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7 Ways to Beat a Cold

How to take this common virus head on — at any time of the year

7 Ways to Beat a Cold

How to take this common virus head on — at any time of the year

3. Drink something hot

It's not folk wisdom anymore: Researchers from Cardiff University's Common Cold Centre reported that having a hot drink provided sustained relief from cold symptoms like runny nose, cough, sneezing and sore throat. Study authors say hot drinks promote salivation and mucus secretions that ease sore throat pain and other symptoms.

4. Be nice to the nose

Vigorous nose blowing can actually push mucus from the nose up into the sinuses, increasing a cold's severity or leading to a secondary sinus infection, say University of Virginia researchers. It's also best to blow each nostril separately.

5. Don't ask for antibiotics

They do nothing to the viruses behind colds and flu, and contribute to antibiotic resistance, Schaffner says. Yet, according to a new study from Harvard School of Medicine, doctors prescribed antibiotics to 60 percent of those with sore throats and 73 percent of those with bronchitis. Antibiotics should only be used when you have a streptococcus (strep) infection, the culprit in just about 10 percent of cases involving sore throat.

6. Get your zen on

People 50 and over who practiced mindfulness meditation had fewer and less severe colds, a recent University of Wisconsin study showed. Those who used the technique — which involves focusing inward on feelings, sensations and state of mind — racked up 257 sick days, compared to 453 in a control group.

7. Keep your toes toasty

Cold feet constrict the blood vessels in the upper airways, which reduces your defense against viruses, a Cardiff University study found. Ten percent of volunteers who plunged their feet into icy water came down with the sniffles, while none in a control group got sick.

Beth Howard is a freelance writer.

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