How to Get Rid of a Cold: 6 Tips for a Quicker Recovery

To get rid of a cold quickly, it is important to stay home and rest, to drink at least 2 L of water per day, and maintain a light, easy-to-digest diet. Very intense colds may require medications to treat symptoms like fever and a sore throat.

Generally, colds are more common in babies, children and patients with a weakened immune system. It usually takes about 1 week to fully recovery from a cold. 

Colds can be easily treated at home, although if symptoms worsen or if you have a high-grade fever (over 38.5ºC or 101.3ºF) for more than 3 days, you should see a doctor for assessment and possible treatment. 

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Cold recovery tips

Some tips for treating a cold at home include: 

1. Stay home to rest 

It is very important to rest when fighting a cold. You should avoid heavy physical activity and conserve your energy for treating the virus. Staying at home also helps to reduce transmission to other people. 

Also recommended: Cold vs Flu: Main Differences, How to Treat & Home Remedies

2. Perform hand hygiene

It is important to regularly wash your hands, as viruses are often transmitted through direct contact with the hands. Therefore, hand hygiene is very important to prevent transmission to other people, but also to prevent picking up new viruses while your body is vulnerable and your immune system is weakened. You should wash your hands especially after sneezing, coughing and using the bathroom. 

3. Stay in a well-ventilated area

Viruses can circulate more easily in a closed environment, therefore it is important to ensure you are recovering in a well-ventilated area. You can open the windows during the day to promote air circulation. 

4. Drink plenty of fluids

To prevent dehydration from fevers, you should drink at least 2 L of water or electrolyte solutions per day. You can drink these in small sips throughout the day. Tea is another great option to ensure adequate hydration, especially ginger tea and unsweetened peach tea. Check out other teas for colds and flu that you can make to relieve symptoms and help you feel better vaster. 

5. Eat light meals

Meals should be light and easy to digest to avoid nausea and general malaise. You should opt for boiled or grilled food, as well as broths, fruits (like baked apples or bananas), vegetables (like boiled squash or carrots) and white meats. 

Also recommended: Natural Cold Remedies: 7 Teas for Cold & Flu Recovery

6. Using medications

When treating a respiratory virus, it may be necessary to use medication to relieve symptoms more quickly. Medications should be taken as prescribed by a doctor. The ones used can vary depending on the cold symptoms your present with. The most commonly prescribed medications for a cold or flu include:

  • Medications to combat pain and fever: you can take analgesics and antipyretics, like acetaminophen, every 6 hours to reduce headache, body pain and fever;
  • Medications to combat nausea and vomiting: to stop these symptoms, you can take an antiemetic, like metoclopramide, 15 to 30 minutes before eating. This dose can be repeated every 8 hours;
  • Medications to combat diarrhea: in these cases, you can take an antidiarrheal medication, such as racecadotril, 3 times a day, after main meals.

Antibiotic use is not recommended for the treatment of the cold or flu, as they are not effective against viruses. You should see a doctor for assessment to determine the best treatment plan based on your presentation.

In addition to these medications, you can boost your immunity using supplements with zinc and vitamin C. They can promote your immune system to combat viral infections to recovery more quickly

Learn more about the difference between about a cold and a flu.

Cold treatment for kids

Treating a cold in babies in children is very similar to treating a cold in an adult. It is important to consult a pediatrician however if symptoms are moderate to intense. Kids presenting with cold symptoms should generally stay at home to rest to prevent worsening and transmission to other children. Parents should also: 

  • Measure temperature every 2 hours and whenever necessary, and medicate for high temperatures as directed by a doctor
  • Encourage the child to drink water or tea every 30 minutes. In babies, it is essential to breastfeed at least every 2 hours. Read about the signs of dehydration in children.
  • Provide small amounts of food at a time. Food should be cooked, and can include chicken broth, cooked rice and chicken, and baked apples or bananas. 
  • Wash the child’s hands at least 3 times per day. 

These measures can generally improve symptoms and speed-up cold recovery.