Wellness Wednesday: How doctors manage colds, flu when they get sick

Dr. Frank McGeorge's tips on preventing, treating colds this winter

People ask how they can get better from a cough, sore throat, runny nose all the time, especially during cold and flu season. This is Dr. Frank McGeorge's personal recipe for combating and preventing  illness.

Step one is to avoid getting sick, McGeorge said he gets a flu shot every year. A well-balanced diet, regular exercising and restful sleep are all key to maintaining your immune system's peak performance, he said.

"As an ER doctor, I deal with a lot of sick people and hand washing is critical," McGeorge said. "I wash my hands regularly and thoroughly."

At the first sight of a telltale sign — a sniffle, tickle in your throat — give your immune system a boost by avoiding overexertion, getting a little more rest and staying hydrated, McGeorge said.

"Once I get sick, it's all about managing the symptoms," he said.

Fighting the symptoms: 

  • For fever — McGeorge said he prefers Motrin for body aches and warm temperatures. Tylenol is also a good alternative.

  • For a sore throat —​​​​​​​ Gargle with warm salt water, drink the "unscientific concoction" of honey, tea and lemon.
  • For congestion —​​​​​​​ Rinse sinuses in a steamy shower using a Neti Pot.
  • For a runny nose —​​​​​​​ Slow it down using a pseudoephedrine, although McGeorge said he is not a fan of antihistamines.

"I personally think it's good to cough if you have something to cough up, so I don't use cough suppressants," McGeorge said.

McGeorge also debunked a common health myth.

"As far as the wisdom behind starving either a cold or fever — they're both wrong," he said. "When you're sick, you should eat and drink as much as you can, starving just puts more strain on your body and immune system."

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