- How to Get Rid of a Cold Quickly
- Your feel-better-fast checklist
- Eat garlic for added immunity
- Sip ginger tea to kill the cold virus
- Take turmeric to feel better
- Pop vitamin C to shorten your cold
- Help your body make more glutathione
- Supplement with vitamin D for killer defense
- Take zinc (with copper) to attack germs
- Detox with lemon honey lavender tea
- Use a sinus rinse to wipe out sniffles
- Take a detox bath to soothe cold symptoms
- Join over 1 million fans
- How to treat the common cold at home
- The Common Cold and Viral Respiratory Infection: Management and Treatment
- Home Remedies: Cold remedies that work
- How to Get Rid of a Cold
- Nausea & Vomiting: Care and Treatment
- 1) Have hot tea or chicken soup.
- 2) Gargle with salt water.
- 3) Take a steamy shower.
- 4) Relieve stress; maybe even meditate.
- 5) Consider zinc.
- 6) Try echinacea.
- 7) Consider OTCs
- 8) Eat the right foods.
- 9) Get enough sleep.
- 10) Wash your hands.
- How to get rid of a cold, fast: your need-to-know
- The Best Cold and Flu Medicines
- So, what’s the fastest way to get rid of a cold?
- 6 home remedies for cold and flu
- Should I exercise with a cold?
- And how do I prevent a cold, in the first place?
How to Get Rid of a Cold Quickly
- From soothing detox teas, to targeted supplements, to cleaning your nasal passages with salt water, these natural cold remedies will help you kick a cold before it starts — or limit the days it has you down.
- Your grandma was right. Learn how garlic, ginger, lavender and a hot bath can soothe your symptoms, and how vitamins help boost your body’s immune resistance.
- Plus, get Bulletproof recommendations for supplements designed to help you feel your best all season long.
Whether it’s the weather change, traveling by plane or visiting someone in the hospital, something or someone exposes you to whatever bug is going around. Next, you feel that tickle in your throat, the slight burning in your sinuses and that first chill — uh oh. Your body is giving you clear signs that you’re getting sick.
Once you feel a cold coming on, you might think you’re past the point of no return. Instead of just letting it run its course, there are things you can do to make yourself stronger, have fewer sick days or kick your cold altogether.
Below, get the best tips for how to beat a cold. Further down, learn the science behind why these cold remedies work.
Your feel-better-fast checklist
You feel like crap and just want some relief. Here is your quick-and-dirty guide to natural cold remedies that actually work.
See the Checklist
- Eat garlic: To get the benefit of garlic’s strong antibacterial properties, mince two cloves and let them sit for 15 minutes for the active compounds to develop. Combine with olive oil and salt, then spread on your tasty snack of choice.
- Drink ginger tea: Ginger’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties help ward off the cold virus and soothe headaches or sore throats.
- Supplement with curcumin: Turmeric’s active compound reduces inflammation to relieve congestion. Don’t love the taste of turmeric, or find it hard to fit regularly into your diet? Try Bulletproof Curcumin Max — it absorbs 10 times better than standard 95% curcumin powders.
- Pop vitamin C: The jury’s out on whether or not vitamin C will help prevent a cold, but studies show it can reduce the number of days you’re sick.
- Add glutathione: Master antioxidant glutathione strengthens the immune system and works with vitamin C to blast your cold. Take a glutathione supplement or get it from a high-quality whey protein.
- Don’t forget vitamin D: Vitamin D keeps your immune system in fighting shape, and it works even better when it’s paired with vitamin K.
- Take zinc: Studies have shown zinc can shorten your cold by as many as three days. When loading up on zinc, make sure it’s paired with copper so you don’t deplete your stores.
- Use a nasal rinse: Sounds weird, but rinsing your sinuses helps clear out germs and relieve cold symptoms.
- Take a bath: Add epsom salts, essential oils or bentonite clay to your tub to soothe symptoms and ease inflammation. Don’t have time for a soak? Try taking a magnesium supplement.
Get what you need to tackle your cold with Bulletproof Immune and Detox Supplements
Eat garlic for added immunity
The scientific community needs more data on garlic’s ability to keep vampires away, but research and centuries of traditional use have solidified garlic’s abilities as a natural cold remedy. Raw garlic has strong antibiotic and antifungal properties that give your immune system a boost, so you can get rid of your cold, stat.
Garlic is in the caution zone on the Bulletproof Diet roadmap because it can inhibit alpha brainwaves and may affect your mood. So while it might not be best to eat garlic every day, eat it immediately when you feel the first sign of a cold.
Avoid elephant garlic because it doesn’t have the same antimicrobial oomph that other varieties have. Also, get your garlic from a grocer you can trust, and check the bulbs for mold.
Here’s our recommended preparation: Smash two garlic cloves in a bowl and let them sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the active compounds to develop so you get the full cold-busting benefit. Mix this with olive oil and spread on something fresh and tasty — or if you can handle it, pop a smashed clove in your mouth and eat it raw (as the tears stream down your face).
Sip ginger tea to kill the cold virus
When you feel a cold in your sinuses, most of the time you’re dealing with the germ rhinovirus. Ginger contains sesquiterpenes — antiseptic and anti-inflammatory chemicals that can target rhinovirus, making it an ideal cold remedy. Ginger’s energizing aroma and warming effects can help ease headaches and sore throats, too.
