While there’s still no real cure for the common cold, here’s what you can do to help ease your symptoms—and shorten the time you’re sick.
Sure, your work and your family are important, and you don’t have time to lie in bed. But when you feel a cold coming on, try to give yourself a break for at least the first few days. Your body needs that time to heal. And rest is one of the most beneficial things you can do to recover from a cold quickly. Think of it as being kind to your work or school colleagues as well; research shows that the first few days of a cold (and a day or two earlier, before you even know you’re sick) is when you’re most contagious.
“Rest is absolutely a good treatment, and I would encourage people not to go outside—at least not in crowded areas where you could transmit the virus to others,” says Michael Incze, MD, a resident physician in internal medicine at University of California, San Francisco. How fast can cold viruses spread? One study found that a virus placed on a single doorknob in an office could contaminate the entire building within hours.
You lose a lot of liquid from congestion, sneezing, and constantly blowing your nose; replacing those fluids will help you feel better faster. Water and juice are fine, but warm liquids are especially comforting and might help ease congestion by increasing mucus flow. Try salty broths and liquids like chicken soup to replace electrolytes, herbal teas, or just hot water with lemon. There are studies that show chicken soup really does help get rid of a cold fast.”I do recommend hot liquids. But use common sense,” says Cat Livingston, MD, a family physician with Oregon Health Sciences University. “There have been a couple of reports that people were so aggressive with fluids it actually caused harm.” Try this south-of-the-border chicken tortilla soup for a new take on the classic chicken noodle broth.