The ominous signs seem to pop up overnight. Maybe a scratchy throat, then a bit of a runny nose. Or watery eyes and a bit of a cough.
You try to convince yourself it's nothing, but you know that you're coming down with a cold. Before you give in and resign yourself to a week or more of hacking and sniffling and feeling miserable, here are some things you can do to help stop that cold in its tracks.
When a virus invades your body, your immune system kicks into high gear to help fight the invading germs. But when you're overworked or stressed, your defenses aren't running on full power to do battle, says WebMD. That doesn't mean you have to jump into bed and stay under the covers until you feel better. But do things that relax you, whether that's listening to music or taking a walk. If you find yourself getting stressed or feeling overwhelmed, take deep breaths and calm your mind so your body can heal.
Keep a glass by your side and keep drinking. Water is your best bet, but juices and broth are good too. Not only will fluids help keep your hydrated, but they'll also ease the congestion that may be clogging your head, thinning the mucus so you can blow your nose or cough it out. Just stay away from alcohol, coffee and caffeine, which can make dehydration work, suggests the Mayo Clinic.
3. Be sweet
Studies have shown that honey can soothe a sore throat, so add it to some warm water or tea. You'll get the cough suppressant benefits of honey and the additional plus of extra liquids. Just want a sweet cough-busting fix? Have two straight teaspoons of honey in place of cough medicine. Several studies have found honey to be as effective as common cough suppressant ingredients. Just make sure not to give it to children under 1 year old.
4. Think soup
Your grandmother was right: Chicken soup is a great idea when you're feeling icky. The steam from the soup can help with your congestion and the fluid can help prevent dehydration and thin mucus.
5. Get some steam
Hop in the shower, get a humidifier or put your head (carefully) over a pot of hot water. The moisture should help loosen up any congestion in your head.
6. Get enough rest
Now is not the time for all-night Netflix marathons. While you're sleeping, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines that work to fight infection. When you don't get enough sleep, your body may not produce enough of these protective proteins.
7. Ease pain
If your throat's scratchy or your nose is stuffed, there's no reason to suffer. Try over-the-counter antihistamines to help with a runny nose or watery eyes or decongestants for stuffiness. For aches, opt for pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, suggests WebMD, until your symptoms improve.
Editor's note: This story was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated with more useful information.