How to Cure a Cold Fast

Four Methods:Curing Your Cold FastDecongesting Your SinusesGiving Your Body a BreakTreating Your Other Symptoms

Although it's not a very serious virus, the common cold can make you feel miserable. The key to curing a cold fast is early detection. If you think you've contracted a cold, you need to take precautionary measures immediately. Increase your vitamins. Soothe your throat. Clear your nasal passages. These measures will strengthen your body's ability to fight off the cold and hopefully reduce its duration. Beyond these measures, just rest and relax as much as you can. Do not try to get antibiotics, as a cold is caused by a virus, not bacteria, and antibiotics will be no help.

Method 1
Curing Your Cold Fast

  1. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 1
    Detect your cold quickly. Symptoms begin almost immediately after you’ve contracted the virus. Signs of the common cold include runny nose, sore throat, cough, congestion, slight body ache, mild temperature, and mild fatigue.[1] If you want to have a chance of curing your cold fast, you need to act fast. After the first 12 hours of your cold, it will have spread enough to last for days. You must fortify your body’s defenses.
  2. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 2
    Take a cough suppressant. Use a cough suppressant only if you have a dry cough. Cough suppressants include dextromethorphan and codeine. However, you may need a prescription for codeine. Side-effects can include drowsiness and constipation. Dextromethorphan is available as a tablet or syrup and can come in combination with an expectorant.[2] If you have a 'chesty' cough and are coughing up any mucus, do not take a cough suppressant, as this could increase the chances of developing a chest infection. Instead, ask the pharmacist for an 'expectorant' cough syrup.
  3. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 3
    Take a decongestant. Nasal decongestants — either liquid or pill form — help shrink blood vessels in the nasal membranes and allow the nasal passages to open up. Phenylephrine (like Sudafed PE) and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) are two over-the-counter decongestants proven to help with colds.
    • You can also get decongestants as a nasal spray over-the-counter. All it takes is one or two quick squirts and you’ll start feeling some relief. Nasal sprays contain oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, xylometazoline, or naphazoline. Use only as directed. Using it more than 3-5 times a day can actually increase that stuffy feeling.[3]
    • Side effects of decongestants include insomnia (sleeping problems), dizziness, and increased blood pressure. Do not use oral decongestants if you have heart issues or hypertension. Use under a doctor’s direction if you have diabetes, thyroid problems, glaucoma, or prostate issues.[4]
  4. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 4
    Take an expectorant. An expectorant is a form of over-the-counter medication which clears the sinuses by thinning mucus and loosening phlegm that may have settled in your lungs. This will allow you to breathe easier and leave you more comfortable.
    • Expectorants are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. They are usually taken in liquid form, but they can also be found as tablets and powders. Currently, the only over-the-counter expectorant available is guaifenesin. Look for this active ingredient when searching for medications. Mucinex is the most common brand name guaifenesin-containing medicine sold in pharmacies.[5]
    • Be aware that expectorants, like all medications, may have side-effects. Those most commonly associated with this form of medication include nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop taking the expectorant immediately.[6]
  5. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 5
    Increase your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C has long been touted for its cold-preventing properties, but did you know it can also help to shorten the duration of a cold?[7]
    • Up your intake by drinking orange juice and eating foods like strawberries, kiwis and leafy green vegetables, which have a high vitamin C content.
    • You can also take a vitamin C supplement, available in tablet form in drug and health food stores. The recommended dosage is 90 mg a day for men and 75 mg a day for women, according to the National Institutes of Health.[8]
  6. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 6
    Go see a doctor. Your body has the capabilities to fight off most colds, but a doctor can provide prescription assistance to relieve symptoms. However, do not ask your doctor for antibiotics for a cold, they will not improve your symptoms or the duration of your cold.
    • If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, then you should contact your doctor immediately:
    • Earache/loss of hearing
    • Fever above 103 degrees
    • Fever above 101 that lasts for more than 3 days
    • Shortness of breath/wheezing
    • Bloody mucus
    • General symptoms that last more than 7 to 10 days[9]
    • Sore throat with a fever, but no cough and no runny nose. This may indicate strep throat, which should immediately be treated with antibiotics to prevent heart complications.
    • Cough with a fever, but no runny nose and no sore throat. These symptoms may indicate pneumonia and should also be treated with antibiotics.

