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October 8, 2008

Emergency: I Have a Cold!

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It's tough not to be a diva when a cold or flu strikes while deadlines loom. Some expert advice for shaking it off:

As a rule, internist Laura Fisher, M.D., stays home when her fever hits 100 degrees F; anything less and she's on the job at New York--Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "I clear congestion by taking a 10-minute steam shower and by drinking water, seltzer, and tea all day--no caffeine. I add a sports drink for the electrolytes, and I'm a firm believer in salty chicken soup. It's often impossible to find time for eight hours of sleep, but when I'm sick, I aim for that."

When some of Broadway's songstresses feel a tickle in their throats, they head to the theater district's Juice Generation. The order: Cold Warrior. What's inside: two cups hot green tea, juice of one orange, 1-inch piece of ginger (peeled and grated). Why it helps: The vitamin C in citrus ups the body's absorption rate of the immune boosters in green tea.

If it lingers for more than a week, check in with your doctor. If the cough is bacterial, he'll prescribe antibiotics. If it's viral--which it most often is--you're probably experiencing a temporary asthma-like condition, which can creep up after a long bout of cold or flu. What spells relief: a prescription steroid in the form of an inhaler.

2 WEEKS: The time it takes for a flu shot to start working.

This alcohol-free, nondrying hand sanitizer staves off nasty viruses. (Soapopular hand sanitizer; soapyusa.com)

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