Although it’s not a very serious virus, the common cold can make you feel miserable.
The key to curing a cold fast is early detection. If you think you’ve contracted a cold, you need to take precautionary measures immediately. Increase your vitamins. Soothe your throat. Clear your nasal passages. These measures will strengthen your body’s ability to fight off the cold and hopefully reduce its duration. Beyond these measures, just rest and relax as much as you can. Do not try to get antibiotics, as a cold is caused by a virus, not bacteria, and antibiotics will be no help or cure.
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3. Take a decongestant.
Nasal decongestants — either liquid or pill form — help shrink blood vessels in the nasal membranes and allow the nasal passages to open up. Phenylephrine (like Sudafed PE) and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) are two over-the-counter decongestants proven to help with colds.
- You can also get decongestants as a nasal spray over-the-counter. All it takes is one or two quick squirts and you’ll start feeling some relief. Nasal sprays contain oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, xylometazoline, or naphazoline. Use only as directed. Using it more than 3-5 times a day can actually increase that stuffy feeling.
- Side effects of decongestants include insomnia (sleeping problems), dizziness, and increased blood pressure. Do not use oral decongestants if you have heart issues or hypertension. Use under a doctor’s direction if you have diabetes, thyroid problems, glaucoma, or prostate issues.
4. Take an expectorant. An expectorant is a form of over-the-counter medication which clears the sinuses by thinning mucus and loosening phlegm that may have settled in your lungs. This will allow you to breathe easier and leave you more comfortable.
- Expectorants are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. They are usually taken in liquid form, but they can also be found as tablets and powders. Currently, the only over-the-counter expectorant available is guaifenesin. Look for this active ingredient when searching for medications. Mucinex is the most common brand name guaifenesin-containing medicine sold in pharmacies.
- Be aware that expectorants, like all medications, may have side-effects. Those most commonly associated with this form of medication include nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop taking the expectorant immediately.
5. Increase your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C has long been touted for its cold-preventing properties, but did you know it can also help to shorten the duration of a cold?
- Up your intake by drinking orange juice and eating foods like strawberries, kiwis and leafy green vegetables, which have a high vitamin C content.
- You can also take a vitamin C supplement, available in tablet form in drug and health food stores. The recommended dosage is 90 mg a day for men and 75 mg a day for women, according to the National Institutes of Health.