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Getting rid of a cold

Getting rid of a cold

Stefano Mirabello NowPatientGreen tick
Medically reviewed by Stefano Mirabello, BPharm and written by Rajive Patel, BPharm - Updated on 10 Nov 2023
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OverviewWhat are the symptoms of the common cold?What can I take for my cold?Sources

As yet, there’s no medication or home remedy for the common cold (Upper Respiratory tract Infections), but you may be able to shorten the amount of time you are sick by taking better care of yourself or trying some supplements.

What are the symptoms of the common cold?

Typical symptoms of a cold include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, sore throat and headaches. It can sometimes be difficult to know whether you have cold or flu symptoms, but as a rule, flu tends to be more severe.

What can I take for my cold?

Cold symptoms are part of your body’s natural healing processes and unfortunately, the symptoms can be annoying. Most of the time your body does not require any help, but you can take cold medicines or look after yourself to get over your cold faster.

Hot liquids can help to soothe a sore throat and provide much-needed fluids. But chicken soup has no other magical qualities that can help fight the flu. Warm liquids may help to speed up the movement of mucus through the nose and prevent dehydration, but there is no evidence to show that chicken soup will help cure a cold.

Antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infections but aren’t effective in combatting viral infections caused by the cold virus.

Take painkillers Painkillers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol (acetaminophen) and aspirin are the only medication known to treat colds.

Over The Counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. You can also try sore throat sprays or zinc lozenges.

Decongestant nasal sprays help to ease congestion and can be used to relieve nasal congestion. Be careful to not overuse these nasal sprays as they can cause the side effect of rebound congestion.

Antihistamines can dry up your runny nose. These drugs block the chemical that causes sneezing and sniffling of a cold fast.

Cough suppressants to relieve irritation from dry coughs.

Nasal sprays For paediatrics put several saline drops into one nostril, then gently suction that nostril with a bulb syringe. Saline nasal sprays may be used in older children and adults.

Echinacea is a herbal supplement that may reduce the length of a cold by 1.4 days according to an older study in the Lancet Infectious Diseases. Those who drank a small amount of beetroot juice seven times a day showed fewer cold symptoms than those who had not.

Eucalyptus Use small dabs of salve containing menthol, eucalyptus and camphor to help to relieve a stuffy nose. However, apply it only on the outside and avoid putting it inside the nasal passages.

Eat Garlic Garlic possesses antioxidants with antimicrobial, antiviral and antibiotic properties. On top of that, it aids with decongestion to clear up the sinuses pronto.

Eat well The cold weather can make us want to comfort eat, especially junk food. But try to avoid fatty, unhealthy food. Instead, opt for a healthy well-balanced diet, such as fruit and veggies, potatoes, whole grain bread, rice and pasta, or other carbohydrates or foods with a good mix of healthy fats and proteins, such as chicken, fish, beans and pulses.

Drink lots of fluids both hot and cold. Keeping hydrated is vital. Natural remedies such as hot teas, sage, ginger, lemon, camomile, liquorice root, slippery elm and green tea can also help ease a sore throat. For those suffering from inflammation of the mucus membranes, fresh turmeric tea is perfect as an anti-inflammatory.

Sleep well A lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness. A good night’s sleep is one of the best and natural ways to feel fully energised and to boost energy. Try and get at least 7/8 hours sleep per night. Get to bed at least an hour earlier than usual for a week or more. Try to relax before you go to bed and don’t look at mobile devices for at least an hour before, as the blue light stimulates the brain and can affect the quality of sleep you have. So, make sure you go to bed early, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. If you can’t get at least eight hours, try fitting in a power nap or two during the day. You’ll feel more rested if you do.

Saltwater gargle Try rinsing your throat with a saltwater gargle – add a teaspoon of salt and dissolve in a glass of warm water, this can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.

Take a hot shower or bath Breathing in steam may moisten a scratchy throat and nose, as well as loosen any congestion.

A vaporiser or humidifier can help add moisture to the air in your home. It might help loosen congestion. You will need to change the water daily, and clean the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Vitamin C Despite studies, the jury is still out on some popular cold remedies. Taking vitamin C won’t usually help the average person prevent colds. However, some studies have found that taking vitamin C before cold symptoms start may actually shorten the length of time you do have symptoms.

Cut down on your booze The more you drink the weaker your immune system becomes, this is when colds and flu will attack. Alcohol helps many people to relax and fall asleep, but you will sleep less deeply when you’ve had a drink, so even if you get 8 hours sleep it may not be “quality sleep” and this can again impact your immune system. Try and limit your weekly alcohol intake and stick to the recommended units per week.

Don’t smoke We all know by now the harm smoking can have on our health. It can affect our breathing, heart function and there is a strong link to causing cancers. But did you know that the smoke in cigarettes paralyses the cilia, the hair-like cells lining your nose and airways. These cilia normally sweep incoming viruses away before they can cause an infection.

Sources

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NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information in this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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