How to Ward Off a Cold, According to 6 Health Editors
Arm yourself with these tried-and-true tips for stopping a cold in its tracks.
You’ve been loading up on immune-boosting foods, exercising regularly, and washing your hands often and well. Yet there’s no question you're coming down with something—your body feels run down, and there’s a twinge in your throat. But it’s not too late! Below are the sickness-prevention strategies that Health editors use at the first hint of seasonal sniffles. These reality-tested remedies have worked for us to nip colds in the bud.
"I wouldn't be at all surprised if an expert were to tell me it's total overkill, but the minute I feel a cold coming on, I do the following: drink tons of water, make lots of echinacea tea, have Manuka honey, and eat an orange. I couldn't tell you exactly which part of this regimen is successful, but I think it seems to help, at least a little. I love these on-the-go Manuka honey drops from Wedderspoon (I keep them in my desk drawer for my pre-cold panic moments) and drink this Traditional Medicinals Echinacea tea. (My mom used to make my brothers and I have drops of echinacea in the winter as kids, and I used to hate the taste, but I actually like the flavor of this tea.)"
—Kathleen Felton, senior digital editor
Gargle salt water
"I swear by the salt-water gargle, a trick I learned working at Health. The how-to: Add half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water (though I just eyeball the amount; it should taste salty but not so salty that you gag) and gargle. As soon as I start feeling that scratchiness at the back of my throat I do this several times a day, but at minimum before bed and first thing in the morning. Not only is it soothing but I can almost feel the germs getting purged. I’m convinced I’ve halted countless colds this way."
—Jeannie Kim, former executive deputy editor
Swallow raw garlic
"I heard from a friend that you should eat raw garlic at the first sign of a cold because it activates your immune system, so when I started getting sick before a big work thing, I tried it. Only I chewed the clove rather than swallowing it whole (what you’re supposed to do). BIG mistake. It burns your mouth and throat. The next day my symptoms exploded and then I felt better in three days. So it does work… if you don’t mind sweating it out (and smelling like garlic bread for 48 hours.)"
—Lisa Lombardi, former executive editor
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
"I’m all about hot lemon water when I’m starting to feel less than myself. If I feel like I need an extra boost, I add a dash of cayenne pepper to my cup. Talk about a serious sinus-opener!"
—Anthea Levi, contributor
Prioritize an early bedtime
"I cancel all my plans, and go to sleep earlier. I also drink lots of water and decaffeinated green tea to stay hydrated and wash those germs out of my system."
—Sarah Klein, senior digital editor
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