Although most of the time a cold goes away on its own within four to seven days, there are certain things you can do to ease your symptoms and help yourself feel better much faster. You can get rid of a cold both naturally and fast by clearing your nasal passages with non-medical options, like steam or saline solution, and treating your symptoms with the right herbs, extracts, teas, and supplements. Getting plenty of rest, fluids, and nutrition will also allow your body to fight the cold bug faster.
Method 1: Clearing Your Nasal Passages
Drink plenty of warm fluids
Drinking warm fluids helps to loosen the secretions in your sinuses so that your mucus flows more freely, making you feel better faster. Studies show that drinking warm fluids relieves cold symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, and fatigue.
Take steamy baths and showers
Steam moisturizes your nasal passages so they feel less irritated, and the relaxing effect will help ease your cold symptoms. Draw yourself a hot bath and soak, or start each day during the duration of your cold with a nice, hot shower so you benefit from plenty of steam. You may even find a mentholated “shower bomb” helpful to relieve congestion.
Consider oil pulling
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic remedy that uses oil to remove germs and bacteria from your mouth. Most microorganisms adhere to the fat in oil, allowing you to spit them out along with the oil.
Use a neti pot to irrigate your sinuses
A neti pot is designed to flush the mucus from your sinuses and relieve cold symptoms for several hours through a process called nasal irrigation. A saline solution is poured into one nostril, and it carries mucus out the other. Neti pots are available at most drug stores and health food shops.
Blow your nose correctly
While it’s important to blow your nose while you have a cold to help keep your sinuses clear, don’t blow too explosively. The pressure from blowing hard can impact your ears, giving you an earache on top of your cold. Be sure to blow gently, and only as often as necessary.
Method 2: Using Natural Remedies
Take elderberry extract
European elder is widely used in medicine. It can help reduce congestion and other symptoms of respiratory illness. Elderberry has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, which can help fight colds, and it stimulates the immune system.
Eucalyptus has antioxidant properties that protect against free radicals, molecules that can damage cells. The active ingredient in eucalyptus is cineole, a compound that works as an expectorant to fight respiratory infections and alleviate coughs. You can find it in a lozenge, cough syrup, and vapor bath forms at most drug stores.
Peppermint is also widely used to treat cold symptoms. Its main ingredient, menthol, is an excellent decongestant. Menthol thins mucus and breaks up phlegm. It can also soothe sore throats and coughs. You can find peppermint in essential oils, lozenges, supplemental extracts, herbal teas, and as a fresh or dried herb.
Eat raw honey
Honey contains anti-viral agents and strengthens your immune system, and raw honey is even better for you. Raw honey is solid at room temperature and has a slightly stronger flavor than pasteurized honey. For maximum benefits, look for raw honey that has been harvested locally, as it helps your body combat the allergens particular to your area.
Garlic appears to boost your immune system and may have a mild anti-viral quality. More studies are needed to determine whether garlic can help fight colds, but it shows some promise.
- You can take garlic as a supplement, or eat it in foods. You should aim to eat two to four cloves of garlic per day to maximize any effects.
Method 3: Helping Your Body Feel Better Faster
Gargle warm salt water
A warm saltwater gargle can help moisturize a scratchy throat. Mix ¼ to ½ tsp of kosher or pickling salt in an eight-ounce glass of warm, distilled, or boiled water.
- Gargle with the water for one minute, then spit out. Repeat every few hours as necessary.
- Do not ask young children to gargle. They may accidentally swallow the liquid.
Consume vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help strengthen your immune system. Vitamin C will not “cure” a cold, but it can help your body heal faster. Most adults should consume between 65–90 mg a day, and no more than 2,000 mg per day.
- Citrus fruits, red and green peppers, kiwifruit, spinach, and other raw fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C.
Drink enough fluids
Staying hydrated can help soothe a sore throat. Drink plenty of water, juice, or clear broth. If you have been vomiting, you may need to drink a sports drink containing electrolytes to restore your electrolyte balance.
Get plenty of rest
Your body needs rest in order to heal faster, so go ahead and call in sick. (Your coworkers probably don’t want to catch your cold, either.) Pushing yourself too hard can weaken your immune system, meaning it takes longer to recover from your cold.
Manage your stress
Several studies suggest that practicing relaxation techniques can help reduce the duration of colds and flu. Some good stress reduction techniques include breathing exercises, yoga, and tai chi.
Know when to see a doctor
In many cases, the doctor will tell you to treat a common cold with the remedies in this article. However, if you have severe symptoms of a cold or flu, or have been previously diagnosed with a respiratory disease, you should seek medical attention immediately. If you have any of the following symptoms, see a doctor:
- High fever (above 102 °F or 38.9 °C)
- Ear or nasal infection
- Green, brown, or bloody nasal discharge
- A cough with green phlegm
- A cough that does not go away
- Skin Rashes