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4 tips for easing a holiday cold

Spread joy (not germs)

Dec. 26, 2019—There's no good time to catch a cold. But this common malady can be particularly bothersome during the holiday season.

While there's no way to cure a cold, there are things you can do to help ease your symptoms. Try these four tips:

1. Get some rest. It can help your body fight off the virus dragging you down.

2. Drink plenty of fluids. Keep your mucus moving and your body hydrated. Liquids like water, herbal tea and clear soup are good choices. But avoid caffeine and alcohol.

3. Find relief at the pharmacy. Some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can help ease cold symptoms. Get a jump on your illness by using them when symptoms (sneezing, scratchy throat or cough) start. Options include:

  • Acetaminophen, naproxen or ibuprofen for mild aches and low fevers. Children's versions of these are available. Remember to never give anyone under 18 aspirin.
  • Cough and cold products that contain decongestants and antihistamines for a cough and a stuffy or runny nose. Don't give these products to children either.
  • Sprays and lozenges for sore throats.
  • Saline nose drops to loosen mucus.

Be sure to follow the label directions, and read the list of ingredients carefully. Many cold products contain more than one medicine. Make sure you aren't taking too much of drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin. Check with a doctor if you have questions about giving medicine to children or yourself.

4. Think outside the medicine cabinet. You can also ease your symptoms without visiting the pharmacy. Here are a few no-drugs tricks to help you feel better:

  • Give salt water a gargle—it's really not that bad. Try it a few times a day to help soothe a sore throat.
  • Use a humidifier. It might help clear a congested nose.
  • Steer clear of secondhand smoke. It makes a cold feel worse.

Keep it contained

Although colds can last a week or more, you may start to feel better in a few days. In the meantime, here are some ways to avoid sharing your cold:

  • Sneeze and cough into the inside of your elbow.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, including after blowing your nose.
  • Until you feel better, hang a separate towel in your bathroom for drying your hands.
  • Maintain a safe distance from others. You may socialize, but try not to get too close to anyone. And while you're infectious, it's probably a good idea to put off gift shopping. If you can't wait until your cold has passed, consider shopping online.
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