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What's the best treatment for a spring cold

"Whatever the season, you can catch a cold. And you can expect to be sick for about a week. But that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable," explains Frances Weinstock, MD, who practices family medicine at Baptist Medical Associates.

These remedies may help:

  • Water and other fluids. Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas, which make dehydration worse.
  • Salt water. A saltwater gargle – 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water – can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
  • Saline nasal sprays. Over-the-counter saline nasal sprays combat stuffiness and congestion.
  • Chicken soup. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils – immune system cells that participate in your body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through your nose, helping relieve congestion.
  • Over-the-counter cold medications. Nonprescription decongestants and pain relievers offer some symptom relief, but they won’t prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side effects. If used for more than a few days, they can actually make symptoms worse. Don’t give cold medicines to children younger than age 2. Also, keep in mind that acetaminophen (Tylenol®) can cause serious liver damage or liver failure if taken in high doses.
  • Humidity. Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions. A humidifier can add moisture to your home, but it can also add mold, fungi and bacteria if not cleaned properly.

"Although usually minor, colds can make you feel miserable. The best thing you can do is take care of yourself. Rest, drink fluids and remember to wash your hands frequently," Dr. Weinstock adds.

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