Here are the best ways to stop a cold so you can avoid sick days and get healthy again. 

Updated: January 28, 2019

Scratchy throat. Stuffed-up head. Achy body. We’re all too familiar with the classic signs and symptoms of the common cold, the short-term but still-annoying illness that affects more than 3 million Americans each year.

But what if there were simple solutions to stop a cold before it spirals into sick days and sleepless nights? Watch the video for the best strategies to stop a cold in its tracks so you can get healthy again—stat.

RELATED: How to Ward Off a Cold, According to 6 Health Editors

Don’t have time to watch? Read the full transcript:

Have H2O: As soon as you notice symptoms, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Add a dash of salt: If you have a scratchy throat, add half a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water. The salt helps to reduce inflammation, and clear out mucous and irritant from the throat. The rinse also flushes out bacteria and viruses, which may prevent a cold from developing.

Shop smart: Within the first two hours, head to the drugstore. Grab a pain reliever, like acetaminophen, to fight off achiness. Also, over-the-counter allergy medications can help with a runny nose and watery eyes.   

RELATED: I Sleep Well, Eat Healthy, and Exercise. So Why Am I Always Getting Sick?

Be sweet: Skip over-the-counter cough medicine. Instead, try eating two tablespoons of raw honey, or mix the sweet stuff into tea.

Ditch what’s unnecessary: Forget the zinc lozenges and sprays; there’s no conclusive proof that they work.

Keep clean: Don’t forget to keep your nose clean. Use a saline nasal spray right after cold symptoms appear.

RELATED: 14 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick With a Cold or the Flu

Get wet: Take a hot shower. The warm moisture may help clear your nasal passages.

Take a break: Consider skipping work. Your body can fight off the virus better if you’re well rested. If you can’t stay home, wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based disinfectant gel. You don’t want to share germs.

Eat up: Have chicken soup for lunch. The classic remedy really does help ease cold symptoms, research suggests.

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter