woman eating chicken soup
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
June 19, 2023 ·  5 min read

8 Things to Do the Moment You Start Feeling Sick

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Whether it’s cold and flu season, you are traveling frequently, or it is simply a busy and stressful time of year, your next cold or flu could be right around the corner. One minute you’re feeling fine, and the next, you’re hit with a sore throat, runny nose, and a general feeling of malaise. While it’s impossible to completely avoid getting sick all the time, there are steps you can take to lessen the severity and duration of your symptoms.

8 Things to Do the Moment You Start Feeling Sick

Very rarely do you go to bed feeling perfectly healthy and you wake up terribly sick. Usually, as long as you’re paying attention, your body sends you little signals. Maybe you’re feeling more tired for no apparent reason. Perhaps your appetite is off or your chest feels just a bit tight.

Regardless of what your first sign that you are getting sick is, there are things you can do immediately that will help you recover faster. While you might not be able to completely side-step the cold and flu, you can certainly make it less severe and much shorter in duration. Follow these eight steps the next time you think you are coming down with something to ensure a short and (relatively) painless recovery.

1. Rest and Relax

One of the most important things you can do when you start feeling sick is to rest and relax. Your body needs time to fight off the infection, and the best way to do that is to give it the rest it needs. Take a day off work, cancel any plans you have, and spend the day in bed or on the couch. Read a book, watch a movie, or take a nap. (1)

If you are one who follows a strict exercise regime, take a day or two off. While sweating can be good for the body, intense exercise is not when you are ill. This is because after exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise, the immune system dips down for a period of time. Skip the run or the heavy weights session and opt for a walk (outside in the sunshine, if possible) or some yoga. This will allow your immune system to function at full capacity and get your illness to the curb faster. Whatever you do, make sure you’re giving your body the time it needs to recover.

2. Stay Hydrated

When you’re sick, your body loses fluids through sweating, coughing, and blowing your nose. It’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Water is the best choice, but you can also drink herbal tea, clear broths, and sports drinks. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you further. (2)

In fact, organic bone broth is one of the best things you can eat when you are sick (or about to be). This is because it’s loaded with nutrients and minerals that can help you feel better. Bone broth is also a great source of protein, which will give you energy when your body needs it most. (3)

3. Use a Humidifier

Dry air can irritate your nasal passages and throat, making your symptoms worse. Using a humidifier can help add moisture to the air and make it easier to breathe. Be sure to clean your humidifier regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. (4)

4. Gargle with Salt Water

If you have a sore throat, gargling with salt water can help relieve the pain and reduce inflammation. This is because salt is anti-bacterial, meaning that it does a good job fighting off any of the germs that may be in the back of your throat. Mix a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds before spitting it out. Repeat several times a day as needed.

5. Eat Healthy Foods

While you may not feel like eating when you’re sick, it’s important to give your body the nutrients it needs to fight off the infection. Stick to easy-to-digest foods like soup, crackers, and toast. Avoid heavy, greasy foods that can make you feel worse. Some foods to increase your intake of include:

6. Some Supplements

Some supplements have been shown to be effective immune supporters. Some can even help decrease the duration and severity of a cold or flu. The main ones that have the most evidence to support their efficacy include:

While the results on all three of these supplements is still mixed, some experts (though not all!) suggest that they can help you when you’re sick. Always speak to your medical provider before adding a new supplement to your routine.

9. Stay home

Finally, it’s important to stay home when you’re sick. Going to work or school can spread your illness to others, and it can also make your symptoms worse. Stay home until you’re feeling better, and be sure to avoid close contact with others to prevent the spread of germs.

The Bottom Line

Getting sick is no fun, but you can take steps to make the experience a little less miserable. By resting, staying hydrated, taking medications, using a humidifier, gargling with salt water, eating healthy foods, washing your hands, and staying home, you can help your body fight off the infection and get back to feeling like yourself again.

Keep Reading: 8 Powerful Natural Remedies for Pain and Inflammation


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  3. Medicine or Malarkey: Does Bone Broth Really Help Cure the Common Cold?Care Spot
  4. Humidifiers and health.” Medline Plus
  5. Garlic for the common cold.” NCBI. Elizabeth Lissiman,et al. November 2014.
  6. Honey: A Biologic Wound Dressing.” NCBI. Peter Molan and Tanya Rhodes. July 2015.
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  8. Green tea polyphenols and their potential role in health and disease.” NCBI. M Afzal, et al. August 2015.
  9. Is ginger beneficial for nausea and vomiting? An update of the literature.” NCBI. Wolfgang Marx, et al. June 2015.
  10. Bananas, raw.” USDA. April 2018.
  11. Vitamin C and Immune Function.” Pubmed. Anitra C Carr and Silvia Maggini. November 2017.
  12. An overview of the modulatory effects of oleic acid in health and disease.” NCBI. Helioswilton Sales-Campos, et al. February 2013.
  13. Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” NCBI. Sarah King, et al. July 2014.
  14. Spinach, NS as to form, cooked.” FDC. October 2020.

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.