You can treat a cold at home by resting and using these common remedies.
Cold symptoms are part of your body’s healing processes. Most of the time, it does not require any help. However, you can get rid of a cold faster, even overnight, with the following simple measures:
- Stay at home: Staying at home when you are sick will restore your energy and protect others from getting infected. Do not fly unless it is extremely necessary. If you must fly, use some over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants and carry a nasal spray. Take all the social distancing precautions. A few hours of bed rest can do wonders for your body.
- Drink plenty of hot fluids: Hot drinks or a cup of hot herbal tea can make you feel better. Hot liquids may relieve your nasal congestion, prevent dehydration and soothe discomfort due to a sore throat. Try sipping herbal tea, lemon water, or warm broth. Soups, especially chicken soup, may help thin mucus and relieve aches and congestion. Try to take a hot drink before going to bed if you can’t sleep at night. Add a spoonful of honey to your herbal or lemon tea to help you sleep soundly and relieve your cough. However, avoid giving honey to a baby younger than one-year-old. Drinking hot fluids may loosen mucus and reduce nasal congestion. It also can help with headaches and fatigue. Keep a glass or bottle handy and refill it with water.
- Sleep: It will recharge your body. Insufficient sleep may weaken your immunity. It is one of the best medicines for a cold. Go to bed early and take naps during the day until you feel better. Place extra pillows under your head to ease sinus pressure and help you breathe more easily. Prop yourself up with pillows to help relieve a cough.
- Gargle with warm salt water: Gargling will moisten your throat and may provide temporary relief. Gargle with half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in one cup of warm water a few times a day. It will soothe your sore throat and ease the throat swelling.
- Blow your nose: Blowing your nose gently in the right way may help clear a stuffy nose. However, avoid blowing it hard.
- Take a hot steamy shower: Moisture in the air can ease your breathing. The stream can moisten your scratchy sore throat and reduce stuffy nasal congestion. Therefore, a hot shower may provide you with much relief and relax your muscles.
- Humidifier: A good humidifier may help add moisture to the air and soothe your dry sinuses.
- OTC medicines: These may help to ease your symptoms, but they will not make your cold go away any faster. Moreover, you must consult your pediatrician before giving any OTC medicine to a child under the age of six years old. You can take the following OTC medicines.
- Pain relievers: You can take acetaminophen for your fever and aches. If you are taking any cold medicine, then you must check whether it already contains the pain reliever along with cold medications. Consult your doctor if you are confused. It can be dangerous if you are getting the same ingredient in different remedies. Therefore, read the label carefully and avoid a combination of medicines.
- Lozenges: Lozenges may soothe your throat soreness for some time. Avoid lozenges in kids younger than five years old.
- Decongestant: Use a decongestant to relieve nasal and airway stuffiness. It shrinks nasal blood vessels and opens up your airway. However, using too much decongestant may worsen the congestion; therefore, avoid using it for more than three days.
- Antihistamines: These can dry up your runny nose. These drugs block the chemical that causes sneezing and sniffling. Cetirizine is one example. Antihistamines along with decongestants may help you more.
- Expectorant: If you have mucus in your lungs, taking an expectorant may help loosen it. However, consult your pediatrician before giving it to your child or if you are asthmatic.
- Mentholated salve: Use small dabs of salve containing menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor to help to relieve a stuffy nose. However, apply it only on the outside and avoid putting it inside the nose.
- Avoid antibiotics: Antibiotics may not help if you have a viral infection. It may make it harder for your body to fight future bacterial infections if you are taking them unnecessarily.
Why do you catch a cold?
There are many different respiratory viruses, bacteria, and other germs that can cause common cold or nasopharyngitis. Each year, one billion people in the United States get sick with a cold.
More than 200 different viruses are known to cause the common cold. Rhinoviruses are the most common reason behind viral colds. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted human life and has turned fatal for some people. Other viruses that can cause a cold include a respiratory syncytial virus, human parainfluenza viruses, adenovirus, and human metapneumovirus. These flu viruses, bacteria, and other germs can be everywhere and anywhere in our environment. Touching doorknobs and infected surfaces, shaking hands with sick people, and constantly visiting crowded places may spread the infection.
Mostly, people get colds in the winter and spring, but some may get them any time of the year. It may give you a sore throat, runny nose, headache, body aches, and cough, or sometimes a fever. These annoying symptoms are part of the natural healing process of the immune system. Mostly, these signs disappear within 7 to 10 days. However, if you have weak immunity, asthma, or another respiratory condition, you may require help to recover.
When should you see your doctor?
See your doctor if:
- Your symptoms last more than 10 days.
- Your symptoms are unusual and more severe.
- Your baby who is younger than three months of age has fever and lethargy.
- You or your baby has serious conditions or flu complications that may look like just a common cold but are not getting better.
- You are an adult who is 65 years or older.
- You are pregnant.
- You have a certain medical condition such as strep throat, sinus infection, bronchitis, asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.
Your doctor will evaluate you or your baby’s condition and recommend treatment accordingly.
How to Get Rid of a Cold: Natural Remedies
How can you prevent yourself from getting a cold?
- Some hygiene measures can help protect you against getting these infections such as frequent hand washing, maintaining social distance in crowds, staying away from people who are sick, covering your face while sneezing or coughing, avoiding contact with sick people, and not touching your face.
