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Colds and Flu

9 ways to comfort coughs and colds

An occasional cold is a fact of life, but you don't have to take the sniffling, sneezing, coughing, and aching lying down. Here are nine ways to sidestep a cold or soothe the symptoms.

Soup it up. Chicken soup is the classic mother's remedy for colds and flu, and research shows that mom was right on the mark. One study found that even when chicken soup was diluted 200 times, it still interfered with the substances that trigger colds. Other studies found that hot soup can break up congestion and thin out mucous secretions.

Wash your hands. You don't have to catch every cold that comes along. Cold viruses are spread by touching infected respiratory secretions on someone's skin or on a surface, like a doorknob, and then touching your own eyes, nose, or mouth. You can also catch a cold by inhaling infectious particles in the air from a cough or sneeze. To reduce your chances of catching a cold, wash your hands frequently, and don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Use soap and rub your hands together vigorously for best results. Plain soap works fine. The popular antibacterial soaps don't provide extra protection against colds because they only kill bacteria, not viruses.

Get steamed up. If a stuffy nose is making you miserable, jump in the shower. Hot, moist air can temporarily clear clogged nasal passages and help you breathe easier. A humidifier can also help. If you don't have one, you can make one. Just pour boiling water in a bowl, lean over it with a towel covering your head, and breathe deeply. Add some chamomile flowers to the water for extra relief. Chamomile helps clear clogged sinuses and soothes irritated throats.

Drink plenty of fluids. It's very important to get plenty of fluids when you have a cold or the flu, particularly if you have a fever. 'I prevent dehydration, and to thin the mucus in your lungs so you can cough it up, get at least eight to 10 cups of liquids a day.

Round up some vitamin C. Many people think vitamin C can prevent colds. While that hasn't been proven, studies have found that it may reduce the length of time you suffer cold symptoms. Taking supplements containing mega-doses of vitamin C isn't a good idea. Although too much vitamin C probably won't kill you, large doses may cause kidney stones, nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. To get vitamin C naturally, eat sweet red peppers, green peppers, citrus fruits, and strawberries.

Make a honey of a cough syrup. Drugstore shelves are crammed with cough syrups, but if you don't like taking medicine, you can make your own natural cough syrup. Mix the juice of one lemon with two tablespoons of glycerine and 12 teaspoons of honey. Take one teaspoon every half hour, stirring before each use. For another soothing and tasty cough reliever, combine 8 ounces of warm pineapple juice and two teaspoons of honey.

Go bananas. Bananas are delicious and loaded with folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and fiber, but did you know they may help quiet a cough? Heartburn is responsible for one in 10 chronic coughs. Research shows that eating bananas may bring relief from heartburn and the cough it causes.

Think zinc. Another nutrient that's controversial in the treatment of colds is zinc. Some studies have found that people with colds who use zinc gluconate lozenges recover from their colds more quickly than others. Other studies haven't shown any positive effects. If you want to try them, keep this in mind. Not only do they have a bad taste, they can cause nausea.

Make more friends. You can never have too many friends, right? A recent study found that having many social connections may make you less likely to catch a cold. The study found that people with six or more types of social ties - friend, spouse, parent, work mare, etc. -- were four times less likely to get a cold than those with three or fewer types of social connections. Researchers think extra psychological support or increased exposure to different viruses, which helps build immunity, could be the reason.


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