A Magical Pill to Prevent Colds & Flus?

Doctor with an actor
Dr. Jahn, I’m a busy singer who wants a magical pill to protect me from getting a cold!

Dr. Jahn,

I’m a busy singer who wants a magical pill to protect me from getting a cold! Short of that – what are your top tips to avoid getting a cold/flu – you can leave out general health because I already work out every day….

– Will

Dear Will,

If I had that magic pill, you’d be contacting me care of the Nobel Prize Committee in Stockholm!

There is of course no such thing, but!…

Consider the following: Cold viruses are ubiquitous, and you will definitely come in contact with them during the cold season. The real crux of the matter is, how does your body deal with it? Here a list of things to do – always more difficult than just taking a pill…

1. Maintain Immunity

You need to maintain a high state of immunity – eat well, drink lots of water and sleep enough. Wash your hands frequently, don’t shake hands with sick people, and minimize touching your unwashed hand to your face. Cover your nose and mouth when in crowds or on public transportation to guard against the unexpected cough or sneeze. Wash you nose daily with saline. If someone has sneezed in your face, try inhaling warm steam and washing your nose to dislodge a possible virus.

2. Take Vitamin C

The closest I’ve come to a magic pill is Vitamin C. Take 1000 mg daily in the cold season. If a cold does start, either increase to 4000 mg (in divided doses), or switch to Airborne or Emergen-C, which are effervescent tables with Vitamin C, Echinacea and other cold remedies. I personally am usually able to abort a cold by “overdosing” on these OTC medications, which I start at the first sign of a chill.

3. If You Get One, Bundle Up

Lastly, don’t try to exercise through a cold – bundle up, drink your hot chicken soup and take your Airborne. Zinc is also useful – it shortens the cold, makes you less symptomatic, and less contagious to others.

-Anthony F. Jahn, MD, FACS, FRCS(C)

This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.

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