First come sniffling and sneezing. Then a sore throat. Soon, there’s no denying it — you’ve come down with a cold.
While there is no cure for the common cold, there are steps you take to shorten the time you’re sick.
Here are six ways to find relief from cold symptoms and feel better fast.
1. Use Vaporub™.
Resting is essential when you’re sick. Your body needs time to heal and fight the infection. You can supercharge the process by applying Vaporub to your chest, which has been shown to improve cold symptoms within two nights.
2. Gargle with saltwater.
In studies, people who gargled with saltwater three times a day had fewer respiratory symptoms compared to those who didn’t. Gargling with a mixture of one teaspoon of salt and a cup of warm water can ease a sore throat.
3. Go for garlic.
Garlic is known for helping the body fight off germs. Eating garlic can also shorten the time you’re sick by 70%. For maximum immune-boosting benefit, crush or slice the garlic before you eat it, and use more than one clove per meal.
4. Supplement smartly.
Zinc has been shown to shorten the severity and duration of cold symptoms by up to 33% if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. Vitamin C, vitamin D and echinacea also provide extra immune support.
5. Sip chicken soup.
It turns out that there’s scientific evidence for this age-old cold remedy. Chicken soup helps relieve inflammation, clear nasal passages and thin mucus. Add ginger to chicken broth to fight pain and nausea.
6. Skip the nasal spray.
Although it can bring immediate relief, using a nasal spray for more than two or three days can cause rebound congestion, where you become significantly more congested for one to three days after you stop using it. Before you resort to a nasal spray, try hot showers, a vaporizer and over-the-counter oral decongestants. If you end up needing to use a nasal spray, use it sparingly.
Is it the common cold — or a more serious illness?
There may be times when your symptoms become severe, which can be a sign of a more serious illness. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, these symptoms include the following:
- Your symptoms come on abruptly or last more than 10 days.
- You have a high, prolonged fever (above 102 F) with fatigue and body aches.
- You have swelling in the glands in your neck or jaw.
- You faint or feel like you’re going to lose consciousness.
- You have trouble breathing, or your cough sounds like a wheeze.
- You have chest pain.
These could be signs of the flu, pneumonia or another serious condition. See your doctor for a proper diagnosis.