Everyone experiences the common cold. Unfortunately, nothing can cure it directly; however, you can treat the symptoms and take action to help your body get over the sickness quicker. When it comes down to it, boosting your body’s immune system and treating yourself with care is the fastest way to get rid of a cold.
While your first instinct may be to head to the pharmacy and pick up over-the-counter medicine, you may want to consider taking a more targeted, natural approach. To support your body’s natural defenses, give your immune system everything it needs through a combination of healthy habits.
What is the Common Cold?
Though everyone catches a cold from time to time and experience similar symptoms, no two colds are exactly alike. Why? Because more than 200 different types of viruses can cause the illness that people refer to as the “common cold.” Most colds derive from viruses within these four groups: human rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, parainfluenza viruses, and adenoviruses.
Though cold symptoms and their severity vary based on the type of virus you’ve been exposed to, most colds cause a combination of the following symptoms:
- Scratchy or sore throat
- Stuffy nose
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Body aches
- Low-grade fever
In most situations, people catch colds by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces or breathing in infected air droplets from a sneeze or cough by someone with a cold.
In general, it takes people roughly a week to 10 days to fully recover from a cold. Fortunately, you don’t have to just and wait it out. To get better faster, try improving your immune health with the following tactics:
Keeping your body hydrated is an essential step in building your immunity and getting rid of a cold. Drinking lots of water and juice can soothe your throat and prevent dehydration. Warm liquids such as soup, tea, or warm water with lemon or honey can ease congestion by increasing the flow of mucus within your system. While sick, you should avoid dehydrating drinks like alcohol, caffeinated sodas, and energy drinks.
Get Plenty of Rest
Your body needs time to rest, and when you have a cold, your body uses this time to heal. Without proper rest, your body will take longer to fight off the virus. If you’re feeling a cold coming on, curl up, get comfy, and give your body the rest it needs.
Increase Intake of Vitamin C and Vitamin D
The body needs nutrients and vitamins to function correctly. Vitamin C and D, in particular, are excellent at boosting immune system functions. Foods like citrus fruits, leafy greens, and other vegetables are packed with vitamin C, and you can find vitamin D in cheese, egg yolks, milk, almond milk, and salmon.
Use a Vaporizer or Humidifier
Cold viruses thrive and spread easily in drier environments. The use of a mist vaporizer or humidifier can add moisture to the air, reducing exposure and improving congestion and nasal inflammation.
Gargle with Salt Water
Gargling with salt water can decrease severe cold symptoms like a sore throat or nasal congestion. Upper respiratory infections may be prevented through gargling as well. If you rinse with salt water, bacteria and allergen contained within mucus is loosened and more easily expelled from the body.
Treat Your Sore Throat
Some viral infections cause sore throats directly, but you can also develop a sore throat as the result of coughing and mucus draining from nasal passages. In addition to gargling saltwater, try using ice chips, popsicles, sore throat sprays, lozenges, and tea with honey to soothe the sensitive tissues of the throat.
Try Medicinal Plants and Herbs
Many plants and herbs have numerous health benefits and medicinal properties that can help you overcome a cold. For example, you can try the following natural cold remedies:
- A few slices of ginger in boiling water can soothe a cough and sore throat or stave off nausea.
- Garlic’s antimicrobial properties can reduce the severity of a cold.
- Peppermint is often used as a decongestant because of its cooling effects.
- Many people believe elderberry can help fight respiratory infections.
Eat Natural Probiotics
Probiotics, known as “friendly” bacteria, help keep the gut and immune system healthy. Rich sources of natural probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, buttermilk, and some types of cheeses.
Fight Your Cold with Natural Remedies
The common cold is a part of the natural world, but so are some of the best ways to fight it off. While these remedies are by no means cure-alls, they can reduce the irritation of cold symptoms and help you recover sooner and get back to your usual self.