Method 2
Decongesting Your Sinuses

  1. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 11
    Blow your nose correctly. It's natural to want to blow your nose when you're feeling stuffed up, but just be careful not to overdo it. While blowing your nose can indeed help to clear the nasal passages of excess mucus, blowing too hard or too frequently can actually have adverse effects.[10]
    • In fact, some experts suggest that blowing your nose can lead to a build up of pressure due to trapped mucus, which causes further damage to your nasal passage.[11] You can avoid this by blowing only when absolutely necessary, and by using the correct blowing method.
    • The correct blowing method involves closing one nostril with your finger, then blowing very gently to clear the other one. The same process is then repeated on the other side. Make sure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap after you blow, to avoid spreading the cold virus.[12]
    • Prevent your nose from becoming irritated due excessive nose blowing by using soft cotton handkerchiefs and by using a little petroleum jelly to moisturize and lubricate the nostrils.[13]
  2. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 12
    Try using a sinus or saline irrigation container to clear your nasal passages. Any kind of bottle or container with a thin spout can be used with a saline solution to thin and flush mucus from the nasal passages.
    • Make your own saline solution by mixing half a teaspoon of kosher salt into a cup of water.
    • Fill the container with the saline solution, tilt your head to one side (over a sink), and insert the spout into one nostril and pour. The solution should flow in one nostril before coming out the other. When the water stops dripping, blow your nose gently, then repeat the process on the opposite side[14]
  3. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 13
    Use steam treatments. Steam can be really useful when it comes to clearing your head. The heat of the steam loosens mucus while the moisture from the water helps to relieve dry nasal passages.[15] Use steam in one of the following ways:[16]
    • Give yourself a steam facial by boiling a pot of water. Pour that water into a separate bowl and then place your face over the steaming water. Hold a towel over your head to keep the steam in. Add a couple of drops of a sinus-clearing essential oil (such as tea tree or peppermint) to maximize the sinus-clearing benefits.
  4. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 14
    Take a hot shower. Yes, even if you're feeling under the weather, you shouldn't skip your daily shower as it can actually help to clear a cold faster. Heat the water to a high, yet comfortable temperature and let the bathroom steam up as much as possible. If the heat leaves you feeling a little weak or dizzy, consider bringing a plastic chair or stool into the shower with you.
    • A hot, steamy bath can work wonders for you when you have a cold - not just in terms of decongestion, but also in terms of relaxation and heat. Again, try to make the water as hot as possible. If you decide to wash your hair (either in the bath or shower) remember to dry your hair thoroughly afterwards, as damp hair can cause you to lose body heat, which is not good for a cold.
  5. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 15
    Drink hot fluids. There's nothing more comforting than a hot drink when you're suffering from a nasty cold. But beyond the comfort factor, a hot drink can actually help to clear your nasal passages and soothe a sore throat, making it the perfect cold-busting remedy.
    • Herbal teas, such as chamomile and peppermint, are a good option, as they are soothing and hydrating. Regular tea and coffee can help to perk you up if you're feeling groggy, but are not as good for hydration.
    • One traditional cold remedy which still packs a punch is a simple drink made from warm water, lemon, and honey. The warm water clears congestion. The lemon boosts the immune system and the honey soothes a sore throat. Simply add a slice of fresh lemon to a cup of warm water and add honey to taste.[17]
    • Chicken soup has long been the chosen sustenance of cold patients and not just because it's comforting and easy to eat. There is actually scientific evidence to back up the idea that chicken soup limits the production of certain white blood cells which contribute to cold symptoms.[18]

Method 3
Giving Your Body a Break

  1. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 7
    Take some time off. One surefire way to make your cold drag on and on - for days or even weeks - is to continue with your normal routine and not give your body time to recuperate. The best way to get over a cold quickly is just to take a few days off, hold up somewhere warm and cozy, and give your body a break.
    • Even if you're reluctant to take time off work, just think of your co-workers - they don't want you spreading your germs around the office! You're doing them a favor by staying home.
    • Aside from that, the common cold is a virus which attacks and weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to contracting other illnesses or your cold becoming worse. Therefore, staying in your home environment is the safest option, at least until you start to feel well again.
  2. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 8
    Get plenty of rest. Try to remember that your body is doing its best to fight off the cold virus and it needs all the energy it can get in order to win. Over-exerting yourself with housework, exercise, traveling, or other physical activities will just prolong the cold and make you feel worse. Ensure that you are getting at least eight hours of sleep a night and take frequent naps during the day.[19]
    • Even if you can't sleep, try curling up on the couch with a warm blanket and a hot drink , Use this time as an excuse to binge on multiple re-runs of Friends or read the entire Harry Potter series.
    • When sleeping, try to prop your head up on an extra pillow. It may feel a little strange if you're not used to it, but the raised angle will aid in the draining of your nasal passages. If it really feels uncomfortable, try placing the extra pillow beneath the bottom sheet or under the mattress on your bed, for a less severe angle.[20]
  3. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 9
    Stay warm. What's the opposite of cold? Warmth! (Well, sort of). Even though cold weather or "catching a chill" doesn't actually cause a cold (the cold virus does), staying warm during the recovery process will help. So turn up the thermostat, light a roaring fire and pile on the blankets -- you'll feel much better soon.
    • Despite the benefits of heat, dry heat can actually irritate inflamed nasal passages and sore throats. You can combat this by using a humidifier to add moisture back into the air. This can help to make breathing more comfortable.
    • Just be aware that humidifiers can spread pathogens and molds.[21]
  4. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 10
    Drink lots of fluids. All that nose blowing and sweating it out under heavy blankets can leave you feeling dehydrated, which can worsen cold symptoms, leading to headaches and dry, irritated throats.
    • Try to drink slightly more than average when you're sick - whether the fluids come in the form of hots teas, soups, water-heavy fruit and veg (watermelon, tomato, cucumber, pineapple), or just plain water.
    • A handy way to check for dehydration is to examine your urine. If it's very pale yellow or almost clear, you're doing okay. But if it's dark yellow, this means that there are higher concentrations of waste in your body that are not being diluted, which is a sign that you should drink more water.