Ginger is easy to add to your cold-busting regimen. If you’re hardcore, peel the root, slice it thin, and eat it raw (again, queue the tears). If you want a more soothing experience, make ginger tea or peel and grate a knob of the root and add it to bone broth, another cold-soothing elixir.
Take turmeric to feel better
When you see a bright golden curry or sauce, you can guess that turmeric is a star ingredient. Historically used to treat a variety of diseases (and for its flavor), turmeric has been a staple in Eastern medicine and cuisine for thousands of years. It’s likely you’ve seen it popping up in capsules and extracts for its inflammation-reducing properties and antioxidant and antiviral activity.
Reaching for turmeric when you have a cold makes perfect sense because the active compound, curcumin, can help keep your inflammation in check and regulate your immune system. Translation: It has potential to take the edge off of your symptoms, and depending on what you have, it might shorten the duration of your cold.
Your body doesn’t readily absorb curcumin without some help. That’s why Bulletproof Curcumin Max is designed to absorb 10 times better than standard curcumin 95% powders, and it’s made with Brain Octane oil to boost the absorption of complementary ingredients like boswellia and ginger.
Try this: To get the cold-busting properties of turmeric into your diet, take a curcumin extract supplement, mix fresh or powdered turmeric into your bone broth or try this soothing turmeric latte.
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Pop vitamin C to shorten your cold
The jury’s out as to whether vitamin C can help you prevent a cold, but studies show that vitamin C can help you get over a cold more quickly.
How much vitamin C should you take? According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily amount for adults is 65-90mg a day, and the upper limit is 2,000mg a day. When you have a cold, your body will burn through much more vitamin C than it usually uses, so experiment with the dosage throughout the day and see how you feel. You’ll know when you’ve had too much — you’ll feel digestive discomfort when it’s time to scale back.
Heads up: If you have a stomach issue like acid reflux or GERD, high-dose ascorbic acid (vitamin C) might exacerbate symptoms. Ask your doctor about other forms of vitamin C, like a whole-food version or ascorbate. Some people swear by intravenous (IV) vitamin C — talk to your doctor before you try it.
Help your body make more glutathione
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals — compounds that can damage your cells. Your body makes some of its own antioxidants, including a powerful one called glutathione. It detoxifies your body, helping it fight off infections like the common cold.
Glutathione is busy when you’re under the weather, acting on inflammation, toxins, free radicals and pathogens. However, your supply can deplete quickly when your body is stressed — like when your immune system is battling a cold.
Glutathione has a hand in antioxidant defenses, too, so get a little extra juju out of your vitamin C when you take it with glutathione. Try it as a supplement, like Bulletproof Glutathione Force, or load up on foods that help your body make more glutathione, like whey protein.
Supplement with vitamin D for killer defense
Vitamin D is arguably the most important nutrient for almost everyone to supplement. Well, everyone who wears clothes and doesn’t live in the tropics. Of the bajillion benefits of vitamin D, one of them is its role in the immune system.
Vitamin D supports your cytotoxic T-cells, otherwise known as the “killer cells.” These cells hang around the body, waiting for the immune system to signal them into action. Once the immune response is underway, these T-cells search for and destroy invaders like the cold virus. Vitamin D has a key role in the signaling mechanism. Just as importantly, vitamin D plays a role in the “at ease, soldiers” signal to the killer T-cells when the attack is over.
Vitamin D supplements are easy to find. Take it with vitamin K to support its effects, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A to combat inflammation by giving those T-cells an even bigger boost. Bulletproof Vitamins A-D-K gives you science-backed doses of all three vitamins in one pill. Easy.
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- Everything You Want to Know About Joint Supplements
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Take zinc (with copper) to attack germs
The typical American diet doesn’t include a whole lot of zinc-rich foods. Even if you get adequate amounts, fighting a cold really plows through your supply, and your body cannot store it. Zinc is one of those nutrients you have to keep up on.
Your immune function and energy production (which your cells need when you’re fighting a cold) depends on an adequate supply of zinc. Of course, you can find zinc supplements everywhere, and it’s a start. But zinc and copper together (like what you’ll find in Bulletproof Zinc with Copper) form an antioxidant powerhouse called copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD). It’s one of your body’s most effective defenses, so consider it a must-have in your arsenal of cold remedies.
Another reason zinc and copper play better together: If you’re supplementing zinc, your body will find copper wherever it can to make CuZnSOD, which can deplete your supply if you’re low. The problem is that a zinc-to-copper imbalance may increase your risk of heart attack. If your zinc supplement doesn’t have any copper, up your intake of foods like dark leafy greens, cacao and organ meats.
Detox with lemon honey lavender tea
When you’re under the weather, combine lemon juice, lavender tea, coconut charcoal and raw honey to taste. The ingredients of this calming tea have amazing properties, like:
- Lavender: Soothing, relaxing and anti-microbial
- Lemon: Vitamin C powerhouse
- Coconut charcoal: Binds to toxins and helps get them out of your system
- Raw honey: Anti-microbial and helps soothe sore throats
Oh, and it tastes amazing. Don’t let the black charcoal throw you — it doesn’t taste like much. The lavender and lemon steal the show here.
Use a sinus rinse to wipe out sniffles
Irrigating your nasal passages sounds like a really unpleasant experience, but people who do it swear by it as a head-clearing cold-remedy. The basic premise is that rinsing your sinuses will clear out the snot, relieve your congestion and prevent your cold from spreading throughout your sinuses.
