There you are, at work, minding your own business when you hear your co-worker sneeze right beside you. At first, you pass it off as nothing but before you know it, within a couple of days you’re sneezing, coughing, fatigued and just plain miserable.
You have caught a common cold, and just like the other three million people that get sick from this cold virus annually, you’ll feel every symptom hit you like a brick.
Luckily, we’ll be going over how to ease your misery, showing you how to get rid of a cold fast and give you some valuable insight on how to take care of yourself while you’re sick.
You’ll feel better and well rested by following through the different ideas that we provide throughout this article.
What Is The Common Cold?
When we think of the common cold, we think of sneezing, aches, fever and feeling miserable all around. What we don’t realize is that nearly every cold we receive is unique. Then how do you cure a cold?
Well, the unfortunate truth is that there is no cure for it. The main reason is that there are well over two hundred different viruses that makeup what we know as a cold.
The most common cold virus that hits our system over half of the time is what is known as the Rhinovirus.
You can catch a common cold pretty much any time of the year; the cold season is more associated in the colder months because people will spend more time indoors and closer to other people to avoid the elements.
Since the cold virus can spread quickly, it would take no time at all to infect an entire household.
The cold virus enters our body through our nose or mouth, attaching to the lining and causing inflammation.
Your body will respond to this threat almost immediately, but if you’re dealing with a strain that you’ve never encountered before, your white blood cell’s first attempts at taking the virus out will fail almost indefinitely.
You’ll notice the fatigue beginning to set in as your body sends more reinforcements and mucus starts to produce at a higher rate because of the irritation.
All it takes is being close to someone when they sneeze or even hugging a loved one that’s infected. Generally, it’s hard to tell right off if you’ve caught a cold because symptoms don’t peak until about the three-day mark.
Unfortunately, that also means that during those days that you’re not aware of being sick, you’re at your most contagious.
If you notice colleagues getting sick or warnings of cold season displayed on the news station, be extra vigilant about your hygiene.
Wash your hands often, don’t touch your face and sanitize your workstation and home often. These efforts that you put in can help reduce the chances of getting sick altogether.
Symptoms Of The Common Cold
The cold virus and the virus that causes influenza are not far apart from each other as far as symptoms are concerned. The main difference that sets them apart is the intensity and the span of time it takes for either one to take off.
Colds can take days to build up, leaving you with symptoms that can come across as mild in comparison to the flu.
The flu can take off within hours of infection, striking you with severe body aches and the chills. It’s important to know the difference between the two and if the symptoms lean more towards the flu, then take measures to counteract it.
The symptoms for a cold, however, are reasonably easy to identify. As the infection usually starts in the upper respiratory tract, you can be confident all of your ailments will involve at least one of these parts of the body.
Common signs of the common cold are:
- Typically begins with a sore throat
- A cough
- A headache
- Body Ache
- Dizziness or Lightheaded
If you start feeling feverish or nauseated, then it may not be just the common cold at work.
Carefully monitor your symptoms, and if they last longer than ten days, then it might be time to see the doctor. While the cold is a virus and antibacterial medication won’t do anything to help your bug, they will prescribe them because an infection took place due to your sickness.
Sounds pretty miserable all together, but thankfully it’s not a problem that lasts a long time.
How long does a cold last? Between seven to ten days with symptoms only beginning to surface at the two to the three-day mark.
Seems like a much better scenario than it feels like, but at worst, you’ll miss a few days from the office to feel better.
How To Get Rid Of A Cold
Everyone wants to know the fastest way to get rid of a cold and it would be convenient if there were a simple answer to that. Some methods will teach you how to get over a cold faster, so you don’t have to suffer quite as long.
You don’t need to know how to make yourself throw up or try that indeed concerning method that your roomies best friend tried once.
Taking care of a cold is simple and straightforward.
Rule One: Stay Hydrated
This is the most critical factor in getting better, but most people overlook how important it is for your body. Staying hydrated is essential because it helps loosen congestion and prevents the nasty side effects of dehydration.
Staying hydrated also helps your body out if you’re experiencing a fever during your cold, as high temperatures dehydrate the body twice as fast than when you’re not warm.
You don’t have to exclusively drink water, you can get hydrated from other things such as juice, clear broths, warm lemon water with honey and many decaffeinated teas.
You’ll want to avoid caffeinated beverages while you’re in recovery because they can disturb any rest you’re trying to get which becomes a problem for your body’s ability to fight off this virus.
Not to mention because of caffeine mild diuretic properties, it can speed up the process of dehydration.
Rule Two: Stay Home And Get Plenty of Rest
It’s hard to be a dedicated person for your job and get sick. You want to go into the office anyway and just ‘tough it out,’ but I have some news for you. If you’re sick, you need to stay home and relax.
