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Have a Cold? Doctor’s Orders: Try Zinc, Stay Mobile

zinc_supplements_400It seems counterintuitive, but sleeping all day actually won’t help you get better faster. Plus, reduce the length of your cold with zinc, but learn what kind to take and how to take it–it matters. From A Short Guide to a Long Life.

We all do it: cuddle up in bed with the shades drawn when we’re nursing a bad cold or stomach virus. But part of the art of dealing with sickness means sticking to our routines as much as possible. Lying in bed all day in the dark might not be what’s best for us if we want a quick recovery. Our lymph system, after all, plays a big part in fighting infections, but it won’t send out its germ-fighting troops unless the body is mobile. So walk around when you’re under the weather. Keep your body’s internal clock on time by exposing it to the daylight; avoid creating a nighttime setting when the sun is out or you’ll throw your body’s circadian rhythm out of whack and give it another challenge to overcome in addition to illness.

When you feel a cold coming on (say, the beginnings of a scratchy throat), start sucking on zinc lozenges (more specifically, zinc acetate, the form of the metal most effective at fighting colds). Zinc—not echinacea or vitamin C—is about the only thing proven to reduce the duration of a cold. Let them melt in your mouth; they won’t be of any use if you chew and swallow them. The zinc needs to be absorbed by your oral blood vessels. Shoot for 75 milligrams a day—roughly one lozenge every few hours. And drink warm liquids such as herbal teas or water with honey and lemon. The sweetness and acidity can stimulate salivation to clear your throat and sinuses. Warm drinks soothe the mucous membranes in your nose, mouth, and throat, reducing irritation.

If you think you’re coming down with the flu, call your doctor right away and ask about antiviral remedies that can help you gain the upper hand sooner rather than later.

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