Nasal irrigation comes in many forms — saline spray, neti pot and yogic basin rinses. Saline (saltwater solution) keeps the sinuses moist, making your nose feel more comfortable. You can buy saline solution for an at-home nasal rinse, or make your own.
Take a detox bath to soothe cold symptoms
When you have a cold, soaking your cares away in the tub makes you feel better almost instantly. While not a remedy, per se, the warm water can relax stiff muscles and joints, while the moist air opens up congested sinuses and calms coughing. Adding things like essential oils, epsom salts and bentonite clay can turn your plain old soak into a detox bath.
Bentonite clay is an adsorbent. That’s not a typo — adsorbents attract molecules with a positive charge. A lot of impurities have a positive charge, so bentonite clay draws the yuck to the surface of your skin, shortening the path to your pores where it can be eliminated.
Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate crystals found at pretty much any pharmacy or supermarket. They are super easy to use — simply add some to your bath as the water fills the tub.
When the hot water opens your pores, your skin absorbs magnesium from the epsom salts. Magnesium has calming effects, and coupled with the relaxing warmth, you’ll be ready for a good night’s sleep when you get out of the tub. Your immune system fights hard while you’re sleeping, so anything you can do to get a restful night’s sleep will help your body recover from a cold more quickly.
Since you absorb electrolytes in an epsom salt bath, you’ll probably need to drink a little extra water after your soak. Water is essential for flushing your system, so keep your fluids up whether you tub it or not.
Essential oils are another fantastic addition to your bath when you’re working on getting rid of a cold. The steam from your tub diffuses the oils so you can breathe them in, and the oil moisturizes your skin. You cannot dilute essential oils in water — they will form full-strength drops at the surface. Instead, dilute a few drops in a teaspoon or so of carrier oil before adding them to the water. Of course, be careful exiting the tub so you don’t slip.
Each essential oil offers unique benefits. Eucalyptus can soothe stuffed sinuses and open up a stuffy nose, lemon boosts the immune system and lavender has a calming effect that goes great with a warm soak.
How quickly you get rid of your cold depends on what bug you have and how strong your immune system is when it hits. Be sure to consult your doctor if you get hit with a superbug that takes you down quickly. Some illnesses are no match for any of these remedies, and others will respond to something as simple as a little extra vitamin C — you’ll learn more as you experiment with different remedies.
Now you have a variety of tools to throw at your next cold, so you can get back in the game pronto. Want more tips to boost your immune system? Discover ashwagandha’s benefits for stress, anxiety and immunity. Or learn why CLA, a quality fat in grass-fed butter, can help you support your immune system and fight inflammation.
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How to treat the common cold at home
Treating your symptoms will not make your cold go away, but will help you feel better. Antibiotics are almost never needed to treat a common cold.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) help lower fever and relieve muscle aches.
- DO NOT use aspirin.
- Check the label for the proper dose.
- Call your provider if you need to take these medicines more than 4 times per day or for more than 2 or 3 days.
Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines may help ease symptoms in adults and older children.
- They are not recommended for children under age 6. Talk to your provider before giving your child OTC cold medicine, which can have serious side effects.
- Coughing is your body’s way of getting mucus out of your lungs. So use cough syrups only when your cough becomes too painful.
- Throat lozenges or sprays for your sore throat.
Many cough and cold medicines you buy have more than one medicine inside. Read the labels carefully to make sure you do not take too much of any one medicine. If you take prescription medicines for another health problem, ask your provider which OTC cold medicines are safe for you.
Drink plenty of fluids, get enough sleep, and stay away from secondhand smoke.
Wheezing can be a common symptom of a cold if you have asthma.
- Use your rescue inhaler as prescribed if you are wheezing.
- See your provider immediately if it becomes hard to breathe.
The Common Cold and Viral Respiratory Infection: Management and Treatment
Can colds and the flu be “cured” with medications?
No medicines can “cure” colds and flu. However, there are many over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that can ease the discomfort caused by the symptoms of colds and flu. In addition, there are prescription medicines and a vaccine that can treat and prevent the flu.
Note on antibiotics: Colds and the flu are causes by viruses and cannot be cured with antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, such as strep throat and ear, skin, and urinary tract infections. Using antibiotics for infections they are not able to treat makes the antibiotics less effective for infections they are supposed to treat (a situation called antibiotic resistance). Never take antibiotics to treat colds and flu.
To ease the discomfort from specific cold and flu symptoms, consider using the following types of OTC medicines:
- To reduce fever and pain — analgesics: Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is generally preferred. Ibuprofen (Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®) is also commonly used. Aspirin should be avoided due to its risk of developing Reye’s syndrome. (Reye’s syndrome is a condition that affects all body organs and is most harmful to the brain and liver.) Note on acetaminophen: Read all cold medicine package labels. Do not take more than one drug that contains acetaminophen. Taking too much acetaminophen can damage your liver. Acetaminophen doses should not exceed 4 grams per day. Individuals with liver damage or liver problems should not exceed 2 grams of acetaminophen per day.
- To dry out the nose — antihistamines: Try an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl®). Because these products can make you sleepy, avoid driving and other complex tasks while taking these medicines. Loratadine (Claritin®), available (OTC), is a non-drowsy alternative, but may not be as effective as other antihistamines for reducing cold and flu symptoms. Other OTC antihistamines include Allegra®, Zyrtec®, and Xyzal®.
