There are no treatments that fight cold viruses directly. Painkillers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol) can provide some relief from cold symptoms. So can nasal sprays, but many of the other treatments have either not been studied well enough or have no proven benefit.
Colds are very common: Adults come down with a cold two to four times a year, and children have as many as six to ten colds a year. This is because colds can be caused by many different viruses, so an infection from one virus does not make you immune to other cold viruses.
Sadly, there is no magical cure for the common cold, but there are plenty of things out there to help relieve symptoms such as sinus pains and blocked noses. Colds usually go away on their own after about one to two weeks, but the symptoms – such as a runny or stuffy nose, cough and headache – can be bothersome. None of the currently available treatments can shorten the length of a cold. Antibiotics are not effective in the treatment of simple common colds because they only fight against bacteria. They can have side effects too, so they should only be used if a bacterial infection develops as a complication of the cold. The overuse of antibiotics can contribute to resistant bacteria, so doctors now ask patients to think twice about asking for prescriptions. Sore throats, for example, are often caused by viral, not bacterial infections.
Here’s some list of some of the best and most unusual pieces of advice.
1. Coconut Water
Yeah yeah, we know, every man and his dog is trying to sell you on the benefits of coconut water. But besides it being the trendiest thing to drink since Fiji water, there is some evidence to prove it hydrates you at a faster rate than tap water.
And as any good Doctor will tell you, recovering from a cold is all about hydration, hydration, hydration!
(In the absence of coconut water, normal water will also work just fine).
2. Allergy Tablets
Although you should always consult a doctor before using medicine other than for its intended use, tablets for allergies such as hayfever can be useful to those suffering from colds.
They often contain antihistamines, which in some forms can help decrease the swelling in your nasal passages and prevent you from feeling so stuffed up!
3. Raw Onion and Raw Garlic
Yep, it’s gross, but eating raw onion and garlic can help. You won’t make any friends doing this, but you might get over your cold faster in order to hang out with your old ones.
Cooking onion is thought to strip it of its antimicrobial properties.
4. Dark Chocolate
This isn’t just to make you feel better after scarfing raw onion and garlic, but it might help wtih that too!
The theobromine in dark chocolate can help stop persistent coughs and soothe sore throats.
5. Vitamin C and herbal products
Vitamin C is vital for our health. Vitamin C deficiency is rare in countries like Germany though. Most people tend to get enough vitamin C in their usual diet. Despite this, taking larger amounts of vitamin C in addition to your normal diet is sometimes recommended to treat colds. But studies show that vitamin C products have no effect on symptoms or the time the cold lasts if you start taking them when the cold starts.
Studies have also shown that honey is an effective wound healer, which means it may also help speed healing for sore throats.
8. Licorice Root
9. Sage and Echinacea
Products made from echinacea extracts are also commonly recommended for the treatment of colds. They are thought to strengthen the body’s immune system, but the research on these products has not led to clear conclusions. Products made from the roots of Pelargonium sidoides (known as Umckaloabo or Kaloba) are popular too. There is hardly any research on their effectiveness against colds specifically.
Your recovery from cold or flu will be faster if you maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids during your illness. Remember that healthy eating and drinking is not just about eating the right foods, it’s also about avoiding the wrong ones; steer clear of unhealthy substances including alcohol and caffeine.