There’s only one guaranteed cure for the common cold and that’s time, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit idly by and bear the symptoms while you wait for the cold to go away. You can take action to reduce your suffering in the days you are under the weather, and perhaps hasten the departure of the virus by putting your body in the best possible position to eliminate it.
For all the advice you need on how to get rid of a cold as quickly as possible, here’s pharmacist Marvin Munzu, who’s also an ambassador for menthol sweet maker Jakemans.
How long does a cold last?
Colds are caused by viruses and symptoms usually last between one to two weeks. In some cases, they can last longer but generally they resolve within a week.
What are the stages of a cold?
Cold symptoms can be different for everyone, but they typically appear about one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus, peak around day four, and taper off around day seven. From day one to two most people start feeling tired and sneezing, begin to develop a cough and a runny nose, and become congested. By day six or seven, most of these symptoms start to recede as most people start feeling better, but this may go on for longer for certain vulnerable people such as elderly people or those with a compromised immune system.
What can you do to get rid of a cold more quickly?
The main cold symptoms are a blocked nose, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, coughs, sneezing and a raised temperature. You can buy a number of over-the-counter medications to help with these symptoms and in most cases a sore throat can be soothed with a throat sweet. The quickest way to get rid of a cold is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, fruit juices or squash mixed with water. Getting plenty of rest and staying warm will also help, along with a balanced diet and light exercise to boost the immune system. Vitamin C has also been shown to be beneficial in fighting colds.
Can you make your body more resistant to getting a cold or better at fighting it off?
Keeping your immune system on form will always be important in both helping the body fight off cold viruses and increasing the body’s resistance to them in the first place. The main way to do this is through lifestyle changes such as eating more healthy food and maintaining a balanced diet, as well as regular exercise and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. Prioritising sleep and rest is also important.
Is there any scientific backing to popular home cold remedies?
Oregano oil has been used traditionally as a decongestant and remedy for sore throats. Scientific studies have shown that oregano oil has antiviral and antibacterial properties that directly inhibit cold and flu bugs. It contains vitamins A and C which support respiratory health and boost immunity, and it also contains essential minerals such a calcium, potassium, zinc, iron and magnesium, which are all effective in fighting colds and flu. Oregano oil can be taken as capsules or through drops added to a steam bath and inhaled.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.