- To relieve a stuffy, clogged nose — decongestants:Try an oral decongestant, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®). However, insomnia, nervousness, and irritability can occur when taking these drugs. Those who are pregnant or have uncontrolled high blood pressure should avoid pseudoephedrine products. Often decongestants are combined with other drugs (especially antihistamines) in OTC medicines. A “-D” at the end of a medicine’s name means it includes an oral decongestant.
- To relieve a runny nose or sinus pressure — nasal steroids: Medications like fluticasone (Flonase®, available without a prescription) or mometasone (Nasonex®; prescription needed) can relieve symptoms. These medicines are also used for seasonal allergies. These are not the same as Afrin® or other OTC nasal preparations. Antihistamines will also help.
- To make blowing your nose easier or loosening cough/mucus production — expectorants: Try guaifenesin (Robitussin®, Mucofen®, Humibid LA®, Mucinex®, Humibid E®). These products help thin the thick, discolored drainage coming out of the nose and mouth.
- To reduce coughing — antitussives: Dextromethorphan can help suppress cough.
- To relieve a sore throat: Try throat lozenges (such as Cepacol®) or gargle with warm salt water a few times a day. Analgesics are also helpful.
- For other symptoms: OTC cold products (for example, Nyquil® or Tylenol Cold & Sinus®) can provide much relief. Be sure to read product labels to find the best cold preparation to match your symptoms and to determine if that medicine is safe for you.
What are other ways to treat and prevent the flu?
Antiviral prescription medicines and an annual flu vaccine are available for treating and preventing the flu.
Prescription anti-flu medicines include amantadine (Symmetrel®), rimantadine (Flumadine®), zanamivir (Relenza®), and oseltamivir (Tamiflu®). These drugs do not cure the flu, but they can make the symptoms milder and make you feel better more quickly. They are only effective when used in the first 48 hours of flu-like symptoms.
These drugs are not needed for healthy people who get the flu. They are usually reserved for people who are very sick with the flu (for example, those who have been hospitalized) or those who are at risk of complications from the flu, such as people with long-term chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes or chronic obstructive lung disease, asthma) or older age.
Flu vaccine (by shot and nasal spray). Although there is currently no vaccine against the common cold, there is a vaccine to prevent the flu. The vaccine is available by both shot and nasal spray. It works by exposing the immune system to the viruses. The body responds by building antibodies (the body’s defense system) against the flu. The flu shot contains dead flu viruses. The nasal spray contains live, but weakened, flu viruses. The nasal spray is only approved for healthy children and adults 2 to 49 years old and who are not pregnant.
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Home Remedies: Cold remedies that work
Cold remedies are almost as common as the common cold, but are they effective? Nothing can cure a cold, but there are some remedies that might help ease your symptoms and keep you from feeling so miserable. Here’s a look at some common cold remedies and what’s known about them.
Cold remedies that work
If you catch a cold, you can expect to be sick for one to two weeks. That doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. Besides getting enough rest, these remedies might help you feel better:
- Stay hydrated.
Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas, which can make dehydration worse.
Your body needs to heal.
- Soothe a sore throat.
A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat. Children younger than 6 years are unlikely to be able to gargle properly. You can also try ice chips, sore throat sprays, lozenges or hard candy. Don’t give lozenges or hard candy to children younger than 3 to 4 years old because they can choke on them.
- Combat stuffiness.
Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays can help relieve stuffiness and congestion. In infants, experts recommend putting several saline drops into one nostril, then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe. To do this, squeeze the bulb, gently place the syringe tip in the nostril about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (about 6 to 12 millimeters) and slowly release the bulb. Saline nasal sprays may be used in older children.
- Relieve pain.
For children 6 months or younger, give only acetaminophen. For children older than 6 months, give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ask your child’s health care provider for the correct dose for your child’s age and weight. Adults can take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or aspirin.Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 3, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
- Sip warm liquids.
A cold remedy used in many cultures, taking in warm liquids, such as chicken soup, tea, or warm apple juice, might be soothing and might ease congestion by increasing mucus flow.
- Add moisture to the air.
A cool mist vaporizer or humidifier can add moisture to your home, which might help loosen congestion. Change the water daily, and clean the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t use steam, which hasn’t been shown to help and may cause burns.
- Try over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medications.
For adults and children older than 5, OTC decongestants, antihistamines and pain relievers might offer some symptom relief. However, they won’t prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side effects. Experts agree that these shouldn’t be given to younger children. Overuse and misuse of these medications can cause serious damage.Take medications only as directed. Some cold remedies contain multiple ingredients, such as a decongestant plus a pain reliever, so read the labels of cold medications you take to make sure you’re not taking too much of any medication.
Cold remedies that don’t work
The list of ineffective cold remedies is long. Some of the more common ones that don’t work include:
These attack bacteria, but they’re no help against cold viruses. Avoid asking your doctor for antibiotics for a cold or using old antibiotics you have on hand. You won’t get well any faster, and inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to the serious and growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Over-the-counter cold and cough medications in young children.
OTC cold and cough medications may cause serious and even life-threatening side effects in children. The FDA warns against their use in children younger than age 6.
Cold remedies with conflicting evidence
In spite of ongoing studies, the scientific jury is still out on some popular cold remedies, such as vitamin C and echinacea. Here’s an update on some common alternative remedies:
- Vitamin C.
It appears that for the most part taking vitamin C won’t help the average person prevent colds. However, taking vitamin C before the onset of cold symptoms may shorten the duration of symptoms. Vitamin C may provide benefit for people at high risk of colds due to frequent exposure — for example, children who attend group child care during the winter.
Study results on whether echinacea prevents or shortens colds are mixed. Some studies show no benefit. Others show some reduction in the severity and duration of cold symptoms when taken in the early stages of a cold. Different types of echinacea used in different studies may have contributed to the differing results. Echinacea seems to be most effective if you take it when you notice cold symptoms and continue it for seven to 10 days. It appears to be safe for healthy adults, but it can interact with many drugs. Check with your health care provider before taking echinacea or any other supplement.
There’s been a lot of talk about taking zinc for colds ever since a 1984 study showed that zinc supplements kept people from getting as sick. Since then, research has turned up mixed results about zinc and colds. Some studies show that zinc lozenges or syrup reduce the length of a cold by one day, especially when taken within 24 hours of the first signs and symptoms of a cold. Zinc also has potentially harmful side effects. Talk to your health care provider before considering the use of zinc to prevent or reduce the length of colds.
This article is written by Mayo Clinic staff. Find more health and medical information on mayoclinic.org.
How to Get Rid of a Cold
Unfortunately, once you have one, there’s no way to get rid of a cold. But there are ways to ease your symptoms. Here are 5 Simple Remedies for Relief:
Drink for relief: Of course, proper nutrition is important to your overall health, but did you know that certain foods and drinks can help treat a cold? They may not get rid of a cold but they could help ease some of your cold symptoms. Warm drinks can offer relief for your cough and sore-throat symptoms by stimulating salivation and secretions to help soothe and lubricate your throat. So when you’re trying to treat a cold, hot tea can be helpful.
Sleep it off: Sleep is essential for your body to rest and heal. Even though it won’t help you get rid of a cold, sleep allows your immune system to fight off infections. Do your best to adjust your sleep schedule to get that extra rest that will help treat a cold. Plus, a humidifier or nasal decongestant can help you breathe better as you slumber.
Meditate: When wondering how to treat a cold, remember, you can only treat the symptoms of a cold. Studies show that stress hurts your ability to stay healthy, especially during cold and flu season. So try to keep stress at bay. Daily meditation breaks can ease stress and help you stay calm: Just close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a few minutes (or longer if you can swing it!).
Keep things clean: Cleanliness will help keep the virus under control and help prevent that cold from spreading. Make sure to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and at work, and be especially mindful to do so during cold and flu season, or whenever someone around you is sick.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. To feel better, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest. In the meantime, over-the-counter medications can help ease your symptoms. Although Vicks products cannot cure a cold, they can help you feel better. NyQuil Cold & Flu and DayQuil Cold & Flu are both good options since they contain a pain reliever/fever reducer and cough suppressant. If you’re suffering from additional symptoms, try NyQuil SEVERE Cold & Flu, which also contains a nasal decongestant and DayQuil SEVERE Cold & Flu, which contains an expectorant to help loosen phlegm (mucus) and thin bronchial secretions to make coughs more productive.
Again, these things won’t cure a cold but will help with the symptoms of a cold. Get well soon!
Nausea & Vomiting: Care and Treatment
What can be done to control or relieve nausea and vomiting?
There are several ways to control or relieve nausea; however, if these techniques do not seem to ease the queasiness, talk to your doctor.
When trying to control nausea:
- Drink clear or ice-cold drinks.
- Eat light, bland foods (such as saltine crackers or plain bread).
- Avoid fried, greasy, or sweet foods.
- Eat slowly and eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Do not mix hot and cold foods.
- Drink beverages slowly.
- Avoid activity after eating.
- Avoid brushing your teeth after eating.
- Choose foods from all the food groups as you can tolerate them to get adequate nutrition.
Treatment for vomiting (regardless of age or cause) includes:
- Drinking gradually larger amounts of clear liquids
- Avoiding solid food until the vomiting episode has passed
- Temporarily discontinuing all oral medications, which can irritate the stomach and make vomiting worse
If vomiting and diarrhea last more than 24 hours, an oral rehydrating solution should be used to prevent and treat dehydration.
Vomiting associated with surgery, radiation therapy, anticancer drugs, alcohol and morphine can often be treated with another type of drug therapy. There are also prescription and nonprescription drugs that can be used to control vomiting associated with pregnancy, motion sickness and vertigo. However, you should consult with your healthcare provider before using these treatments.
How can you prevent nausea?
Nausea can be prevented by:
- Eating small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals
- Eating slowly
- Avoiding hard-to-digest foods
- Consuming foods that are cold or at room temperature to avoid becoming nauseated from the smell of hot or warm foods
Resting after eating and keeping your head elevated about 12 inches above your feet helps reduce nausea.
If you feel nauseated when you wake up in the morning, eat some crackers before getting out of bed or eat a high protein snack (lean meat or cheese) before going to bed. Drink liquids between (instead of during) meals, and drink at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration. Try to eat when you feel less nauseated.
Once you feel nauseated, how do you prevent vomiting?
Vomiting can be prevented by consuming small amounts of clear, sweetened liquids such as soda pop, fruit juices (except orange and grapefruit because these are too acidic) and popsicles. Drinks containing sugar calm the stomach better than other liquids. Rest either in a sitting position or in a propped lying position. Activity may worsen nausea and may lead to vomiting.
For children, control persistent coughs and fever with over-the-counter medicines. To treat motion sickness in a car, seat your child so that he or she faces the front windshield (watching fast movement out the side windows can make the nausea worse).
Limit snacks, and do not serve sweet snacks with regular soda pop. Don’t let your kids eat and play at the same time. Encourage them to take a break during their snack time.
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Take a hot shower. Breathing in steam may moisten a scratchy throat and nose, as well as loosen your congestion. Although the research is mixed on whether this remedy works, there’s no harm in trying it. The heat can also help relax any aching muscles.
Take an over-the-counter remedy. You may find relief with one of these medications. Take them as directed, and don’t give them to children under age 6 without your pediatrician’s OK.
- Pain reliever for fever and aches. Doctors usually recommend acetaminophen. If you’re taking another cold medicine, though, check that it doesn’t already have the drug. It’s a common ingredient in many OTC remedies, but getting too much can be dangerous. So check the label and ask the pharmacist how much is safe to take at one time.
- Lozenges for a sore throat. They have herbs and other ingredients that can soothe the stinging.
- Decongestant for stuffiness. This medicine shrinks blood vessels in your nose so your airways can open up. But the liquid or pill form may make you feel jittery. Using decongestant sprays and drops too much can cause more congestion, so don’t use them for more than 3 days.
- Expectorant to thin mucus. It can help loosen some of that thick discharge.
- Antihistamine to dry up a runny nose. This drug blocks the chemical in your body that causes sneezes and sniffling.
Taking a decongestant and an antihistamine together may be more helpful than taking either one alone.
Use a saline spray or flush. Over-the-counter saltwater sprays make your nostrils moist, which makes it easier to blow your nose. You may also want to try nasal irrigation. That’s when you gently pour a saline solution into one nostril and let it flow out of the other. It washes away dried mucus so you can breathe easier. You can buy sinus rinses or use a bulb syringe or neti pot. If you do it yourself, always make the saltwater solution with distilled or cooled, boiled water.
Eat chicken soup. Mom was right: This sick-day staple really can make you feel better. Research shows that chicken soup can calm inflammation in your body. This may ease some of your symptoms, such as aches and stuffiness. What’s more, this meal also has liquid and calories to give your body energy.
Technology has given us a lot of amazing things: air conditioning, CRISPR, the Apple watch. Still, there’s one nagging problem that technology has yet to find the solution for: the common cold.
The best human scientists haven’t fared much better in finding the cure. Yet there are things you can do to help relieve symptoms of a cold—like a runny nose, scratchy throat, and headache—and feel much better.
To date, there is no cure for the common cold. But there are plenty of simple treatments and quick fixes out there that can help relieve symptoms and make you feel better overall. By applying these changes, you’ll be in a better position to heal naturally and recover quickly.
Use these tips to battle the cold and get back on your feet.
1) Have hot tea or chicken soup.
Or really, just have any hot liquid. There’s a reason people always tell you to drink tea or have chicken soup. “Hot liquids increase your mucociliary clearance rate,” explains Bruce Barrett, M.D., professor in the department of family medicine and community health at University of Wisconsin – Madison. You have little hairs (cilia) in your respiratory tract that help sweep mucus from the bottom of your lungs all the way up to the front of the nose, he explains. “Hot fluids increase that activity,” he says. “They actually measure it by putting a small amount of dye in the back of the throat and measuring how long it takes to go through the end of the nose.” Some research suggested chicken soup might do it better than other liquids. “I’m unconvinced,” says Dr. Barrett, although he says that if you like chicken soup and it makes you feel good, have it.
2) Gargle with salt water.
Gargling with salt water a few times a day during cold and flu season may help with swelling and loosening of the mucus. Mix and dissolve about one-half teaspoon of salt in warm water and gargle a few times a day.
3) Take a steamy shower.
The steam from a hot shower can moisten your sinus passages and throat as well as help loosen congestion. This also helps to relax your achy muscles.
4) Relieve stress; maybe even meditate.
“When you’re under stress, your immune system ends up under-reacting to viral and bacterial infections,” says Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, M.D., internist and past president of the American College of Physicians. Perhaps that’s why a study conducted by Dr. Barrett and colleagues, published in PLoS One found that mindfulness meditation training reduced the incidence, duration, and severity of their colds. That doesn’t mean you can meditate a cold away in just one sitting session—study participants had 8 weeks of training. But it does suggest that making meditation routine could help you avoid getting sick. The study also looked at exercise, by the way, and found that people who did regular exercise were also less likely to get colds.
5) Consider zinc.
Many people swear that zinc, usually in lozenge form like Cold-Eeze and Zicam, reduce a cold’s symptoms and severity, especially if you take them within the first day or two of your cold. “There’s no definite proof, but it looks like it probably does,” Dr. Barrett says.
6) Try echinacea.
The research on whether or not this herb can prevent onset of a cold or help you get over one faster goes back and forth. Dr. Barett didn’t find definitive evidence, either, but he did discover something interesting in his research. His group gave either placebos or echinacea to some people, and no pills to others. Then, they watched to see who got colds.People who had some positive experience with echinacea—they’d taken it before and thought it worked—and who received pills, had colds that were about 2.5 days shorter than people who didn’t get any pills. It didn’t matter whether the pill actually had echinacea in it or not. “There’s a very strong placebo effect with colds,” Dr. Barrett says. That means if you think echinacea (or another harmless remedy like chicken soup) works, go for it.
