3 Ways to Treat a Cold

Get the relief you need

cold medicine on nightstand with woman in bed in background
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If you have cold, you're probably feeling pretty miserable. Luckily you can find relief by treating your symptoms, whether you've been plagued with major congestion, a nasty cough, body aches... the list goes on. This guide can help you determine which type of cold treatment may be right for you. As always, check with your health care provider if you aren't sure what is causing your illness or how to treat it.

1. Over the Counter Medication

Bad news: You can't cure a cold. A cold is a virus and it must run its course. That being said, you can treat your symptoms with a variety of over the counter medications. Antihistamines help relieve itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose and a scratchy throat. Decongestants alleviate sinus headaches and stuffy noses. If you have a cough that keeps you up at night, take cough syrup. Do not take cough syrup during the day because coughing prevents congestion from settling and becoming infected.

2. Natural Remedies and Cold Treatments

Many people have heard the saying, "Feed a cold, starve a fever." But is it actually true? Does your grandma's famous chicken noodle soup seem to magically make you snap out of a cold? While many old fashioned treatments and home remedies are a bunch of old wives' tales, there is research that supports the soup theory. Soup and other warm liquids help to open up airways, alleviating congestion and flushing out the viruses in the lining of your nose.

Another cold "cure" many people swear by is taking extra vitamin C. Findings about whether it works or not are inconsistent, but unless you have low levels of vitamin C, it will probably do nothing to prevent or cure a cold. People who live in cold climates and people who regularly participate in strenuous exercise, such as distance runners, typically have low levels of vitamin C.

Taking a vitamin C supplement could prevent them from getting colds.

It's tempting to want to give yourself a big blast of vitamin C when you feel cold symptoms coming on, but more isn't better. In fact, taking more than 500 milligrams of vitamin C is basically useless. Our bodies cannot fully absorb it and it's also flushed out through urination.

3. Time: The Only Real Cure

Despite what product packaging and old fashioned home remedies might tell you, there is no miracle cure for a cold. Cold typically last between 7 and 10 days. The only surefire cure is to get some rest and ride it out. A cold can make you feel pretty lousy, but it's usually not so severe that it disrupts your day-to-day. Over the counter medication can help treat symptoms so you can keep your normal routine. There are quite a few natural remedies that also affect the length and severity of cold, but the only real treatment is the one thing no one has enough of: time.

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