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How to Get Rid of a Cold in 24 Hours?

cartoon woman laying in bed sick with a thermometer in her mouth

Key Takeaways

  • Despite colds not having a cure, many natural methods can help you feel better faster, such as plenty of rest, warm beverages, saline solutions, cool mist humidifiers, a warm shower, and vitamins and supplements.

  • Several over-the-counter medicines that can help ease common cold symptoms include pain relievers, antihistamines, throat lozenges, saline nasal sprays, and expectorants. 

On average, healthy adults experience 2-3 colds annually, while children face an even higher risk. Like flu viruses, cold viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth, triggering a brief yet uncomfortable illness. The common cold isn’t usually serious. If you're wondering how to get rid of a cold in 24 hours, there are several proactive measures that can speed up the recovery process. 

How do you get rid of a cold in 24 hours?

Despite colds not having a cure, there are many effective methods, both natural remedies and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, that can help you feel better faster. 

Home remedies and cold medicine can dry up a runny nose, help to loosen mucus, reduce nasal congestion, soothe a scratchy throat, and relieve cough. Natural remedies can also bolster immune systems and help in combating other respiratory infections. Here are some tips on getting rid of a cold quickly:

Get plenty of rest

It can be tempting to keep pushing on with work and household chores when you have a simple cold. However, rest is vital to support your immune system and your body’s ability to fight a cold virus. So, if you’re feeling under the weather with cold symptoms, take some time off and relax. 

Get enough sleep

When the body fights infections, sleep is critical for helping it do so. Simply staying in bed with cold symptoms is not enough. It’s important to get enough sleep to get rid of a cold fast. Take naps throughout the day and go to bed early. Enjoy the free pass and catch up on sleep as you recover.

Drink plenty of warm drinks

Staying hydrated is important to flush out a cold virus from your body. Drinks like warm water, warm lemon water with half a teaspoon of honey, warm tea, herbal tea, and chicken soup are all good ways to accomplish this. They help to loosen congestion, soothe sore throats, and calm inflamed mucus membranes. However, avoid very hot tea or other hot liquids, as they can burn your throat. 

Flush out clogged nasal passages

Nasal irrigation or sinus rinsing involves pushing saline solution (salt water) through your nasal passages to flush out mucus, allergens, and debris. Devices such as a neti pot or a squeezable bottle with a rubber bulb can be used to thin and clear mucus and moisten your nasal passages to make breathing easier.

Use a cool mist humidifier

The dry air inside your home in the winter months can irritate a sore throat and blocked nasal passages. A cool mist humidifier can add some moisture to the air and help to thin mucus, thereby providing relief.

Take a warm shower

A warm shower or bath can loosen mucus, relax your muscles, relieve aches and pains, and improve sleep. Consider adding a few drops of essential oil to your bath for a relaxing experience. Avoid taking a very hot shower, however, as it can cause dry and irritated skin. 

Consider taking supplements

There is no strong scientific evidence that supplements can get rid of a cold fast, but it may be worth trying. Increase your vitamin C intake by eating citrus fruits, berries, papayas, red peppers, and broccoli. You can also take a vitamin C supplement. 

You may also consider taking vitamin D, a vitamin your body produces when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Since many people don’t spend enough time outdoors during the colder months, it is common to develop a vitamin D deficiency. 

Talk to your healthcare provider about taking a vitamin D supplement to maximize your immune response and protect against common colds.

Evidence also suggests that taking probiotics can significantly reduce the average duration of an upper respiratory illness, such as the common cold, while also optimizing gut health.

Other supplements that can support the immune system include ginger, garlic, turmeric, zinc, and echinacea. If you’re looking for more natural ways to get back on your feet faster, consider eating pumpkin seeds, fresh ginger, honey, chicken soup, and bone broth, which are packed with nutrients.

Category Supplement Benefits
Vitamins and Minerals Vitamin C Boosts immune function and may reduce the duration of colds.
  Vitamin D Plays a role in immune health. Deficiency may increase infection risk.
  Zinc Supports immune function and may reduce the severity of symptoms.
Herbal Supplements Echinacea May reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms.
  Elderberry Contains antioxidants and may help reduce flu symptoms.
  Garlic Possesses antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Amino Acids Lysine Believed to inhibit viral replication and reduce cold sore symptoms.
Probiotics Probiotics Support gut health and may enhance the immune response.

Practice good hand hygiene

The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of the importance of washing our hands frequently and properly. This simple practice can help prevent colds, reduce the severity of the illness if you are already sick, and prevent infectious diseases from spreading to others in your family.

Stay home

If you have cold or flu symptoms, it’s important to stay home. This not only gives you an opportunity to get some much-needed rest but also protects others from getting infected.

What is the best OTC to get rid of sore throat and cold symptoms?

Home remedies can certainly help to relieve cold symptoms. However, if you’re looking for something stronger or more convenient, there are several over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that can help ease common cold symptoms. 

Remember, while cold medicine can make your symptoms less severe, it may not help you get rid of a cold in 24 hours. Here are some treatment options for the common cold:

  • Acetaminophen is an effective over-the-counter fever reducer and painkiller. Make sure you check the appropriate dosage for children. Never give a child OTC medications formulated for adults. 

  • Pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) can help reduce common cold symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, and sore throat. Note: Many cold medicines contain similar ingredients. Be sure to check the contents of all your cold medications so that you don’t overdose on a pain reliever.

  • Antihistamines such as chlorpheniramine (Sudafed Plus), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and doxylamine (in Nyquil) can help with symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. 

  • Throat lozenges like zinc lozenges can soothe an irritated, painful, or sore throat.

  • A saline nasal spray or decongestant can help with a stuffy nose. Check how long it is safe to use a nasal spray. Overuse can lead to worsening congestion.

  • An expectorant can help make mucus thinner, looser, and easier to clear.

Compare decongestants vs antihistamines.

Note: Avoid taking antibiotics for the common cold. This is a viral illness, and antibiotics will not help. On the other hand, unnecessary use of antibiotics can give rise to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat bacterial infections in the future. 

What are the symptoms of a common cold?

A common cold and flu are viral infections that cause similar symptoms, such as a blocked nose, nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, headache, muscle aches, body aches, fever, sinus pressure, and changes in taste and smell.

How long do cold and flu symptoms usually last?

A common cold typically lasts 7 to 10 days. Staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, and taking over-the-counter medications can help to relieve symptoms and make the illness less distressful.

What are the 5 stages of a cold?

The five stages of a cold are:

  • Incubation period: This is the time between exposure to the virus and the appearance of cold symptoms.

  • Appearance and progression of symptoms: Cold symptoms usually pick up steam on day 1 and are typically worse on days 2 and 3 of the illness.

  • Remission: This is the period when symptoms begin to alleviate. It typically occurs between days 3 and 10 of the infection.

  • Recovery: Most people recover from a common cold in 7-10 days. Children can take longer, up to 14 days, for a full recovery.

How do you get rid of a cold overnight?

It can be challenging to get rid of a cold in 24 hours or overnight. The common cold is a viral infection, and the immune system needs time to fight off the cold virus. However, there are many cold and flu remedies that can help you feel better and recover faster. 

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  1. https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html#

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054664/

  3. https://www.uclahealth.org/news/risks-and-rewards-of-nasal-rinses-what-you-need-to-know#: