Jessica is a medical writer with an unquenched thirst to discover something new. She believes that medical content should be accessible to everyone and strives to write content that every single person can understand. When Jessica isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading a book with a dog cuddled in her lap. Jessica has a Masters of Engineering degree in Biomedical Engineering.
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Amy is a Board Certified Family Health Nurse Practitioner (FNP) with over 15 years of experience working in Hospital Medicine, Urgent Care and Primary Care practices. Amy graduated Thomas Jefferson University with high distinction earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2008, a Master of Science in Nursing in 2010 and a Post Master's Certificate in Adult Gerontology Acute Care (AGAC) in 2014. She was recognized by the Elite American Nurses Association in 2013 for her dedication, achievements and leadership in the field Nursing. She served as a clinical preceptor for a number of Nurse Practitioner students and enjoys teaching the bright minds of future NPs.
You’re going about your day, when all of a sudden, something feels off. Maybe you have a tickle in your throat, or your nose is starting to get slightly stuffy. Whatever your symptoms, you know that it is only the beginning of what is to come.
When you notice the first signs of a cold, it’s best to be proactive about your care to limit the severity of your symptoms and get yourself feeling better, faster.
Some tips to prevent a cold include getting enough rest, reducing stress, and keeping your body hydrated. Let’s discuss them a bit more.
Table of Contents
- What Causes a Cold?
- Early Symptoms of a Cold
- How to Prevent & Stop a Cold When You Feel It Coming On?
- What Medicine to Take When You Feel a Cold Coming On?
- When to Speak to a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
What Causes a Cold?
A cold results from a viral infection that makes its way into the body through the mouth, nose, or eyes, typically passed on by another infected individual. The most common viruses are rhinoviruses, which cause 30-50% of all colds, but there are many other types.
Early Symptoms of a Cold
Some of the first signs of a cold may include:
- runny or stuffy nose
- sore throat
- sinus pain or pressure
The first symptom to appear is not always the same, and you might not even associate your symptom with a cold at first. But if you are feeling uncomfortable or begin to develop additional symptoms, it is best to be proactive about your health and start preventative care to give your body the best possible chance of fighting the infection.
How to Prevent & Stop a Cold When You Feel It Coming On?
The problem with colds is that since they are due to viral infections, there is no cure. For colds, all you can do is wait for the immune system to finish attacking the virus. However, there are some things you can do to relieve some of your symptoms and help the immune system out, helping you feel better, faster.
Drink Your Water
It’s essential to make sure you stay adequately hydrated at any time, but it is especially important when you are feeling under the weather. If you are dehydrated, your cold symptoms can worsen, and you may begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded, and fatigued. Proper hydration is also essential to ensure that your immune system can function properly, as water is a necessary component.
In addition, if your cold is manifesting as throat congestion, drinking hot liquids can help break up this congestion, making you more comfortable. Stick to the herbal teas, though, as caffeinated beverages may worsen your symptoms. Honey is also an excellent addition to teas, as honey has antioxidant properties that may combat infections and can also help ease a sore throat.
Stress can take quite a toll on the immune system, suppressing its ability to protect the body. If you want to give your immune system the best possible chance against infections, you will want to try and reduce your stress.
Some good tips for reducing stress include taking a warm bath (which may also help with your congestion) and practicing deep breathing or meditation.
Your immune system works its best when you are sleeping, so it is important to give your body plenty of rest when you feel a cold coming on.
Try Some Supplements
Research suggests that taking supplements of vitamin C and Zinc can help lessen the duration of your cold symptoms because they help to strengthen your immune system.
What Medicine to Take When You Feel a Cold Coming On?
There are some over-the-counter options that you can take if you feel a cold coming on to help manage your symptoms.
To help relieve some pain, you can take medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Decongestants help ease any sinus pressure and stuffy noses. If you have a sore throat, a throat lozenge can help ease the irritation. Finally, cough syrups can help reduce any coughs.
However, not everyone should take these medications, depending on other medications you take and medical conditions. Always check with a doctor to see if it is safe to take these medications.
When to Speak to a Doctor?
A cold will typically go away, on its own, in 7-10 days. If you are still feeling under the weather after that time, especially if you have done the above solutions to help you feel better, schedule a visit with a doctor to see if they can help you determine the cause, as it may be more serious than a common cold.
Additionally, if at any point you are struggling to breathe, or experience any other severe symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Get Help From an Online Doctor
If you are unsure about taking an OTC medication, an online doctor is an excellent resource to help answer any questions you may have. With DrHouse, you can meet with a doctor within 15 minutes, and they can help you figure out a plan on how best to manage your cold. If your cold lasts longer than 10 days, an online doctor can help you figure out what the best next steps are to determine the cause of your lasting symptoms.
Colds are never pleasant, and since they are from viral infections, it’s impossible to cure them. In most cases, you have to let your cold run its course. That being said, there are still proactive steps you can take to help fight your cold when it is still in its early stages.
Getting extra sleep, drinking fluids, taking supplements, and reducing stress are all steps you can take that help improve your immune system, letting your body fight the infection faster. In addition, there are some medications you can take to make your symptoms more bearable.
Colds typically go away on their own after 10 days, so if your cold persists past that point, check in with a doctor to see what the cause is. An online doctor is a great option to quickly speak to a doctor about your symptoms, all from the comfort of your house.
- How to prevent a cold when you feel it coming on. (2021). https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-to-prevent-a-cold-when-you-feel-it-coming-on#summary
- Cold Versus Flu. (2021). https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm
- Common Colds. (2021). https://www.cdc.gov/ncird/rhinoviruses-common-cold.html
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