The common cold is a part of life, yet it is often one of life's biggest inconveniences. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people in the United States have an estimated 1 billion colds each year, and more than 200 different viruses are known to cause the symptoms of the common cold. This prevalence of colds in society is what makes them…common!
It's always best to start treating a cold as soon as you feel the first sign of one. Unlike the flu or other more severe viruses, cold symptoms gradually build which can help give you more time to prepare a treatment plan. Some common, early cold symptoms may include:
- Sore or scratchy throat
- Runny nose
- Headache, body aches or fatigue
- Coughing or sneezing
- Nasal congestion
While the common cold has no actual cure, there are some home remedies and OTC solutions that many people swear by. We're taking a look at some of the most-talked about ways to help shorten colds, relieve symptoms and get you back to your routine.
8 Remedies to Help Get Rid of Cold Symptoms Quicker
- Rest: Common colds can feel unavoidable at times, particularly when the weather changes and people spend more time inside, or when kids go back to school and are more exposed to germs. If you have early signs of a cold, do your best to make arrangements to stay home and help avoid spreading germs to others. This isolation is not just for the benefit of your friends, family and coworkers though; rest is one of the most important things you can do to help your body heal. According to Dr. Neha Vyas, MD, at the Cleveland Clinic, “rest and sleep allows your immune system to recharge. Your immune system can do its job and help you fight this infection naturally.”
- Hydrate: Staying hydrated can help replenish your body with fluids and help relieve cold symptoms like dehydration and headaches. Drink plenty of water and beverages that contain electrolytes or letter vitamins like B vitamins and vitamin C that can help replenish essential nutrients. Steer clear of sugary or caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
- Eat healthy, hydrating foods: It's understandable that when you're sick with a cold, the last thing you want to do is cook or eat a plate of hard, raw vegetables. There are plenty of healthy foods that don't require a lot of effort but still give you the nourishement you need and relieve some of your cold symptoms.
Chicken noodle soup is a common, go-to for people when they want to treat a cold and feel better faster. It's more filling than water and is a great source for calories, protein, vitamins, and electrolytes. If you are not a fan of this type of soup, any other brothy soup can be a good substitute. Plus, the hot liquid can be soothing on a sore throat and congested airways.
If you're having a hard time with hot foods, cold or frozen liquid foods such as fruit popsicles or smoothies can be fine alternatives. Additionally, fresh fruits that are mostly water like berries, oranges, grapes and melons can also provide hydration.
As mentioned above, there is no cure for a cold but these types of foods may help give you relief so you can shorten the duration of your cold symptoms.
- Turn on the humidifier: At-home humidifiers can be relatively inexpensive, and can help increase the moisture in your home. Moisture in the air can help relieve cold symptoms like dry noses and sore throats and can help break up mucus so you can cough it up and clear your airways. Because humidifiers involve electricity and water, be sure to follow all the usage and care instructions that come with your unit.
- Avoid stimulants and irritants that can make cold symptoms feel worse: Smoking in particular should be avoided when you are trying to shorten your cold. Inhaling smoke or exposure to secondhand smoke can irritate your nose, throat and lungs. Foods and drinks that can cause dehydration or inflammation can also be classified as an irritant when it comes to treating a cold. Excesses of sugar, sugary drinks, dairy, alcohol, caffeine and salty foods may impact how well you feel relief from cold symptoms.
- Try a home remedy for temporarily relief: Old wives tales on how to cure a cold have been passed down through generations. None of them will cure the cold, but many of these home remedies to treat a cold are tried and true because they help provide temporary relief from symptoms like pain and irritation. Gargling warm salt water can help alleviate a sore throat, as can drinking hot water or tea with a spoonful of honey. They can also help you feel relaxed as you try to rest.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces: This will help reduce the chances of the common cold viruses spreading throughout your home and to other members of your family via your home's surfaces. Cleaning products should say on the label and on the back of the package, bottle or container that they are approved to kill or remove viruses that cause the common cold. High-touch surfaces that you should pay special attention to are door knobs, appliance door handles, sink handles and faucets, light switches, countertops, non-wooden desks, and remote controls. Always follow the instructions on the label for how to use cleaning and disinfecting products so you can remove and kill viruses correctly and effectively.
- Use an OTC medicine to alleviate symptoms: Over-the-counter medications like Zicam® Cold Remedy with Elderberry are formulated to help alleviate cold symptoms so you can feel relief. There are a wide variety of cold medicines out there, including syrups, tablets, lozenges, gummies and hard drops so you can find a flavor and form that works best for your preferences. Always use products as directed on the package.
Does Zicam® Cold Remedy help shorten a cold?
Zicam® Cold Remedy is the #1 Cold Shortener brand†. Unlike other cold medicines that mask cold symptoms, Zicam® Cold Remedy products may help you shorten the duration of a cold when taken at the first sign of a cold. Zicam® comes in a range of products that offer a variety of forms and flavors:
- Zicam® Cold Remedy Original RapidMelts® are homeopathic, quick-dissolve tablets that melt in your mouth. They are formulated with zinc, reduce the duration of the common cold* and help relieve nasal congestion. These non-drowsy, non-habit-forming tablets come in a citrus or cherry flavor plus a lemon-lime flavor that also contains Echinacea to help relieve stuffy nose‡. Also available are citrus Rapidmelts with Elderberry (sambucus nigra) to help relieve cold symptoms‡.
- Zicam® Cold Remedy ULTRA RapidMelts® are homeopathic, quick-dissolve, sugar-free, dye-free tablets that melt in your mouth without water. Like Zicam® Cold Remedy Original RapidMelts®, ULTRA RapidMelts are formulated with zinc, reduce the duration of the common cold* and help relieve nasal congestion. These non-drowsy, non-habit-forming tablets come in orange cream and cherry flavor.
- Zicam® Cold Remedy Medicated Fruit Drops are formulated with zinc, reduce the duration of the common cold* and help relieve nasal congestion. These homeopathic, non-drowsy, non-habit-forming fruit drops come in assorted fruit, ultimate orange, and manuka honey flavors. In addition, there is an Elderberry flavor that contains sambucus nigra that can help relieve cold symptoms‡.
- Zicam® Cold Remedy Lozenges are formulated with zinc, reduce the duration of the common cold* and help relieve nasal congestion. These homeopathic, non-drowsy, non-habit-forming lozenges come in two flavors: a cherry flavor that helps soothe sore throats and coughs‡ and an elderberry flavor that helps relieve cold symptoms‡.
- Zicam® Cold Remedy Oral Mist™ is formulated with zinc, reduces the duration of the common cold* and helps relieve nasal congestion. This homeopathic, non-drowsy, non-habit-forming mist comes in an Arctic Mint flavor and soothes sore throats and coughs‡.
- Zicam® Cold Remedy Nasal Spray is the ONLY cold-shortening nasal spray. This zinc-free, homeopathic, no-drip nasal spray reduces the duration of the common cold* and helps relieve nasal congestion. This non-drowsy, non-habit-forming nasal spray is formulated with cooling menthol and eucalyptus.
- Zicam® Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs are the ONLY cold-shortening nasal swabs. These zinc-free, homeopathic, medicated nasal swabs reduce the duration of the common cold* and help relieve nasal congestion. These non-drowsy, non-habit-forming nasal swabs are formulated with cooling menthol and eucalyptus.
*When taken at the first sign of a cold.
†Based on unit sales data, IRI total US Multi-Outlet, latest 52 weeks-ending 08/21/22.
‡Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.