- Eating a healthy diet may improve your immunity and help you get well soon. Fruits and vegetables that are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, zinc, and antioxidants can boost your immunity.
- Adopt a daily routine exercise, which can also boost your immunity.
- Maintaining a good healthy weight is also beneficial for your immunity. People with excess weight may have an increased risk of infections due to low immunity.
In the future, there will be vaccines for rhinovirus, coronavirus, and flu viruses. However, as of now, there is no vaccine to protect you against the common cold.
How do you get rid of a cold in a child fast?
Most children suffer from at least six to eight cold episodes a year, and most recover spontaneously.
Most children suffer from at least six to eight cold episodes a year, and most recover spontaneously. There are over 200 cold viruses, but this condition is often caused by rhinoviruses. There is no vaccine against this, and antibiotics don’t work.
Colds just have to run their course like most viral infections. Children recover from colds on their own and clear up within 1 or 2 weeks. Therefore, you must focus on easing your child’s symptoms until they recover.
Here are some remedies to fasten the recovery:
- Homestay: Keep the child at home and avoid any regular activities such as school until the child feels better, at least fever-free for 24-hours.
- Bed rest: Rest may help your kid to get well soon. Keep the child warm and well-rested. Good bed rest may help the child’s body to boost immunity. Raise the child’s head with a pillow to relieve the nasal congestion.
- Plenty of fluids: As your child may dehydrate (likely to lose fluid) from fever, vomiting, or runny nose, make sure to offer them plenty of fluids such as water, apple juice, electrolyte solution, warm chicken soup, or herbal tea to prevent it. Drinking fluid will keep the child’s throat lubricated too. If your baby is breastfeeding, keep it up. Breast milk protects your child from infection.
- Humidifier: Running a cool-mist humidifier will keep the air in the child’s room moist, and it will lower the child’s nasal and chest congestion.
- Hot-water steam: Sit in the bathroom with the hot shower running so that your child breathes in the steam and clears the stuffy nose. If the child is too young, you may sit near the hot shower with your kid on your lap.
- Saline nasal spray: You can use a saline nasal spray to moisten the child’s nasal passages. Usually, they are safe for children. Carefully put a few drops of saline water in the baby’s nostril twice a day.
- Clear the nasal mucus: Keep your infant’s nose clear using a rubber-bulb syringe or aspirator. Teach the child aged above 5 years to blow their nose regularly.
- Gargling: Warm salt water gargling may relieve sore throat pain and loosen mucus in children aged above 6 years.
- Petroleum jelly: Rubbing petroleum jelly over the child’s nose may prevent chapping. Never rub it on the inner side of the child’s nares.
- Fever management:
- Loosen the child’s clothing or use light blankets to avoid overheating.
- Sponging with lukewarm water may relieve the discomfort and lower the temperature. However, avoid if the child becomes too cold.
- Fever relievers:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) may relieve fever and discomfort. However, it does not cure the infection.
- OTC medicines should be avoided in small babies aged younger than 3 months. Consult your pediatrician about fever medications, dosage, and directions to use.
- Follow all the dosing instructions while giving any medicines to children.
- Never give Advil (ibuprofen) to an infant aged younger than 6 months. Your pediatrician may recommend it for your child aged older than 6 months. Enquire about proper dosage and direction of use.
- Never give aspirin to a child aged younger than 18 years unless directed by the pediatrician. It may cause a serious fatal side effect called Reye’s syndrome (swelling in the liver and brain).
- Avoid these medicines if your child is dehydrated or vomiting continuously.
- Cough management:
- Avoid using OTC cough medicines for kids aged younger than 4 years. It can be dangerous.
- Consult your pediatrician and check the instructions before giving them to them.
- Sipping warm milk with a pinch of turmeric may help.
The common cold is one of the most common illnesses in the world.
How to prevent your child from catching a cold?
Following tips may help your child from catching a cold:
- Avoid direct contact of your child with people who have a cold/flu because the child can catch a cold through air-borne droplets.
- Teach children aged older than 5 years to wash their hands often before eating, after using the bathroom, or coughing/sneezing.
- Wash hands of the child aged younger than 5 years well and often.
- Teach the child to avoid touching the face constantly.
- Keep their toys and play area clean.
- Avoid smoking in front of your child.
- Teach children aged older than 5 years to sneeze or cough into a tissue or their elbow.
- Teach them not to share personal items with someone who has a cold/flu.
When should you see a pediatrician?
Your child should recover on their own but see a pediatrician if
- The child is very young (aged younger than 6 months).
- Symptoms last more than 14 days.
- Symptoms remain unresolved after over-the-counter (OTC) medication.
- The child has breathing problems.
- The child has a painful, sore throat.
- The child has difficulty swallowing.
- The child has a fever of more than 100.4°F that lasts for more than 72 hours.
- The child has a persistent, severe cough or is coughing up a lot of mucus.
- The child is vomiting more than once.
- There is a decrease in inactivity.
- The child has chest pain.
- The child has stomach pain.
- The child has ear pain.
- The child has facial pain.
- The child has a headache.
- The child has a stiff neck.
- The child has swollen neck glands.
- The child is not passing urine.
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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2022
Medscape Medical Reference
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Penn State Hershey Medical Center
Fries WC. Home Remedies for Children’s Colds and Flu. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/children/features/home-remedies-kids-winter-ills#1
WebMD. Treating Colds in Children. https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/treating-colds-in-children