Stop a Cold in Just 12 Hours
By Sari Harrar
Before your sniffles morph into a nasty sinus, chest, or ear infection,
here's how to fight back
Mugs of tea, a bottle of ibuprofen, and a truckload of tissues won't get you
through every case of the sniffles. Too often, the common cold turns into
something more serious, zeroing in on your personal weak point to become a
sinus infection, a sore throat, a nonstop cough, an attack of bronchitis, or an
ear infection. And if you're prone to a particular complication — thanks,
perhaps, to an anatomical quirk (such as sinus obstructions), an underlying
medical problem (early asthma, for example), or a history of a particular
illness (childhood ear infections) — your odds of getting sicker, faster, can
But complications aren't inevitable, new research shows. "With the right
strategies, you can cut your risk significantly," says Gailen D. Marshall,
Ph.D., M.D., director of the division of clinical immunology and allergy at the
University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
The trick: Act quickly. "The problem isn't the virus replicating in your
respiratory tract. The congestion and thick, trapped mucus that lead to
complications are caused by the immune system's response to the infection,"
says pioneering cold researcher Jack M. Gwaltney, M.D., professor emeritus in
the department of internal medicine at the University of Virginia School of
Medicine. "It all begins within 10 to 12 hours after infection starts. You
should take action the minute you feel the first symptoms of a cold — the
scratchy throat, runny nose, and sneezing."
Find out what to do if you are prone to...
- Sinus Infections
- Acute Bronchitis
- Ear Infections