7) Consider OTCs
Colds famously come with headaches, and a simple pain reliever should help alleviate those. Antihistimines can work for colds, too, if you take older generation ones, like Benadryl. “They do reduce mucus secretion,” says Dr. Barrett. “And for a lot of people, they provide a little sedation.” Which can be welcome when you’re too stuffy to sleep and too exhausted not to want to. “I don’t really recommend them, but if people want to take them, it’s fine,” says Dr. Barrett. Just beware: the new, non-sedating antihistimines won’t work at all.
And please don’t ask for antibiotics. They don’t help with colds and have the potential to make antibiotic resistance worse for everyone. When you’re suffering, you want anything that can work, we know. Turn to Netflix. Beg someone to make you chicken soup. Anything. But just don’t go the antibiotics route.
8) Eat the right foods.
That’s always good advice. But there may be something to healthy foods’ ability to prevent a cold in the first place. “If a person has certain healthy habits, the immune system in general is stronger,” says Sharon Bergquist, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Emory University. “Gut bacterial balance is a key part of your immune system,” she says. So you want to feed your good bacteria what they like to eat; that’s the category of foods considered to be “prebiotics.” Like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. What they have in common is fiber. “All prebiotics are fiber, but not all fiber is prebiotics,” she says. But if you load up on the foods above, you’ll get the type of fiber your gut bacteria likes.
9) Get enough sleep.
Getting enough sleep is critical to keeping your immune system strong, which you will need to fight germs and ward off a cold faster. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who slept less than 7 hours a night were three times more susceptible to colds than those who slept 8 or more hours per night.
10) Wash your hands.
You’ve heard it before, because it works. Soap and water is perfectly fine; these dislodge and wash away germs. Hot water feels great, but if you’re in a place where there’s none around, don’t worry: research from Rutgers University found no difference in cleaning power when water was 60 (cold), 80 (warmish), or 100 degrees. But time does matter. The longer you scrub, the fewer the germs.
Marty Munson Marty Munson, currently the health director of Men’s Health, previously served as deputy editor at Dr Oz The Good Life and director of digital content at Shape.
‘How to get rid of a cold fast?’ is something we’re all asking around this time of year.
Why? The back-to-school bugs are upon us and Night Nurse is currently flying off the shelves. Yep, autumn has hit and cold and flu season has found its way to the UK, once again.
And, know this – common colds aren’t caused by a drop in temperature, but the spread of cold viruses. As such, it doesn’t really matter if we’re set for a freezing season ahead: you could still come down with a humdinger.
But how to tell if your runny nose, cough, sneezing and congestion symptoms are actually a common cold – as opposed to flu, or even hayfever? And, once you’ve identified it, how to get rid?
Scroll on for the WH guide to getting rid of a cold.
How to get rid of a cold, fast: your need-to-know
Cold vs Flu symptoms: What’s the difference?
First up, it’s key to know what you’re dealing with.
Both cold and flu are classed as respiratory illnesses, and they often have very similar signs…
5 common cold symptoms
- A runny or blocked nose
- Frequently sneezing
- Sore throat and/or coughing
5 common flu symptoms
- Fever, or a temperature of 38 degrees or higher
- Muscle aches, joint pain and tiredness
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea
- More acute versions of the above cold symptoms
There is some overlap, but NHS Choices states that the main differences between the two are that flu symptoms tend to come on very quickly and usually include a fever and aching muscles, whereas signs of cold will emerge gradually and mainly affect your nose and throat.
The Best Cold and Flu Medicines
Otrivine Adult Measured Dose Sinusitis Spray 10ml lloydspharmacy.com £4.19 Strepsils Sore Throat and Cough Lozenges – 24 Lozenges lloydspharmacy.com £4.29 Lemsip Max All In One Cold & Flu Capsules 16 Capsules lloydspharmacy.com £5.45 Vicks Mentholated Rub 50g lloydspharmacy.com £3.09
So, what’s the fastest way to get rid of a cold?
If you think you can clear a virus in a day, Dr Dan Robertson, medical officer at Push Doctor, has bad news for you.
‘Sadly, it’s not possible to get rid of a cold overnight – that’s not how colds work,’ he explains.
‘To recover, your body needs to stimulate an immune system response, kill the virus and repair itself. This takes time and there isn’t really any way to rush it.’
‘The best thing you can do is relieve the symptoms of a cold until the virus is out of your system,’ says Dr Robertson.
‘Nasal sprays, paracetamol and staying hydrated can all help.’
Boots Boots Pharmaceuticals Blocked Nose Relief Nasal Spray – 22 ml boots pharmaceuticals boots.com £2.99
Great. But how do I get rid of a blocked nose?
You know the feeling; it’s the early stages of a cold and you’re feeling pretty bunged up. Your head aches and how to get to sleep? No chance.
Don’t assume the only solution is dousing yourself in a tub of Vicks VapoRub – there are plenty of other things you can do to clear that nasal passage…
- Try taking a hot shower to temporarily relieve a stuffy nose, as the steam can help to drain away mucus.
- Apply a warm, wet flannel to the face to ease congestion – for an extra boost, add slices of fresh ginger to the water before soaking the facecloth.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is thought to help replace lots fluids (for example, from fever) and loosen mucus. Some people swear by adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the mix; we’ll let you try that one.
- Give yourself a facial massage to get things moving.
- Chew on some horseradish – when you’re super stuffy, anything’s worth a shot.
