Cold and Flu

9 things to do when you feel a cold coming on

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Sniffles. Has there ever been a word that was simultaneously so frightening but, like, kind of adorable, like a baby bunny with a wittle pink nose? Don't be fooled. The sniffle is a ghoulish harbinger of the apocalypse riding on a snot rocket. It signals that crappy things are on the horizon, and it puts a serious damper on your ability to feel great and productive and alive. Waking up with the sniffles—and their shitty brethren, the scratchy throat and faint headache associated with cold season—is the pits.

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“The best thing to do,” says Dr. Pritish Tosh, a disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic, “is drink lots of fluid and get plenty of rest. There are old wives’ tales and things that circulate on the Internet. But there is no substitute to getting a lot of rest.” You, reader, are a beautiful, unique snowflake and the world is a better place when you are at 100 percent. Germs are your enemy, and we need to CRUSH these suckers with whatever firepower we can muster.

Follow these tips and you’re gold.

Slurp Chicken Soup
Mom was right. Chicken soup possesses mythical germ-slaying sorcery (or at least it has “some calories in it that you would otherwise not feel like eating,” says Tosh) that can get you feeling good again, quick. We recommend making your own broth, which basically requires you to throw a leftover rotisserie carcass in hot water while you watch Netflix or whatever. We like this clean, versatile recipe from Mission Chinese Food wizard Danny Bowien. Load it up with veggies and garlic and other plant matter if you wanna really vaporize some microbes.

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Drink a Ton of Water
Or hot tea with lemon and ginger. Or orange juice. Or a fancy $11 bottle from Juice Press. Anything, really—just don’t go overboard on caffeine or alcohol. (Sorry! They’re dehydrants. And we need to load you up on fluids to blitz the nasty gunk out. Though, if a little rye helps you sleep…we won’t tell anyone.)

Zicam, Zinc, Vitamin C, Garlic Pills
Some bad news: There simply isn’t very much consistent clinical research that supports the idea that any of this stuff works. You can most definitely do without them. That said…if you feel like any of these things work on you, it certainly doesn't hurt. Bombs away.

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Take a Long, Hot Shower
The steam is a nice decongestant, sure. But the real point is to help you relax. Feeling clean goes a long way to helping you feel like a million bucks again.

Change Your Sheets
This probably doesn’t do much, germ-wise. But one shouldn't underestimate the psychic benefits of a cozy, clean, and wrinkle-free bed when waging war.

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Don't Exercise
It raises your body temperature, and there's a chance you'll end up feeling shittier, like you have a fever. Remember: The key to getting better is to rest. A little exercise is fine. But if you were looking for an excuse to skip leg day, well, this is it.

Sleep Ridiculously Early
This is the big one that we swear by. Instead of getting home from work and lurking on Reddit until 1 A.M., draw the blinds at eight and go to bed. Rest your tired bones. (A bit of NyQuil helps.) Shoot for eight hours plus of shut-eye if you can help it. We promise you won’t miss anything.

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Seal Yourself in a Hermetic Plastic Bubble
Just kidding. (Or are we?) If you’re feeling at all germ-y the next morning (still), and you have a job where you can work remotely, consider staying home. Maybe you’ll fall a bit behind. But it’s the considerate thing to do: No one wants to sit next to a disgusting mucus factory. (Bonus: all the naps!)

Gargle with Listerine
This doesn’t do much for your immune system, either. But it’s certainly hard to feel like a bright ray of sunshine when your breath is rank.

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