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What's your tried-and-true cold remedy? Germ-savvy share their secrets

Martha Stewart has said she fights a cold by locking her door and downloading the first season of "Downton Abbey." By the time she's through watching all seven episodes, the sniffles and scratchy throat are on the wane.

That's one way of dealing with the common cold, which includes a runny or stuffy nose, coughing and sore throat and, while generally an inevitable winter complaint, is not as severe as the flu. Medical experts say there really is no cure for a cold, which can come from 200 different viruses, but there are many ways of waiting it out and lessening the symptoms.

In this cold season, germ-savvy people have their favorite personal cold remedies. Be they doctor or day-care center operator, what do they personally do at the first sign of a cold?

Kaiser family physician Lynn Mortensen, Santa Rosa — "I go for a walk, drink Good Earth caffeine-free tea, add an extra hour of sleep, wash my hands like crazy to help avoid spreading it. And avoid public contact until I am 24 hours fever-free."

Grade school teacher and mother Kimi Ogg, Santa Rosa — When she starts to feel physically drained, has sinus pressure and can rule out seasonal allergies she declares it a cold, goes to bed early and drinks more water.

"Calling in sick isn't an easy option," said Ogg, who teaches second grade at Steele Lane Elementary. "When I was a kid, my parents' approach was to tough it out. I didn't stay home from school unless I was burning up or throwing up. If it was bad, they gave me orange Triaminic (children's cold medicine)."

With her own four-year-old and 10-month-old, Ogg said she and her husband try not to immediately jump to spoon out medicine.

"We use humidifiers, elevate mattresses, do saline rinses," she said. After that if there's no improvement, she calls the doctor.

During cold season in her classroom, she wipes off desks and counters with disinfectant and gets students to use hand sanitizer. Teachers, she believes, do develop "an immunity of steel" against colds but, she said, "my first couple years teaching I felt like I was constantly sick."

Business owner, meditation teacher and world traveler Barbara Hirschfeld, Sebastopol — "I take brisk walks in the fresh air as one of my remedies. It gets the blood moving and ventilates the body." She also takes Emergen-C, a powdered Vitamin C supplement, and has been getting a flu shot ever since she went one year to Bhutan and a flu shot was included with the rest of her immunizations.


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