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

By Health.com
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.

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