Lost Collapsible Water Bottle Lost asos.com £12.00
And as to how to get rid of a sore throat?
If your throat feels like it’s been rubbed with sandpaper and you’re eager for relief, choose your medication wisely.
‘You can pick up painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen from your local pharmacy – these usually work just as well as the more expensive products,’ Dr Robertson advises.
‘If your throat is really painful, ask for lozenges that contain flurbiprofen,’ continues Dr Robertson.
‘These will provide a local anti-inflammatory that can reduce pain within 10 minutes.’
Want a natural solution for infection? Western medical herbalist Marie Mulcahy, from Urban Based Herbalist recommends mixing the following ingredients…
- Two teaspoons of dried sage leaves
- 200ml of boiling water
- Small sliced cayenne pepper or a pinch of dried chilli powder
- Two tablespoons of good quality honey (raw or Manuka is best as it has the most antibacterial, anti-viral properties)
- Pinch of sea salt
- A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar; organic is key
Stir the sage and cayenne or chilli powder in a jug and pour over the water. Leave to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes, then add the salt, honey and vinegar, and stir well.
Gargle this three times a day, or put it, cold, into a small spray bottle that you can spray on the back of your throat as needed.
6 home remedies for cold and flu
1/ Stock up on soups
Chicken, particularly, as this has been shown to contain substances with anti-inflammatory properties that can get rid of a cold fast.
A study, published in the journal Chest, found that ‘Grandma’s Soup’ (yes, that was the recipe they tested), which contained chicken, onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, and parsley, with the addition of salt and pepper, reaped the greatest rewards.
Veggie? Try chomping on antibacterial garlic cloves instead. The good news is, recent research has stated they’re in fact best eaten cooked – not raw. Crush them first, then sauté or lightly bake them, for maximal benefits.
2/ Take a hot bath
A steamy bath or shower will ease nasal congestion and help to relax your body. Adding a few drops of peppermint oil will open your airways to help with a stuffy head.
3/ Eat raw honey
New health guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) state that a spoonful of raw honey should be your first port of call when battling a cold head on – thanks to its antibacterial benefits.
Add to a cup of hot water with lemon and enjoy daily.
Raw Health Maya Honey (350g) health planetorganic.com £5.45
4/ Pop a probiotic
A study by The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found that people who take a probiotic experience colds that are two days shorter in duration, have symptoms that are 34% less severe, and need to take fewer days off, than people who don’t supplement.
Planet Organic Symprove Live and Activated Bacteria (500 ml) planetorganic.com £24.99
5/ Dose up on vitamin C
It’s a cliche but yes, stocking up on citrus fruits really can help get rid of a cold fast.
Taking 8g of vitamin C daily can shorten a cold by 19%, according to research from the University of Helsinki.
6/ Take a foot bath
If you would prefer alternative or natural ways to ease your symptoms, Mulcahy suggests a tisane foot bath.
‘Dunk your feet in a strong infusion of herbs,’ she suggests. You can use either fresh or dried herbs – if fresh leaf, use three teaspoons; if dried, use two teaspoons of the following…
- Crushed garlic
- Thyme and rosemary
‘Make a strong infusion by pouring boiling water over the herbs,’ Mulcahy adds.
‘Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes with a cover on top, as this will bring all the essential oils and the active plant ingredients out of the herbs.
‘When cool enough to put your feet in, pour into a bowl with the tisane and steep your feet for 10 to 15 mins. Do three times a day.’
She also recommends using the above mixture as a drinkable herbal tea, which you can consume throughout the day.
Should I exercise with a cold?
The million dollar question. And one that often yields conflicting answers. Dr Robertson wants you to know that while a common cold might be draining, it doesn’t have to mean your training regime need take a hit.
‘Keeping your exercise programme going is important, but it’s even more important not to push yourself too hard, as this can potentially make symptoms worse and delay your recovery,’ he says.
‘You might have to scale down your usual routine and stick to gentle exercise that ensures you don’t get too out of breath.’
So what are your options?
‘If you’re worried that you’re not well enough, you should discuss this with a GP,’ he adds.
‘Generally speaking though, if you’re well enough to go to work, you’re well enough do some gentle exercise.
‘Stick to gentle activities that you can take at your own pace such as swimming.’
And how do I prevent a cold, in the first place?
If you manage to navigate winter without getting a cold, it’s not just commendable –it’s a miracle.
However, there are things that you can do all year round to make sure that if common colds do come your way, your body is prepared, making the whole process of how to get rid of a cold fast that little bit more bearable.
Government guidelines advise that you meet your 10mg vitamin D target throughout the year.
Whether you opt for supplements or top up your levels through natural sources such as mushrooms (store yours on a sunny windowsill to ramp up their levels of the nutrient), ensuring you get enough will make you less likely to catch common colds when the winter months roll around.
Equally, filling your body with nutrient-dense foods and quality calories (think fresh fruits and vegetables) will support your immune system, and prioritising sleep will ensure your body is at full capacity when fighting off viruses.
The last, extra measure is to make sure you wash your hands regularly and carry a sanitiser to keep the germs at bay.
And one final piece of advice from Dr Robertson?
‘From a medical perspective, antibiotics will never work for a cold, as it’s caused by a virus, not bacteria,’ he says.
So give your GP a break on this one, familiarise yourself with the stages of a cold, and move on.
While you’re here, find out how having sex may stop you catching a cold. Never say we don’t treat you to the good stuff.Getting rid of cold