Why you may not just want to “tough it out.”
Your head aches, your nose is clogged, and your throat is sore. All you want to do is crawl into bed and sleep. But that's the problem—you can't sleep, because your symptoms are making you feel miserable.
Some people think you should tough it out and let your body heal itself, but that's not the best advice. The virus that caused your cold or flu is reproducing inside your body, and the mucus you are producing can spread the virus from your nasal passages to other parts of your body. The virus can also spread to other people.
If your symptoms keep you from sleeping, you may find that you are less productive, more forgetful, have less energy, are inattentive and are more likely to have accidents.
Start Treating Your Symptoms Early
The best strategy is to start treating your cold or flu as soon as you first notice symptoms. While there is no real cure for these common viral infections, you can relieve the symptoms, and that will make it easier to sleep and will help prevent the spread of the virus from your nasal passages into your sinuses or middle ear.
If your symptoms keep you from sleeping, you may find that you are less productive, more forgetful, have less energy, are inattentive and are more likely to have accidents. Lack of sleep will also reduce your immunity, making it harder to recover and making you more susceptible to other diseases. Lack of sleep can also make you more sensitive to pain. In addition, when you are sick, your body releases substances called cytokines into your bloodstream. Cytokines help strengthen your immune system, but research has shown that they may also regulate/modify sleep.
Early symptom relief reduces the frequency of sneezing and the amount of nasal fluid produced.
Besides making you feel awful, increased mucus production combined with nasal congestion forces you to breathe through your mouth instead of through your nose. Mouth breathing irritates the airways, causing you to cough more, which makes it even harder to get the rest you need.
Nose blowing creates high pressure in the nose, forcing nasal fluid into the sinuses. Early treatment reduces the frequency of sneezing and the amount of nasal fluid produced, and this reduces the need to blow your nose.
While colds and the flu usually clear up on their own, in a small number of cases the virus can lead to more serious complications such as sinus infections, ear infections, and pneumonia, and they can make other health problems, such as asthma and bronchitis, worse.