may already be depleted from illness. In these cases drinks like Gatorade with electrolytes and sugar will help replace any lost nutrients. The ideal liquid should be water, but plenty prefer tea or juice when they’re sick. These are both great options but be wary of caffeine and sugar content that may upset your stomach. Although I’m sure at one point we’ve all had a school nurse or aunt hand us a ginger ale as a remedy, soda and other caffeinated drinks can dehydrate you and prevent your body from functioning normally. So grab some water (or tea) and rest up, that cold’s got nothing on you!
How have you dealt with a cold while on the road? Do you have an amazing home remedy to share with like-minded women in business? Join the discussion on our GoJaneGo Facebook group! Follow us on Twitter, Linked In and Instagram to stay updated and get travel and career advice from women. ~Journey On, Janes