5 ways to kick the common cold

By Catherine Agricola, MD  |  3/15/2017

The change of seasons from late winter to early spring is a tricky time for preventing colds. In February and March, there have been many cases of common colds, flu, sore throats and respiratory illnesses in the mid-Hudson Valley. As we speed into spring and the weather turns nicer, people tend to become more social, and that can foster the spread of illnesses. Here are some tips to follow should you fall ill:

1. Target your symptoms. Be in tune with how you are feeling. If you have pain or discomfort, take an analgesic medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you have nasal or sinus congestion, take a decongestant medicine or try a nasal saline rinse. If you have a sore throat, use lozenges or herbal tea with honey. Be careful of the so-called “cold and flu” combination medications. They often have several active ingredients. Read labels carefully. If you are not sure what medication to take, consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

2. Hydrate. Your immune system will be working overtime trying to fight off your illness. Hydrate as if you are running a marathon, because on a cellular level you are. If water gets boring, try adding some lemon or lime. Try coconut water, herbal tea, 100 percent juice diluted with water, or broth. Stay away from caffeine and sugary beverages. If you are feeling nauseated, take small sips and little nibbles throughout the day.

3. Rest. There is a reason why you feel tired when you are sick – your body is telling you to slow down and let its immune system take the reins. There is an incredible amount of microscopic work being done to combat an illness. Your white blood cells are duplicating, antibodies are being produced, proteins and hormones are being released to raise alarm signals and activate the cavalry. Join the fight by resting your brain and body.

4. Get smart about antibiotics. Most cases of bronchitis, ear infections, sore throats and sinusitis are caused by viruses. Antibiotics will not treat a virus. A viral illness will often improve within five to seven days of supportive and symptomatic care at home. Read more at www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community

5. Prevent the spread. You can combat illness even before you become sick. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Use hand sanitizer liberally and often. Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Encourage your friends and family to stay home when sick and you do the same if you become ill.

Dr. Catherine Agricola is a trained physician in both internal medicine and pediatrics. As a primary care doctor at Health Quest Medical Practice in Kingston, she treats adults, children and newborns. Reach her office at 845-338-0180.