9 Common Habits that May Be Making Your Cold Worse

We all want to recover from colds as soon as possible. Nobody wants to deal with coughs, congestion and a sore throat week after week.

Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do to cure a cold. In fact, these common habits may be sabotaging your recovery and making your cold even worse.

9 Common Habits that May Be Making Your Cold Worse

1. Low fluid intake

Skimping on water when you have a cold can worsen the symptoms. Drinking water will thin your mucus and consequently clear your stuffy nose.

Take advantage of other healthy drinks such as soups, herbal teas and fruit-infused water. Avoid sugary drinks, because they trigger inflammation, which may make your cold worse.

2. Inactivity

Do you usually lie on your couch all day whenever you have a cold? Well, you can recover faster if you jump off the couch and stay active.

WebMD recommends using low-intensity exercises to help improve your breathing. However, you need to listen to your body. Stop exercising if you start feeling dizzy or experience any other discomfort.

3. Taking antibiotics

Taking antibiotics to treat colds is one of many ways people misuse antibiotics. Antibiotics are good for treating bacterial infections, not viral infections like the common cold.

Misusing antibiotics weakens your immune system by increasing your risk of antibiotic resistance.

4. Ignoring the cold

I’m guilty of this one. Going about your day as if everything is normal only worsens your symptoms. You need to take care of yourself by staying properly hydrated and avoiding strenuous tasks.

5. Staying up late

You may be tempted to binge on your favorite show all night after calling in sick to work. However, your body needs enough rest in order to fight infections.

Physicians say that adequate sleep helps their patients recover faster. But they acknowledge that colds can cause sleep problems, due to congestion and increased body temperature. Try these natural remedies for congestion, if stuffiness is keeping you up at night.

6. Drinking alcohol

Drinking alcohol may worsen cold symptoms, due to dehydration. As I mentioned above, it’s important to stay hydrated when recovering from a cold.

Additionally, alcohol weakens your immune system and may interfere with cold medications. Lay off the booze until you fully recover.

7. Smoking

Smoking or being around smokers won’t help your recovery. The chemicals in cigarettes may irritate your respiratory system and worsen your cold symptoms as a result.

I may also note that smokers tend to catch colds more than nonsmokers do, and they have worse symptoms.

8. Being stressed

Stress can make your colds worse because it puts a strain on your immune system. Avoid stressful activities and situations when you catch a cold.

Use relaxation techniques such as meditation to ease stress. Research actually shows that practicing mindful meditation for 8 weeks can reduce cold and flu illness.

9. Overusing the nasal spray

Nasal sprays help decongestion by shrinking the swollen blood vessels in your nose. When you use them properly they can make you feel better, but overusing them can worsen your cold symptoms.

Do you know other habits that worsen cold symptoms? What are your tricks for weathering a bad cold?

Images via Getty


Frances G
Past Member 3 months ago

thank you for sharing

Sarah A
Past Member 3 months ago


Alina Kanaski
Alina Kanaski4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Irene S
Irene S4 months ago

Really common habits? Weird! Spammer flagged.

Kathy K
Kathy K4 months ago


Sherry Kohn
Sherry K4 months ago


Danuta W
Danuta W4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Aa M
Aa M4 months ago

very interesting info

Debbi W
Debbi W4 months ago

Antibiotics for a cold is insane.

Ruth R
Ruth R4 months ago

Lots of hot tea, lots of vitamin C, cough mixture...