Get Through Your Day With a Cough or Cold

Medically Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on June 05, 2016
2 min read

You have a cold, maybe an annoying cough. But what if you can't call in sick and you have to be at work? These tips can help you make it through the day.

Drink. Sip water, juice, broth, and other clear liquids all day. Staying hydrated helps your immune system fight sickness. It can also help loosen mucus and replace fluids you lose from blowing your nose. Keep a healthy supply of drinks right at your desk.

But avoid coffee, caffeinated sodas, and energy drinks. When it’s quitting time, say "no" to hot toddies. Alcohol is dehydrating, too.

Eat ice chips. If your throat hurts, ice chips may help with soreness and pain. Bonus: They’ll also keep you hydrated.

Spray. Use a saline spray to help a stuffy nose. It helps congestion by loosening mucus and rinsing your sinuses.

Numb up. If a hacking cough is wearing you out, keep cough drops, throat spray, and over-the-counter cough suppressants at your desk. The first two can help numb and soothe a sore throat. A cough suppressant can keep that "need to cough" feeling away.

Relieve your pain. Over-the-counter acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen bring down a fever and help with aches.

Other over-the-counter cold remedies can be helpful, too. But you should know that while they can make you feel a bit better, they won’t shorten how long you’re sick. Some cold medicines have pain relievers in them, too, so you could accidentally take more than you need. Read labels first, and try not to use more than one medication at a time.

Avoid smoke.Smoking, secondhand smoke, and other not-so-fresh air can really bother your nose, throat, and lungs. Make it easier on yourself while you’re getting better.

Still sick? Call your doctor. If you’ve been sick for 7 days and you’re not getting better -- or if you’re getting worse -- it may be more than a cold. Your cold (usually caused by a virus) may have given way to a bacterial infection. Call your doctor to see if you need antibiotics to clear it up.

Be a loner. To avoid passing your germs to co-workers, avoid contact with others as best you can. Sneeze and cough into the crook of your elbow -- not into your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water, and avoid shaking hands.

Rest. After work, go home and get a good meal -- try chicken soup. Then, get in bed! When you’re sick, your body needs rest and sleep. Give it what it needs to get better.

Vaporize. While you rest or sleep, run a clean humidifier or a cool-mist vaporizer in your room. It can ease stuffiness and help you breathe better.