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Outsmarting the Sniffles

Welcome to cold season -- when your kid may bring home a nasty bug or two. Ways to stay strong at the first sign you're coming down with something:

Kick into low gear. Do less so you can rest more -- it boosts your immune system. Forget about clearing off the kitchen counter for a couple of days.

Think zinc. When taken within 24 hours of the first throat tickle, it's been shown to shorten the duration of cold symptoms by a couple of days. Opt for nasal gel -- the formulation studied -- which you can find in drugstores. You'll skip the bad taste and burning sensation of zinc lozenges. As for vitamin C and echinacea, new studies haven't found that they fight colds.

Have a drink ... of water, that is, as well as juice. While there are no studies that prove pumping up fluids will shorten the amount of time you're sick, most doctors recommend it. Hot liquids like ginger tea and chicken soup help clear congestion. Add garlic or chili peppers to your soup for extra decongestant power.