The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms of a cold include running nose, cough, congestion, sore throat, watery eyes, sneezing, headache, muscle aches and mild fatigue. Colds can generally last from two days to two weeks. There is no cure for the common cold, but there are things you can do to speed up your recovery. Getting enough rest, eating properly, zinc supplementation and over-the-counter cold medications might reduce your symptoms and help get rid of your cold.
Get Lots of Sleep
Stay home and get plenty of rest at the first signs of a cold. Avoid going out and reduce your activity level. Remain in bed and sleep as much as possible. Lack of rest and sleep can further weaken your immune system and prolong the duration of your cold. Sleeping increases your body's ability to fight infection and allows your body to heal. Slow down and take it easy to quickly recuperate from your cold.
Follow a simple diet when you have a cold. Eat healthy foods without overloading your digestive system. Your body needs plenty of vitamins and nutrients to boost your immune system and fight the cold infection. Consume a variety of fresh fruits, steamed vegetables, juices and clear soups. Choose foods with high amounts of vitamin C, such as oranges and grapefruits. Eat small amounts of protein. Drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration. Avoid processed foods, spices, fat, caffeine and starch.
Supplement with Zinc
Zinc supplements can take the edge off common cold symptoms. A 2011 study published in "The Cochrane Library" suggests that zinc supplements may reduce the duration and severity of illness experienced from the common cold. The study also found that zinc may improve immune system function and can be taken regularly as a cold preventative supplement. Zinc is available as a syrup and in lozenge or tablet form. It is most effective when taken within 24 hours of the first signs of a cold. Consult with your physician before taking zinc to ensure its safety and determine your correct dosage.
Treat Symptoms with Cold Medications
Take over-the-counter cold medications to ease your symptoms. Acetaminophen, expectorants, antihistamines and decongestants may help you feel better and allow you to rest better to reduce the duration of your cold. Acetaminophen is a pain-relieving medicine that can be used to treat headaches, fever and muscle aches associated with a cold. Expectorants are medicines that break up phlegm due to chest congestion and may help you breathe easier. Antihistamines reduce sinus inflammation while decongestants help to clear a stuffy nose. Always consult with a physician prior to taking any cold medications.