They give stress the boot
Your state of mind affects your health, so it’s no surprise that research shows being stressed out can downshift your immunity, making it difficult for your body to fight off a cold. In a landmark study from Ohio State University, researchers found that during exam period, college students produced fewer natural killer cells, which fight tumors and viral infections; they nearly ceased production of immunity-boosting gamma interferon; and their infection-fighting T-cells responded only weakly to test-tube stimulation. What’s more, when you’re under pressure, you’re more likely to adopt unhealthy coping behaviors—such as drinking too much coffee or eating junk food—that further lower your immunity. When you feel a cold coming on, your immune system kicks into high gear to fight it, but stress hinders that process. To counter the effects of stress, doctors try to grab as much shut-eye as they can and try other strategies like running, listening to music, meditating or these 15 other instant stress relievers.
They head off symptoms
As soon as you notice one of these clear signs a cold is coming on, head to the drugstore for some over-the-counter relief. To help with aches and soreness, take a pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. To clear your sinuses and ease symptoms such as a runny nose and watery eyes, look for decongestants, which will shrink swollen blood vessels and nasal tissue so you can breathe. Or combine the two in a product like Extra-strength Tylenol Sinus or Advil Cold and Sinus. If you tend to get side effects from decongestants—trouble sleeping, feeling jittery—try a nasal spray such as Afrin, but use it for no more than three days to prevent dependency.