Blame the change of seasons or the overzealous air conditioner in your office—either way, you’ve somehow found yourself nursing a cold. Catching your cold at the right time and before it gets really bad is important. Compiled from InStyle, here is a list of four remedies and lifestyle tweaks that might reduce your sniffles and help you to ease into flu season.

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1. Increase your fluid intake
“When your system is compromised with a cold, it’s extra important to stay hydrated,” says Dr Robert Huizenga, associate professor of clinical medicine at UCLA. It is recommended to increase your water and vitamin-C heavy juice intake and make sure it is almost twice your daily intake. Staying hydrated helps you cut down on cold symptoms such as a sore throat and stuffy nose. Increasing your liquid consumption will reduce congestion and keep your nasal passages moist which helps in getting rid of bacteria.

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2. Get a good night’s sleep
Resting up gives your body and your immune system the chance to recharge and be more effective against the viruses. In the early stages of a cold, an extra one or two hours of sleep can do wonders, explains Dr Huizenga. A study in the Archive of Internal Medicine discovered that the people who slept less than seven hours a night were three times more prone to getting a cold than those who slept eight or more hours per night. So if you feel a cold coming, make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep at night.

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3. Head to the drugstore
Whenever you catch yourself sniffing and coughing, taking some medicines will be quite helpful. Over-the-counter allergy medicines, such as Zyrtec and Benadryl, help with symptoms such as a runny nose and watery eyes. Zinc has been proven to be quite helpful when it comes to colds as some studies suggest that it reduces the duration and severity of a cold if taken 24 hours within the onset of symptoms. Zinc is available quite commonly in drugstores in the form of lozenges, tablets and syrups.

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4. Gargle with salt water
To combat a sore throat, gargling with salt water is one of the quickest natural remedies. “The salt draws out excess water in your throat’s tissues, reducing the inflammation, and clears mucous and irritants from the back of the throat,” notes Philip Hagen, chief medical editor of Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies. The rinse also flushes out bacteria and viruses, which may help whether you’re getting a cold or want to prevent one in the first place. Try adding a half a tablespoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water and gargle away.

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