When itchy throats and body aches appear, you only know that a cold is coming – and in the meantime, you may feel like the only thing to do is dispel it by letting your immune system do its job.
But even if the cold symptoms have begun, it’s too late to do something about them.
Naveen Safdar, MD, medical director of EHE Health, told LIVESTRONG.com: “The early signs of a cold are an advantage, allowing us to react before the virus leaves our legs.” In general, it takes two to three days after the virus enters the body before a cold starts, so we have time to fight the virus before it gets worse.”
For these cold prevention strategies to use, there are some doctors who are personally committed to limiting the severity and duration of their symptoms.
1. ‘Always hydrated’
Ameet R. Kamat, MD, director of the sinus and cranial surgery at White Plains Hospital in New York, said: “When I noticed a cold coming, I made sure to provide water and maintain my electrolytes.
His hydration strategy involves drinking enough water (and sometimes electrolyte drinks) and avoiding dehydrated beverages, such as caffeine or high-dose alcohol.
“Water helps provide oxygen and remove toxins from the body,” Kamat said. It also helps the circulation of the lymph [the body’s filtration system], which is essential for the function of the immune system.”
2. ‘Drink warm liquid’
General practitioner Patrick Fratellone, MD, based in New York, drinks plenty of warm liquids – especially herbal teas – when he starts noticing cold symptoms.
In addition to calming your throat when your throat is itchy and sore, warm fluids also ensure the mucus secreted by the body is not too dense, making it easier for the body to fight off the virus.
Dr. Fratellone said: “Some of the teas I use are nettle leaves, echinacea, goldenseal, and elderberry because of its antiviral properties and a teaspoon of raw honey for antioxidant and antibacterial.
Another measure for Dr. Fratellone is to rinse his mouth with saltwater, which “can help relieve pain caused by a sore throat.” Mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 4 to 8 ounces of water and rinse your mouth to help reduce swelling and irritation. Spit out the solution when you’re done.
4. ‘Zinc Pop’
Fratello also gives zinc every six hours, a method believed to help reduce the level and duration of colds by preventing the multiplication of the virus — which causes many colds — according to a May 2017 study in the journal JRSM Open.
Zinc helps the immune system fight bacteria and viruses, and the layer of zinc-covered filling left on your tongue and throat may be the cause of the difficulty of moving on your mucous membrane (although more research is needed to determine exactly the dosage and form of zinc to take – and for how long – before it can be considered an Official cold treatment, according to the National Institutes of Health).
5. ‘Sleep more’
On the night she felt cold, Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD in Georgia, made sure to go to bed an hour or two early.
Gillespie says: “When you’re sleep-deprived, your immune system is more susceptible to infections. She also always keeps Aleve by her side if anybody aches, aches, or fevers and potentially affects the quality of her sleep.
Dr. Kamat is also very diligent about getting enough sleep: “The amount may vary between different people, but in general, I try to sleep at least seven to eight hours at the start of feeling sick,” he says. “Improved sleep can improve the production of antibodies and the function of T cells (against the virus).”
He added that it also reduces the production of stress hormones and inflammatory molecules, which will allow for better immune function.
6. ‘Wash your sinuses’
When Dr. Kamat began to feel symptoms in his nose, he used nasal drops of saline twice a day.
“This helps small cells called cilia designed to promote the mucous waste disposal process,” he said. Washing water also helps reduce the viscosity of slime, allowing your body to get rid of many orts.”
The nasal washing is usually done with a specially designed 8-ounce bottle (usually a net jar, syringe or squeeze bottle), distilled water, and physiological saline packets, which basically contain salt and baking salt. According to the Food & Drug Administration, when used and cleaned properly, they can be quite effective.
7. ‘Be slow’
“I do extra work to manage stress, such as time without work, daily meditation, and exercise (while maintaining good water intake). I’m just trying to exercise moderately, as it usually helps relieve the symptoms of runny nose, stuffy nose, and sore throat.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, as long as your cold symptoms are on your neck, mild to moderate exercise can be helpful. Just make sure to reduce the duration and intensity of your regular exercises and listen to your body for the so-called quit (or quit exercising altogether).