How to Deal When You’re Sick with a Head Cold

What are your favorite products and systems to deal with a head cold, readers? We haven’t talked about this in a LONG time, and not only am I as sick as a dog, the NYT reports that EVERYONE is as sick as a dog right now as our immune systems have been relatively sheltered over the past 18 months. (And yes I did get tested for COVID, thanks for asking!)

Coincidentally, I’ve also been reviewing my tips for babies and head colds for two friends who are expecting soon — I struggled so much with my first son’s head colds that my go-to gift for really close friends is a bunch of supplies to help a baby deal with a head cold, even if they’re not exciting. (Although as I write this I remember that his adenoids were like a 95% obstruction before we removed them, so maybe his colds were literally worse than my second son’s… hmmn.) But reviewing my own tips for babies and head colds was helpful for me to remember how to treat a cold for myself, so I thought it would be fun to round up everyone’s tips today!

Readers, what are your go-to products for when you’re sick to feel better? How do you deal when you’re sick?

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My own favorite products for a head cold include:

Advil. I’m a weirdo in that I generally do not like cold medicine and try to avoid it — whereas my husband is a big Nyquil guy. But I will happily take Advil to deal with the inevitable headache! Readers, do you have favorite products (or generics) that you take when you’re sick, or to ward off getting sick? (I usually do like zinc if I feel a cold coming on, but I missed the window this time.)“Sick tea” — I make this for my boys as well as myself. It’s basically very weak herbal tea with a LOT of honey and lemon. The idea is that the lemon cuts the phlegm, while the honey soothes the throat. Sometimes I make it with just hot water, but this week we’ve been using either Honey Chamomile or I Love Lemon. (Fancy, I know.)Olbas Oil. A good friend turned me on to this smelly oil years ago — it’s a slightly fancier version of Vapo Rub. I’ll put a few drops on my neck or chest before I go to bed and it helps keep my sinuses open.Shower vapor tablets. I have been collecting these for years from different brands — they’re like little hockey pucks that you put on the floor of the shower and the steam helps release vapors to help you clear out your head. I tend to put them a bit behind the shower spray (like directly under the nozzle) so the water doesn’t hit them too much and sometimes they last for several showers. I think I used the Vicks one last night and it was lovely.Humidifier. I forgot this one last night and wish I hadn’t — it helps so much with the inevitable mouth breathing while you sleep. (This is the humidifier we have multiples of, and while it’s still Wirecutter’s pick for the top humidifier it looks like it’s sold out right now, hopefully temporarily.) Maybe I’m crazy but in a pinch I’ll also just get a towel a bit wet under running water and hang it near where I’m sleeping so I can benefit as the water evaporates. (It always sounds great in the middle of the night when I’m desperate but too tired to find the humidifer; I’ll have to Google whether this actually works or not.)Wedge pillow for inclined sleeping. I HATE this stupid thing but sometimes it’s the only way to get to sleep. Readers, do you have any preferred methods to elevate your head but still be comfortable?Bonus mention: cough drops. I’m not a big cough drops person in general unless I’m sitting in an audience or somewhere where I feel like I “need” to control my coughing; these days you’re probably best advised to stay home if you’re coughing uncontrollably. In Usual Times though, don’t forget to unwrap any cough drops before the meeting/presentation/theater show — crinkling wrappers are just as bad as coughing.

Those are some of my biggest tools in my arsenal to deal with a head cold — how about you guys? What are your best tips for how to deal when you’re sick?

(We’ve talked in the past for how to work when you’re sick — if you have tips on that to share today I’d love those as well!)

Stock photo via Stencil.