Chest colds, which are also known as bronchitis, are viral infections that affect the lungs. Symptoms of a chest cold include mucus congestion, chest pain, wheezing and fatigue. Whereas anyone can develop a chest cold, this infection is common in people who smoke, children and those who live with heart and lung disease. If left untreated, chest colds can worsen. Thus, it’s imperative to treat the condition at the first sign of infection.
- Suppress a cough with over-the-counter medication. Coughing is common with chest colds because of the presence of mucus. Use OTC cold medications with an added cough suppressant to help remedy a cough and clear congestion in the chest. Use medication as directed.
- Take an anti-inflammatory medication to stop aches. Coughing can produce chest and back pains, and fevers are common with infections. Choose a cold medication with a pain reliever or take a separate anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen to relieve pain.
- Drink up to help clear congestion. Mucus trapped in the chest triggers congestion, which can lead to coughing and wheezing. Drink extra fluids such as water, hot teas, soup and juices to break up mucus.
- Take off a few days to recuperate. Rest is imperative when battling a chest cold and other infections because it gives your body a chance to heal. Call in sick and take a couple of days off work or school to help your body fight the infection.
- Turn on the humidifier. Use a cool-mist humidifier (available from drugstores) to increase moisture in the air and help break up congestion in your chest.
- Apply vapor rub to your chest. Use over-the-counter vapor rub and apply a generous amount to your chest throughout the day to help clear your lungs and stop coughing from a chest cold. Use as directed.
Things You’ll Need
Electrolytes are essential elements found in the foods we eat. When you work out or get sick, you lose electrolytes faster than you replace them. Essential elements like potassium and sodium, and to a lesser degree magnesium and calcium, are needed for the body to function properly. In most cases you can replace these elements by consuming the right foods and drinks.
- Add a pinch of salt to 8 oz. of water and drink it slowly. If you’re sick or you’ve worked out for more than 40 minutes, this is a quick way to get sodium to absorb into your system.
- Eat a banana to replace lost potassium electrolytes. Pack one and take it with you to the gym. Drink a glass of water with it to help with absorption and digestion. You can also slice up some watermelon and eat it when your energy level starts to dip. Watermelon combats dehydration and is also high in potassium.
- Pick up a sports drink if you want to replace lost electrolytes quickly. Look for an isotonic sports drink with a higher carbohydrate count, like PowerBar drink or Lucozade Sport for long workouts. Try a hypotonic, low-carb sports drink like AriZona Hypotonic Performance Sports Drink if you’re feeling especially dehydrated, nauseous or tired, as it absorbs even faster than an isotonic drink. If you’re working out for more than a couple of hours or exercising in excessive heat, choose a hypertonic sports drink (contains more carbohydrates than the others) like Ultra or Original Lucozade.
- Save money and make your own sports drink to replace lost electrolytes. Add 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tbsp. sugar and mix with 1 liter of water. Don’t skip any of the ingredients–the orange juice may seem like too much sugar but it actually replaces lost potassium.
- Hit your local sporting goods store and pick up a sports gel or an electrolyte strip that dissolves under your tongue. Gatorade, Enlyten and Innozen are examples of popular brands. Check the ingredients to make sure you’re getting plenty of potassium and a small does of sodium.
- Find natural coconut water at a health foods store and drink it. Coconut water is refreshing, hydrating and it provides you with a hearty dose of potassium.
- Replace magnesium by eating broccoli, tofu, halibut or spinach. Get a quick calcium boost by eating a cup of yogurt, 2 oz. of low-fat cheese or a glass of milk.
Tips & Warnings
If you experience extreme symptoms of electrolyte imbalance such as confusion or a prolonged irregular heartbeat, see your doctor immediately.