5 Surefire Ways to Shorten Your Cold

5 Surefire Ways to Shorten Your Cold

There may not be a cure for the common cold, but there are ways to shorten its duration.

By Nicole Fabian-Weber

At one time or another, we’ve all woken up with a killer cold in the dead of winter. The stuffy nose, the fever, the exhaustion -- it's enough to make anyone want to pick up and move to a warmer climate. Colds and viruses are pretty much inevitable during the winter months, and while there's no surefire way to avoid them (short of never leaving your house), there are proven ways to reduce the duration of the nasty bugs.

Feeling under the weather? Don't let it take over your life. Try these five tips for shortening the length of your cold.

1. Drink, drink, drink. When you have a cold, fluids are your best friend -- except if said fluids are alcohol, coffee, or other caffeinated beverages, which dehydrate you. When you're sick, loading up on water, juice, or even a clear broth soup helps break up phlegm and replace important fluids in your body. Fill up a few reusable bottles with water and always have them in the fridge. And, if you're not a fan of water, try adding some lemon, which many believe helps cleanse your system.

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2. Gargle with salt water. Some studies have shown that gargling with a mixture of warm water and salt helps alleviate a sore throat, as well as relieve congestion. The Mayo Clinic suggests dissolving 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt in an 8 ounce glass of warm water for best results.

3. Take elderberry. Some evidence has shown that elderberry can be effective in reducing the length of a cold or the flu. (One study found that elderberry could reduce the length of the flu by a whopping three days!) Evidently, elderberry helps relieve nasal congestion, as well as make you sweat more, which will release toxins. There are a few different species of this herb, but the one most commonly used to treat colds is Sambucus nigra, or European elder. Of course, talk to your doctor before taking any supplement or herb.


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4. Use a humidifier. A virus thrives in a dry environment, which is one of the reasons colds are much more common in the winter. To combat this, put a humidifier in your room at bedtime and shut the door. Keep in mind, though, fungi and other bacteria love humidity, so be sure to change the humidifier water every day, as well as clean the unit at least weekly.

5. Believe your chosen remedy will do the trick. Many people believe that echinacea helps prevent or shorten the duration of the cold, although some researchers feel it hasn’t been proven effective. But there may be something to simply believing it will work. In a study, one group was given echinacea and another was given a placebo. Researchers found that the people who believed they were taking echinacea (whether they were or not) got over their colds faster than those who didn't think they were So whether you opt for echinacea, salt water, or rest, believing it’ll shorten your cold could actually do just that.

What tricks do you have for fighting a cold?

Nicole Fabian-Weber is the mama of a toddler girl and a baby boy. She lives outside of NYC and writes for The Stir and numerous other online publications. Right now, she’s probably fantasizing about sleep.

Image ©iStock.com/IS_ImageSource

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These tips really help now I may pass them on to my Mom who"s suffering from a cold as we speak.

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