How to Stop a Cold In Its Tracks

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The heart of winter is prime time for catching the common cold and all of the irritating symptoms it entails (like a runny nose, a sore throat, and congestion). But between work, family, and all of your other responsibilities, you don’t have time for a cold to take you out of commission. So when you feel that first sniffle coming on, it’s time to kick into action and ease your cold symptoms before they get any worse. Here’s how to stop a cold quickly so you can get back to your busy life ASAP.

Be proactive with precision medicine

Compared to simply treating cold symptoms, it’s more effective to not catch a cold in the first place. A precision medicine doctor can work with you on several strategies to help you prevent a cold or detect it in its early stages.

For example, a recent study found that wearable devices were able to predict an individual's response to viral exposure before symptoms appeared. A precision medicine doctor incorporates biometrics and wearable device data into your proactive health plan. With this information at your fingertips (literally), your doctor can help determine when you’re at risk for showing cold symptoms.

A precision medicine doctor can also analyze your medical history, your stress levels (after all, long term stress can weaken your immune system), and more to assess your risk factors for catching a cold. That way, you can be proactive about defending yourself against a cold.

Hydrate frequently

As simple as it may sound, drinking water can help reduce many common cold symptoms. Water, broth, or warm water with honey and lemon can loosen congestion and prevent dehydration. On the other hand, avoid alcohol, caffeine, or energy drinks, which can impede sleep and further delay your recovery.

Add immune-boosting foods to your diet

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and similarly, eating foods rich in Vitamin C and other nutrients can help fight off your cold. To amp up the Vitamin C, add foods like bell peppers, leafy green vegetables, and berries. Strawberries and blueberries have the added benefits of being high in an antioxidant called anthocyanin, which has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-boosting properties. Try blending up a smoothie filled with berries, spinach, and ice to get the double benefits of boosting your immune system and soothing a sore throat.

And yes, your mother made you chicken noodle soup for good reason when you had a cold as a child. Chicken soup is a convenient source of protein, vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals, which your body will need to fight off your cold. A warm bowl of soup can help break up congestion, and if your soup is made with homemade bone broth, the collagen might help promote recovery.

Gargle salt water

If you’re experiencing a sore, scratchy throat, this homespun remedy can help. Dissolve ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt in one cup of warm water and gargle. Repeat this up to four times a day for optimal soothing.

Add supplements to your routine

Studies have shown that regularly taking a Vitamin C supplement can reduce the duration of a cold by up to 8 percent in adults. Making it a regular part of your routine is key: results are better when you take Vitamin C daily, not just when you feel a cold coming on. So, if you know you’re prone to catching colds easily during the winter, go ahead and talk to your doctor about Vitamin C, zinc, or echinacea supplements.