Method 4
Treating Your Other Symptoms

  1. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 16
    Take a pain reliever/fever reducer. If you have aches or a high temperature, your main two choices are acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen). Avoid taking NSAIDs, if you have acid reflux or peptic ulcer disease. If you are already taking a NSAID for other issues, talk to your doctor before taking more. Do not take more than the prescribed amount, as indicated on the bottle. Too much of either medicine can lead to liver toxicity. You don't want to develop a worse condition while trying to fight off another.[22]
  2. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 17
    Gargle salt water to ease your sore throat. Congestion isn't the only nasty symptom you have to contend with during a cold - dry, itchy, or sore throats can be equally bothersome. An easy, natural way to deal with this is to gargle a salt solution. The water hydrates the throat, while the antiseptic properties in the salt help to fight infection. Make the solution by dissolving a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. If the taste is too unpleasant for your liking, add a little baking soda to take the edge off the saltiness. Gargle this solution up to four times a day. Do not swallow. [23]
  3. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 18
    Take elderberry syrup. Elderberries are said to be a great natural immune booster, and are therefore very popular as a natural cold remedy. Elderberry contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and may help prevent damage to the body’s cells. However, very few studies have been done in humans, so researchers don't know how effective elder may be. You can use elderberries in a number of ways:[24]
    • Taking a spoonful of elderberry syrup every morning. This syrup can be found in most health food stores.
    • By adding a couple of drops of elderberry extract (also found in health food stores) to a glass of water or juice.
    • Or by drinking elderberry tea - a hot beverage with elder flowers and peppermint leaves.
  4. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 19
    Eat a spoon of raw honey. Raw honey is an effective natural immune booster, which also contains anti-viral properties and soothes sore throats making it a primary ingredient in many natural cold remedies.[25]
    • You can eat a spoonful of the raw honey by itself or stir it into warm water or tea. Another great cure for a cold is to have a glass of milk mixed with a spoonful of turmeric powder, then chase it down quickly with a spoonful of honey. Try to source raw honey from your local area, as it will help your body to develop a tolerance for allergens native to your region. [26]
  5. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 20
    Eat garlic. Garlic boasts an impressive array of health benefits, thanks to its antimicrobial, antiviral and antibiotic properties. There is some evidence to suggest that raw garlic can help to relieve cold symptoms, shorten a colds duration and boost the immune system, thus preventing future cold.[27]
    • Garlic can be taken in supplement form, but for the most effective results, it is best taken raw. Crush up a clove of garlic and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. This allows a compound known as allicin to develop - a potent anti-bacterial agent which gives garlic most of its health benefits.
    • The garlic can be eaten on its own (if you have a strong stomach) or mixed with a little honey or olive oil and spread on a cracker.[28]
  6. Image titled Cure a Cold Fast Step 21
    Take natural supplements. There are certain natural supplements which are believed to help with cold symptoms. While they won't necessarily cure the cold or stop it in its tracks, they can help it to go away faster. For example:
    • Echinacea is an herbal supplement which is believed to contain anti-viral properties, aiding in the treatment of respiratory infections. When taken in tablet form it is said to reduce the span of a cold, if taken as soon as the first symptoms appear.[29]
    • Zinc is another natural substance which scientific research has shown to shorten the duration of colds by preventing the virus from reproducing. It can be taken in tablet, lozenge or syrup form.[30]
    • Ginseng is an ancient cold remedy which is scientifically proven to help shorten the duration of colds, while also reinforcing the immune system. It can be taken in supplement form, or the root can be boiled in water to make tea.[31]

Things You'll Need

  • Tissues
  • Medicine
  • Shower
  • Bed
  • Hot drinks
  • Movies and books (or something to do without being physical)

Sources and Citations


Show more... (28)

Article Info

Categories: Colds and Viruses