I use Zicam once I start noticing the symptoms or cough drops that have some zinc in them. Studies have shown zinc decreases the duration of colds.
I also use ginger in my green tea, or if I have a really bad sore throat I've noticed that chewing on a piece of ginger helps numb the pain-up.
Sometimes I make a mixture of: 1 glass soy milk, 1/2 tsp. saffron, 1 1/2 tsp. grated ginger, 1 tsp. turmeric, and a little sugar...heat it up to almost boiling and drink it hot. It'a a variation of an Aurvedic recipe I was taught as a child. Turmeric is supposed to have great anti-septic properties...and in combination with the other ingredients really seems to work well for me.
Hope this helps!