Staying home and relaxing will speed the process of recovery along. Most doctors agree that staying home, preventing the spread of what you have on to healthy individuals, and allowing your body to rest as much as it needs is the best way to deal with a cold.
Your body requires energy to take on this threat, and it can’t get enough of it if you’re trying to stay up and work through your cold.
Ultimately if you try to ignore the fact that you’re sick, you could potentially make it worse by not allowing your body to have the energy it needs to fight the virus off.
This can extend your sickness and enable other nasty problems to arise, such as the flu, upper respiratory infection, ear infections, or sinus infections to name a few.
Staying in bed and resting for a couple of days is far better than dealing with that.
Now that those rules are established, it’s time to look at methods to ease some of your symptoms. It’s not easy dealing with them in general, but we can at least take steps that make them more bearable while you’re on the road to recovery.
How To Soothe A Sore Throat
You have a few different options available to help you soothe a sore throat, and they’re all valid ways to deal with it.
The first way to handle the pain is by gargling salt water. You take one-fourth of a teaspoon to a half of a teaspoon of salt and mix it into an eight-ounce glass of warm water. Once thoroughly mixed, gargle it for about ten to twenty seconds before spitting.
If you’re assisting a child with a sore throat, it may be better to avoid the gargle option, only because we don’t want them swallowing saltwater by mistake.
Instead, this next method might fit better for the both of you. You can take ice chips and gently suck on them to cool off the heat from your throat. The cold helps numb the pain for a time, enough to give you some relief.
Aside from that, you’re more than welcome to try throat sprays, lozenges or throat candies to help with the irritation. It may be wise to carefully monitor children with lozenges or hard throat candies as they can get lodged in their throats.
Another fantastic option is honey. You can eat it raw as it comes or mixed it in with your favorite hot, non-caffeinated, beverage. The syrup coats the throat and has antibacterial properties.
It won’t take care of the cold, but it will prevent your irritated throat from getting infected.
Combating Stuffiness And Congestion
Saline nasal drops and sprays are the most effective solution to taking care of a stuffy nose. However, if you don’t have access to saline sprays while you’re sick, other available options can aid in your recovery.
You should use a humidifier to help keep your house moistened down. What this will do for you is provide moisture for your nasal passages and free up some of the mucus that gets lodged in there.
Sure, you’ll have to blow your runny nose a lot to deal with the excess, but you’ll be able to breathe again.
Another great way to clear up your sinuses is to use hot water and steam. Similar to using the humidifier, you boil a pot of boiling water and place a towel over your head, so you can inhale the steam rising from the water.
The moisture will help relieve irritated blood vessels in your nose that causes your congestion. You should do this at least two to three times a day while you’re experiencing this discomfort.
You can also achieve this by taking a hot shower once a day. Not only does this help relieve the symptoms of congestion, but it will also help with any aches and pains you’re experiencing from your cold. Two birds with one stone.
Decongestants can be helpful in dealing with your sinus pressure, but keep in mind that if you’re already using a medication that comes with decongestants in it, you might want to avoid using more.
Nothing is worse than feeling like your body, especially your joints, feel stiff and painful. Colds seem to know how to make you feel like that the entire time you must suffer through them, and it’s one of the parts that no one enjoys.
Whether it’s a headache or your whole body is in revolt, you can ease the pain by taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen to aid in ignoring the pain.
If you need to give your child medicine for their pain, only provide them with acetaminophen.
While aspirin is labeled as safe for children and teens, if they are recovering from flu-like symptoms or chicken pox, there’s a chance that they could develop Reyes condition, which is a rare but often fatal condition that is linked to aspirin use during these times.
If you want to avoid pills all together, then you should use an electric heat mat on the areas of your body that ache the most. Most of them come with pre-set timers that turn off on their own, so you can sleep the whole time without worrying about fire.
You can replicate this method with a pair of old socks filled with either dry beans or rice and set it in the microwave with a small bowl of water for about two minutes.
The heat from the microwave and the moisture from the water will allow the contents of the sock to get warm without burning the insides.
These heat packs can ease aches for a good hour if kept under a warm blanket to evenly disperse the heat.
Feel Better Fast
The common cold has had a lot of different ‘cures’ cycle through for a long time. Many people still believe that antibacterial medication will kill off a virus in a matter of hours, which of course isn’t true.
Another common belief is that Vitamin C will prevent colds from even touching you. While it can’t stop you from getting sick, it has been noted that if you take vitamin C before you’ve gotten sick, it could shorten the duration of your cold.
You may not be able to get rid of cold within a twenty-four-hour period, but there are always steps you can take to reduce both the length of time and the severity of the symptoms that you’ll have to endure.
As mentioned above, there is no cure for the common cold. However, you can start changing your habits, especially around cold season to help you prevent catching one.