The common cold hits all of us at some point, and though it usually is not serious, it can cause discomfort and interfere with daily life. According to the Mayo Clinic, the common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Children in preschool are at greatest risk for catching colds, but even adults will likely have several colds over the course of the year. Though there is no cure for a cold, there are some things you can do to ease symptoms and speed up recovery.
At the start of cold symptoms, such as a runny or stuffy nose, congestion, slight body aches or low-grade fever, try to get as much rest as you can. This will help rest your body so you can fight off the infection. This can also help you prevent complications of a cold, like pneumonia, says the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Stay hydrated. Mucus production and fever can both cause dehydration, and drinking clear fluids such as broth, water and juice can help replenish your body. The Mayo Clinic says that chicken soup can also help with a cold and that it encourages healing from colds and flu by reducing congestion and acting as an anti-inflammatory.
Vitamin C supplementation can help reduce the duration of a cold by about one day, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. This only works if the vitamin is taken daily, and not just when cold symptoms appear. Due to side effects with high doses of this vitamin, it is best to ask your doctor what an appropriate dosage is for you.
Zinc lozenges may help reduce the risk of catching a cold and help speed up recovery from a cold, but results of studies are mixed and more studies need to be performed. Zinc nasal sprays can help ease congestion, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Too much zinc may be dangerous, so ask your health-care provider what a proper dose is for you.
The herb echinacea may also shorten the duration of a cold and speed up healing. Results from various studies have been conflicting, but on average, the duration of the common cold was shortened by approximately a day and a half, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. The herb was used in conjunction with other herbs and vitamins, so the effect may not have been caused solely by echinacea. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should not use this herb. Check with your health-care provider to ensure it is safe for you.
Many other herbs have been used in treating the common cold and reducing symptoms. Before using these, consulting a professional homeopath can be beneficial to determine possible benefits and side effects. Check with your health-care provider before you consume the herbs to avoid medication interactions or adverse effects.
If you have asthma, a respiratory condition or you are pregnant, it is best to see your health-care provider when you have a cold to get proper instruction in how to treat it. If your cold symptoms do not resolve in seven to 10 days, the University of Maryland suggests that a professional's help may be necessary to rule out complications.