Let’s face it – colds are terrible. The stuffy nose, the pulsing headaches, everything tasting just that little bit *off*.
And yes, it turns out that the mid-cold fuzziness isn’t just in your head ― the common cold can seriously affect your concentration.
Research by nasal spray brand Stérimar involving over 2,000 UK adults found our concentration is divided at the best of times.
Even without a cold, 45% of us struggle to focus on one thing; our concentration is at its worst at 1pm, and we can usually only truly tune into a work meeting for 10 minutes.
When we have a cold, however, the amount of time we’re able to focus on one task plummets from 46 minutes to 26 (that’s a 43% reduction).
“It’s interesting to see from the research how easy it is for Brits’ concentration to drop when we are ill,” said Dr Emeka Okorocha, who has partnered with Stérimar.
“And it’s no surprise that when you have a cold your symptoms can prove to be a huge distraction due to the impact they have on our natural bodily functions.”
Dr Okorocho offers the example of breathing: “Whilst we breathe in and out approximately 22,000 times a day, we only start paying attention to it when it becomes more challenging, like when we have a blocked nose.
“As a result, this bunged-up feeling can impair our ability to think, function, and concentrate.”
Here are the symptoms which bother Brits’ concentration the most (and what to do about it)...
In order, the most distracting symptoms are:
- Headache – 63%
- Tiredness – 55%
- Feeling sick – 46%
- Bunged up head – 43%
- Toothache – 42%
- Runny nose – 41%
- Blocked nose – 41%
- Tickly cough – 38%
- Sore throat – 36%
- Constant sneezing – 34%
OK, so what can I do?
NHS advice offers nothing groundbreaking, but the health body’s recommendations are solid: rest, stay hydrated, and gargle salt water to ease a sore throat (though children shouldn’t do this).
You can ease aches and fevers with over-the-counter medications, too, like paracetamol and ibuprofen. Nasal sprays can help to decongest a stuffy nose (though you should do a saline rinse before using these).
See your GP if your symptoms last longer than three weeks, suddenly worsen, or come with high temperatures and shivering.
You should also consider a doctor’s visit if you’re worried about your child’s symptoms, have shortness of breath or chest pain, and/or have a long-term medical condition (like heart disease) or a weakened immune system.
Ah, the joys of cold and flu season...