5 Tips for Dealing With a Cold + IBD

It's officially cold season and whilst I actually prefer winter to summer, I don't love the colds that are going around.

Because of COVID-19, many of us have avoided colds and are now getting more of them with things opening back up. I feel as if I've had about 3 colds in the past month – whether that's because I am on immunosuppressants or I'm just unlucky with the bugs I'm catching. Either way, I wanted to share my top tips for dealing with a cold when you've also got IBD.

Cold and flu tips for Crohn's and colitis sufferers

1. Check the labels of any cold and flu remedies carefully

We're used to taking a cocktail of drugs so often don't sweat the over-the-counter stuff. However, there are a few things I look out for when buying cold and flu remedies. The most obvious one is to look out for ibuprofen, which many Crohn's and colitis patients are told not to take.

However, I also look out for artificial sweeteners such as xylitol or aspartame. Most cold remedies seem to have these added and they often display a warning "may induce a laxative effect," which is enough to make me steer clear.

2. Lemon and ginger is your friend

I'm a big fan of ginger. It's thought to help things like nausea and settling your stomach but I also find it really helpful when I have a sore throat that comes to your cold. It's proven to have antimicrobial properties that can help fight infections.

I usually drink tea with chopped ginger and lemon but sometimes add turmeric too. It's very soothing and feels like a cold remedy without any sweeteners in it.  Why not try my lemon, ginger and turmeric tea recipe?

3. Prepare belly-friendly foods for your Crohn's or colitis

As well as thinking of cold remedies, also think of foods that are belly-friendly as it's not uncommon for a cold to go to your stomach. Every time I have a cold, my gut is impacted. I'm never sure if it's part of the bug or the stress on my immune system that causes me to flare.

Either way, as soon as a cold starts, I make sure I have flare-friendly foods on hand (like soup and mashed potatoes) and eat plainly and simply for a few days just in case.

4. Drink echinacea tea

I'm always cautious of herbal remedies but I've been drinking echinacea tea when I have a cold and it seems to make it go away quicker! Interestingly, there were some studies that suggest this might be helpful for those with IBD to drink, with a study showing it might be helpful to those who have ulcerative colitis.1

5. Get your vitamin levels checked

As I type, this is on my to-do list for today! It's thought that vitamin D can play a preventative role in helping colds but lots of us with IBD are deficient in vitamin D. Other vitamins – such as vitamin C and B12 – are vital for your immune system, too. So consider speaking to your doctor if you think you might be deficient and proper supplementation may help you fight off future colds quicker.

Recovering from a cold or flu with IBD

I hope these tips have given you some ideas for dealing with colds and IBD. I forgot my most important tip, which is to REST! We are so used to being ill with more serious health issues that we forget when we get "regular people sick," we still need to rest and look after our bodies just as much!

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