Having a cold can be miserable, but during cold season, it’s pretty hard to avoid getting sick. So, what are your options if you do catch a cold? Is it possible to actually shorten a cold? While there’s conflicting evidence on this, we’ll look at a few ways you can recover quicker. Ultimately, these suggestions will help you feel better and get out of bed quicker, so you can get back to your life. A cold doesn’t have to floor you for a week or two!
Do Any of These Methods Work?
We touched on this earlier, so we’ll jump right into the big question. Is there a way to end a cold if you have it? Currently, there is no cure for a cold, and that likely isn’t changing any time soon. There are some home remedies that purport to shorten a cold. One 2013 study found that taking a small amount of Vitamin C could shorten a cold slightly and weaken your symptoms. This has been disputed by other studies. The same goes for zinc, which has been promoted as a possible treatment to shorten a cold but may not be as effective as some studies found.
Does this mean that your only choice when you get a cold is to wait it out? Nope! There are choices you can make that’ll help you recover from a cold faster. While you still may experience symptoms for the duration a cold, these suggestions may help you weaken them or help your body fight the cold!
When you’re sick, resting is one of the most important things you can do for your body. Sleep is essential to many functions of our body, and a lack of sleep can cripple our immune system. In turn, this weakens your body’s response to a cold, causing more severe symptoms and a longer sickness. Alternatively, getting a good night’s sleep helps you to recover faster. Sleep may even help trigger your immune system when you’re sick, promoting an even stronger response.
When our bodies are fighting a cold, we need all the energy at our disposal. This is another way that sleep helps us during a cold. Not only does sleep help our bodies recover and restore, it conserves energy that can then be expended by your immune system. When you’re sick, give your body the rest it needs. If you feel tired, take a break and sleep. If you’re not sleepy, just relax. You’re sick, and pushing yourself to act like you’re not may only extend the cold.
The other major action you can take when you have a cold is to hydrate. Dehydration is common when you’re sick, especially if you have a fever. You may not realize how many symptoms drain fluid out of your system — from runny noses to sweating. Your metabolism also increases to help you fight the cold, using more fluid. Hydration can also be important in symptom-relief. If you’re drinking enough fluids, you’re less likely to become congested, loosening what’s causing the symptom and aiding in relief. This is even more true for warm or hot liquids than cold liquids (it’s one reason why chicken soup is actually good for a cold!).
So, making sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids when you’re sick has a multitude of benefits for you. Not only can it help reduce symptoms, you have a double concern of a sickness draining you of hydration and an immune response that equally needs that hydration. You also have to consider the importance hydration may have to your immune system functioning. Just make sure you’re drinking fluids that hydrate, so skip caffeine and alcohol (both which dehydrate you). Don’t overdo it on the hydration, however. It’s possible to drink too much. Instead, focus on drinking a little extra than you otherwise would, and more if you feel thirsty.
If you’re resting and hydrating, there’s not much else you can do that’s routinely supported to help you during a cold. The only other step you should take while you’re recovering is to make your wait as pleasant as possible. In other words, you’ll want to find relief for the symptoms of your cold. Among the most common symptoms of a cold, many can be handled with over-the-counter medications. This includes the aches, congestion, and the fevers, to name a few.
There are plenty of non-medication options, as well. Keeping moisture in the air through a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer can help with congestion. Throat lozenges, along with many of at-homes sore throat remedies, can help soothe a sore throat, too.
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It’s never fun to be sick, even a fairly mild illness like a cold. It’s even tempting to try out products that promise to cure your cold that day. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Beyond these over-the-counter symptom-relief medications, these simple solutions are your best options for recovering as quickly as possible from the cold that ails you. Just remember to rest, hydrate, and relax while you handle the symptoms, and you’ll be back on your feet before you know it.