Bounce back from a cold faster

Don’t let a cold knock you down for the count. Fight back — and shorten the duration of your misery. While there’s no cure for the common cold, these proven remedies can help ease your sneezing, coughing, and aching symptoms.

Boost your immunity. Your best weapon against colds is your own immune system, which is strongest when you get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, exercise, and keep your stress in check. Viruses generally need to run their course, but you can keep it as short as possible by taking care of your body.

Pile on the vitamin C. Studies show that taking vitamin C at the first sign of illness can reduce your cold’s duration by about a day. Load up your fridge with citrus fruits, or take a supplement with your doctor’s OK.

Think about zinc. This essential mineral has a strong track record of fighting the cold. Studies show zinc lozenges can reduce the intensity and duration of a cold in adults. Zinc may have potentially harmful side effects, so talk to your doctor first.

Grab some garlic. Not just for warding off vampires, garlic can help keep away viruses, too. In one study, people who took garlic supplements for 12 weeks during the winter got fewer colds than those who took a placebo. And of those who did get sick, those on the garlic regimen felt better faster.

Know the cold, hard facts

  • 20 seconds: Length of time you need to wash your hands to get rid of germs.
  • 40,000 droplets: Number of virus-carrying drops expelled by a single sneeze.
  • 6 feet: Distance to keep from a sick person to avoid their germs.
  • 100 miles/hour: Speed the air is traveling out of your nose when you sneeze.
  • 3 days: Length of time a cold is contagious after symptoms appear.

Sources: webmd.com; livestrong.com; health.com; everydayhealth.com