When I lived on the Upper East Side, the Wildfire (or was it Wildlflower?) Cafe sold an amazing smoothie called the Flu-Buster. Four dollars would buy you a concoction of zinc, aloe, echinacea, orange juice, Vitamin C, honey, lemon, ginger and cayenne. It was gross. But it would blast through your sinuses, melting phlegm, coating your chords and allowing you to sing another day.
Unfortunately, the Wildfire/flower Cafe closed when Jamba Juice moved in a few blocks down. With my flu-busting elixir gone, I had to learn how to avoid colds and flu on my own. I wouldn't go so far as to say I never get sick anymore, but when I do, I get over it quickly. Here's what I do.
When I start to feel that distinctive tickle in the back of my throat, the first thing I do is cancel everything and lay down. It took me 30 years to figure out that if I'm starting to feel sick, and I rest, I FEEL BETTER!! (Isn't that amazing?) I used to get colds that would last for weeks. Now, when I feel a cold coming on, I get coverage at work, I skip the gym, and I lie on the couch or my bed and rest. You may still get hit with a cold, but you will get over it faster if you greet it aggressively-- that is, by not doing anything at all.
2. Vitamin C
When my husband feels himself starting to get sick, which is rare for him, lucky bastard, he downs 500 mg of Vitamin C EVERY TWO HOURS. Excessive as that may seem, it works. When someone tells me he or she is starting to feel sick, my first question is, "How much Vitamin C are you taking?" Usually the response is, "Oh, I just took some Vitamin C drops." That's fine, but those Halls drops have just 60 mg of Vitamin C each. So you need eight of them every two hours to begin to approximate what my husband takes. I take less Vitamin C than he does-- years of coffee drinking have ruined my stomach lining, so I'm sensitive to it-- but when I'm sick I still pop a 250 mg pill morning, noon and night. When he and I are perfectly healthy we drink juice, eat oranges or strawberries, or pop a Vitamin C pill once a day.
3. Fluids (Duh.)
Keep a glass of water next to you throughout the day. When you empty it, refill it. Keep pumping fluids-- no news here. Help your body flush the virus out of your system.
4. Don't Take Anything
If you have a final callback, if you can't get someone to cover your shift, if all the swings are already on and you have to go to work, take DayQuil, by all means. The stuff is genius. However, if you are able to lie on the couch, chugging Vitamin C and pounding fluids, do that instead. The problem with DayQuil is that it works too well. It suppresses your symptoms, making you feel like you have more energy than you ought to have, and before you know it, you aren't resting, you're getting all sorts of crap done. My experience has taught me that I will get over my cold quicker if I let my body fight it off.
NyQuil, on the other hand, I totally stand by. You will stay sick longer if you're up coughing all night.
5. Clean Everything
This last step seems like it should be obvious, but we so rarely do it. Clean everything you have breathed on or touched. Start with your sheets and towels. Do a load of laundry, or if you're feeling too sick, drop your duds at a Wash & Fold and pay someone to do it for you. (This is New York. Take advantage.) Next, take a Clorox bleach wipe or the fancy screen cleaner of your choice and wipe down your cell phone, your remote controls, your computer keyboard, anything your fingers might have touched. Spray your kitchen and bathroom counters with bleach. Then put some clean sheets on your bed, chug a glass of water, pop some NyQuil and some Vitamin C, and hop into bed. You'll feel better in the morning.