Rest, drinking fluids, and medicines can help you recover from a cold. Other remedies, such as vitamin C, zinc, and probiotic drinks, may also help relieve symptoms earlier.
There’s no cure yet for the common cold, but you may be able to shorten the amount of time you’re sick by trying some promising supplements and practicing good self-care.
Stroll the aisles of any drugstore, and you’ll see an impressive range of products claiming to shorten the length of your cold. Few of them are backed by solid science. Here’s a list of remedies known to make a difference in how long colds last:
Taking a vitamin C supplement isn’t likely to prevent a cold. However, studies show that it may reduce the duration of colds and make them less severe. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that you must take about
Doses on the upper limit (2000 mg) can cause some side effects, so taking higher doses for any duration comes with this risk.
You can also get vitamin C through food.
Here’s the key: Don’t wait until you feel the symptoms coming on: Take the recommended dose every day. Taking vitamin C when a cold starts may not have much effect on how you feel or how long the cold hangs on.
Close to three decades of research on colds and zinc have yielded mixed results, but a
You can start taking these lozenges when you first develop symptoms.
It’s important to note that the dosages in these studies, 80 to 92 mg daily, are much higher than the daily maximum recommended by the NIH. The 2017 review points out that doses of up to 150 mg of zinc per day are routinely taken for months by people with certain conditions with few side effects.
If you’re taking antibiotics, penicillamine (Cuprimine) for arthritis, or certain diuretics, talk with a doctor before taking zinc. The combination could reduce the effectiveness of your medications or the zinc.
Some people who take echinacea report unwanted side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea. Consider talking with a doctor before trying echinacea to confirm it won’t interfere with any other medicines or supplements you’re taking.
Black elderberry is a traditional remedy used to fight colds in many parts of the world.
Although research is limited, a 2016 placebo-controlled, double-blind
Elderberry syrup is cooked and concentrated. Do not confuse it with raw elderberries, seeds, and bark, which can be toxic.
Because beetroot juice is high in dietary nitrate, it increases the body’s production of nitric oxide, which may help protect you against respiratory infections.
If you’re prone to kidney stones, watch out for beetroot, which contains oxalates. These are known to contribute to kidney stone formation.
If you’re looking to start meditating, a guided meditation app may help start your process.
Your gut health can affect your immune system. One 2021 placebo-controlled
Probiotic bacteria vary from product to product, so check the label to know which one you’re buying.
You can use devices that include:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a
- distilled or sterile water
- tap water that has been boiled and cooled
- water filtered with a specific filter
You can find instructions on how to use a Neti Pot safely.
While it can be tempting to try and boost your immune system with exercise, it’s probably best to take it easy for a few days. In fact, if you don’t get enough sleep day to day, you may be
Honey contains compounds that
If you or your child is having trouble getting good sleep to beat a cold, try honey, one of the most relied-on remedies for treating cold symptoms. A
Do not give honey to children under 12 months of age, as it can cause botulism.
OTC cold medications may help relieve symptoms. These can include:
- pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- cough suppressants
You should talk with a pediatrician before giving a child any OTC medication.
Drinking plenty of fluids is always beneficial when you’re trying to get rid of a cold. Not only do they keep you hydrated but they can also loosen congestion in your chest and nasal passages so you can breathe. Options can include:
- hot herbal tea
- chicken soup
Doctors typically recommend avoiding caffeine and alcohol because they can leave you dehydrated and may interfere with the sleep and rest you need for recovery.
When to get help
Colds don’t typically cause severe symptoms in people without healthy immune systems. But they may have similar symptoms to influenza, which can result in complications. Some people may develop other conditions, such as ear infections and sinus infections.
You may need medical care if:
- your symptoms last longer than 10 days
- you have a fever over 101.3°F (38.5°C)
- you begin vomiting violently
- your sinuses ache
- your cough begins to sound like a wheeze
- you feel pain in your chest
- you have trouble breathing
Unfortunately, there is still no known cure for the common cold. However, you can reduce the duration of your illness by taking some promising vitamins and supplements, as well as engaging in good self-care. This includes vitamin C, Zinc, echinacea, and probiotics.
There are actually three stages of the common cold. They are:
- first 1-3 days, also called prodrome
- days 4-7, also called active or peak
- days 8-10, also called end or late
Learn more about contagiousness and symptoms at each stage of the common cold.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to speed up how long it takes a cold to go away, though some vitamins or supplements might help. How long you have active symptoms depends on the specific virus, the health of your immune system, and your overall health. Different colds can be long or short even in the same person.
At the first sign of a cold, most of us want to make sure the sniffles and other symptoms go away as quickly as possible.
If you take vitamin C regularly, your cold symptoms may disappear earlier, and there is some scientific support for trying other natural remedies.
The best way to beat a cold fast is to rest, drink lots of fluids, and treat the symptoms with OTC medications.