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

Updated in November 2022

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. 

Imagem ilustrativa número 2

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. 

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. 

6. Take medication

Cold and flu medication may be necessary to manage more intense symptoms at home. These can be used as prescribed or purchased over-the-counter, however you should consult your doctor for medical advice before taking any new medications. 

Learn more about the different cold and flu medicine that you can obtain from the pharmacy to relieve fevers, headaches, sore throats and more. 

It is important to note that viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics. It is best to consult your doctor about the right medications for treating your symptoms.

Some people may also take supplements like zinc or vitamin C to strengthen the immune system to fight off microorganisms that cause the cold.

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. 
  • 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.