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Who's got time to be sick? Nip the cold before it nips you

Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:57 PM ET

Video: Dr. Roshini Raj and Dr. Adam Ofer join TODAY to discuss what works and doesn’t work in treating a cold, as well as chatting about a new study on women and reproductive health.

You wake up in a cold sweat, can’t breathe from your nose, and can barely swallow your throat is so sore. The common cold is all too common this time of year, and who has time or wants to be slowed down by feeling ill?

Surprising new research from a review in the recent edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveals what works and what doesn’t in preventing and treating a cold. Dr. Roshini Raj, the Assistant Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Dr. Adam Ofer, Director of Gynecology at Norwalk Hospital, join TODAY to discuss how these findings can help you stay healthy this winter.

Stop it before you're sick

The best way to deal with a common cold is to prevent it from hitting you in the first place.

“We're not good at treating it, so the best thing is to prevent it,” says Dr. Ofer.

Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often. Make sure you and your kids avoid touching your eyes — the mucosa around your eyes is a place where the viruses easily transfer from your hands to your bodies.

While many people load up on orange juice to prevent a cold, the recent study shows that vitamin C actually doesn’t help. Instead, try zinc. Science shows that kids who took 10-12 mg daily of zinc had fewer colds, says Dr Raj. Probiotics, which are known to be good for digestive health, have also been found to reduce the risks of colds.

Stay home

Taking antihistamines and pain relievers can be helpful, but it’s not good to overtreat yourself.

“You feel lousy, you should really be in bed under the covers. You take Tylenol, you feel terrific. You go out. Now you're infecting everybody else,” Dr. Ofer says.

If you have a low-grade fever, you are better off resting at home so you avoid spreading the virus and your body can fight the infection.

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