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Sick at home? Try these 5 healing hacks to feel better faster.

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Whether it's the common cold, flu, or another illness, getting sick not only impacts your physical and mental health but can also disrupt your routine and responsibilities. As a result, we all look for ways to bounce back faster when sick at home. However, sometimes we unknowingly engage in actions that delay our recovery. While there is no quick fix, incorporating a few smart tips into your get-well-soon routine can help speed up your healing process.

Vontrelle Roundtree, MD

Here are 5 tried-and-tested tips from Dr. Vontrelle Roundtree, Associate Chief Medical Officer at MDLIVE, to help you feel better faster.

Preserve a full plate.

Stick with a full plate.

Whether you avoid certain foods, overindulge with less-than-healthy foods, or simply don't eat altogether when sick, ignoring nutritional needs can delay your body's ability to heal quickly. A diet filled with nutrient-rich foods is the fuel your body needs to fight off illness. Remember, vitamin C and chicken soup are merely supportive players rather than miracle cures. Instead, boosting your immune system's response comes from maintaining a more balanced approach to nutrition.

While it sounds like a no-brainer, many people don't hydrate enough when sick. Drinking plenty of fluids helps flush out toxins and keeps your mucous membranes moist, helping in the recovery process. Warm drinks, in particular, can offer comfort as heat is shown to ease symptoms, such as a sore throat.

What about honey?
Honey’s natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent remedy for soothing sore throats and coughs. When consumed, honey coats the throat and can reduce irritation and the severity of your cough. For adults and older children, honey can be a sweet way to alleviate discomfort and support recovery.

Keep up your hygiene habits.

Keep up your hygiene habits.

While it might be tempting to skip brushing your teeth when sick, you may be sabotaging your recovery by doing so. Maintaining personal hygiene is crucial, not only to prevent the spread of illness to others and improve your mental well-being but also to help prevent additional health problems for yourself. Bacteria thrive and grow when you're sick, and neglecting oral hygiene, for example, can accelerate bacterial and plaque growth, heightening the risk of dental issues.

After you recover, it's important to clean house – both figuratively and literally. Disinfect frequently touched or contaminated surfaces, like doorknobs, clothes, and smartphones to combat any lingering bacteria. According to the CDC, viruses can live on a toothbrush for up to 72 hours. With some illnesses, there is a small possibility you can get reinfected with your toothbrush, so it's also important to toss and replace it after you're sick – the same goes for lip or face makeup that comes directly in contact with your skin.

Shelve your work stress.

Shelve your work stress.

Given life's many obligations and responsibilities, it's natural to try to power through sickness. However, the stress of working while sick can delay recovery more than you may realize. Surprisingly, the mental stress from work can directly impact your physical health by increasing cortisol levels, which in turn can suppress immune function, making you susceptible to longer recovery times or, worse, secondary infections. Taking the necessary time to recover can prevent longer-term health issues and ensure you return to work at full capacity, ultimately supporting a healthier, more productive work environment.

Strike a balance between rest and rally.

Strike a balance between rest and rally.

While rest is essential, particularly in the initial stages of illness, incorporating light to moderate activities can benefit both physical and mental health. In fact, studies have found that exercise, when experiencing an infection or sickness, may not only be safe but could also reduce the severity of symptoms and the number of sick days needed as a result.

Conversely, overextending yourself by trying to maintain your usual pace can set back your healing process. It's important to listen to your body's signals and give yourself permission to slow down if you need to. Consult a doctor to help tailor an appropriate balance for your individual needs.

Doctor time? Know the signs.

Doctor time? Know the signs.

If your sniffles and coughs just won't quit, it might be time to tap an expert for help. The good news? You don't even need to leave your couch to do so. Many conditions, particularly common or mild illnesses, can be effectively diagnosed through video or phone appointments from the comfort of home.

Virtual appointments significantly cut down on the hassle associated with travel and waiting in a doctor's office or urgent care clinic with other sick people. It can be a convenient option for getting the care you need, with doctors recommending in-person follow-ups when necessary. So, if your symptoms stick around, remember it's easy to check in and get checked out by MDLIVE board-certified doctors.

"Incorporating these hacks into your sick day routine can speed up your recovery, ensuring a quicker return to your everyday routine," advises Dr. Roundtree. "Remember, listening to your body and taking timely action, whether that means self-care or speaking to a doctor, is key to getting you back on track to good health."

Posted date: April 11, 2024

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