Stop a Cold Before It StartsDo you have a tickle in your throat? Starting to feel achy? Take care of these cold symptoms early and you could feel better by the next day. Here’s what to do for the next 24 hours.

Immediately

As soon as you start feeling sick, hydrate. Drinking lots of water, herbal tea, and juice helps thin the mucus your body produces when sick, which makes it easier to get out of your system. If possible, choose hot black or green tea with lemon and honey. Lemon thins mucus; honey is antibacterial.

Next, add moisture. First, take a hot shower. Warm moisture helps clear nasal passages. If a hot shower isn’t possible, try a nasal saline spray to clear passages. Finally, gargle with salt water (half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water). This solution helps clear out mucus, flush away bacteria, and soothe your throat by reducing inflammation.

Open a window. Fresh air will keep airborne particles circulating.

Quit touching your face. The average person touches his or her nose or mouth a few times every hour. Break the habit before you’re sick as not touching your face greatly reduces your odds of getting sick, but definitely, stop if you feel a cold coming on.

Within Two-Six Hours

Go home and rest so your body can focus its energy on fighting the source of the illness. If you can’t take a sick day, avoid shaking hands or coming too close to your colleagues. A cold is most contagious at the beginning.

Keep drinking fluids (chicken soup counts). If you haven’t tried the tea with lemon and honey remedy yet, just have a spoonful of honey. Not only is it antimicrobial, but it will coat your throat. Plus, it tastes better than over-the-counter medicines. Speaking of medicine, go to the drugstore and choose an antihistamine for your runny nose. If you need to stay awake, avoid Benadryl and choose Claritin-D or Alavert D-12.

Try some light exercise – a walk or yoga – to help boost your immune system.

In the Evening

Support your immune system with cold-busting superfoods. Oysters have zinc, citrus fruits have Vitamin C, oily fish with Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation, garlic contains allicin, a compound that produces potent antioxidants. If you don’t have these ingredients on hand, eat a meal with protein, plenty of vegetables, and a whole-grain side.

Go to bed early. People who sleep for at least 7-8 hours are less susceptible to colds than people who sleep less than seven hours. Our bodies need that sleep in order to stimulate an immune response to attack viruses.

The Next Day

Keep repeating this routine each day you feel cold symptoms. However, if you feel worse than you did the day before, call your doctor. You could have the flu or another infection that requires additional care.