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Women's Health

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Treating Cold and Flu: Your Shopping List



Although more research is needed, studies have shown that vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc lozenges may help shorten the duration of cold symptoms. Tell your doctor about any vitamins or supplements you take, and always ask your doctor before giving a supplement to a child.


To check for fever, use a rectal thermometer to check an infant or toddler's temperature.

Other items to have on hand:

  • Cool mist vaporizer or humidifier. These may help relieve coughing and congestion. Change the water frequently to avoid mold and bacteria in the water.
  • Bottles of throat spray. Throat sprays that contain a local anesthetic numb a sore throat to relieve pain. Ask your doctor before giving to a child under age 3.
  • Jar of mentholated rub. Dab some under (not in) your nose to relieve skin irritated from wiping and blowing your nose. The menthol vapors may also relieve nose congestion.
  • Box of nasal strips (10-12 strips). These may help relieve congestion in your nose by opening up your nasal passages.

From the Grocery

Warm liquids

Warm liquids like tea and soup may soothe a sore throat and help relieve congestion. Black tea and green tea have disease-fighting antioxidants. Decaffeinated herbal tea can be soothing and hydrating.


Be sure to throw away a tissue after wiping your nose. Used tissues can spread the cold virus to whatever they touch.


Disinfectants can help clean surfaces like door handles, keyboards, and light switches of cold germs. When you can't wash your hands, gel sanitizers or alcohol-based wipes with 60%-90% alcohol get rid of germs.

Other items to have on hand:

  • Honey. Honey in warm water or tea can help relieve a cough or sore throat. Don't give honey to a child under age 1.
  • Citrus fruits and juices (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes). It's not clear whether these fruits -- rich in vitamin C -- will help prevent or treat a cold. But they are loaded with antioxidants that are good for your overall health.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 03, 2014
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