STOP A COLD BEFORE IT STARTS
Tickle in your throat? Feeling achy? Strike back early and you could feel better by tomorrow. Here's a plan for the next 24 hours:
Drinking plenty of water, tea, and juice helps thin the mucus your body produces when you're sick, says Holly Phillips, M.D., an internal medicine physician in New York City and the author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough. "And when that germ-filled mucus is thinner, it's easier to clear out of your system."
Gargle with salt water
The solution half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, will help flush away bacteria and viruses, clear out mucus and irritants, and soothe an irritated throat. "The salt draws excess water from your throat's tissues, reducing the inflammation," says Philip Hagen, M.D., medical editor of Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies.
Take a hot shower
"Warm moisture helps clear nasal passages," says William Schaffner, M.D., professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. You could also try a nasal saline spray: Research suggests using it early may reduce the severity of cold symptoms.
Have a spoonful of honey
"Honey is believed to be antimicrobial," says Margarita Rohr, M.D., an internist at NYU Langone Health. And it will coat your throat, she adds, offering some relief. Some experts believe it tames coughs just as well as over-the-counter medicines. It tastes better, too.
Hit the drugstore
Pick up an antihistamine, like Benadryl, for your runny nose. If you need to stay alert, you can try a non-drowsy formula that contains decongestants like Clartin-D or Alavert D-12.
Your best bet is to stay home and get some rest so your body can focus all its energy on fighting off the virus. But if you can't afford a sick day, do your best to avoid close contact with your colleagues, the beginning of a cold is when you're most contagious.
Dr. Philips recommends drinking at least two liters of water and other fluids over the course of the day, chicken soup counts as liquid.
Go for a brisk walk
Or take a gentle yoga class just skip the head-stands. "Light exercise can actually boost the immune system," says Jane Sadler, M.D., a family practice physician at Baylor Medical Center in Garland, Texas. You might feel better, too, once you get your blood flowing.
Eat a balanced meal
That means a good source of protein, plenty of veggies, and a whole grain side. The nutrients will help your immune system do its job.
Research has shown that people who doze for at least eight hours at night are far less susceptible to colds than folks who log less than seven hours.