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How to recover faster from a cold

Let’s get one thing straight: there’s no way to cure a common cold.

Before you throw your hands up in frustration, rest assured that there are a few steps you can take to give your body the best chance of a speedy recovery.

Most colds will clear up on their own after about seven days, but here are some things to do (and not to do) to help your body recover:

Get plenty of rest

One thing that we know for sure is that your body needs rest to recover from a cold.

Even when you’re healthy and well, there’s a known link between getting enough sleep and having a healthy immune system. When you’re sick, your body needs to direct its efforts towards fighting off infection. Getting plenty of rest is the best way that you can help the process along — that means avoiding exercise, staying home, and relaxing as much as possible.

We all have busy schedules and commitments like work and family, and it can be tempting to push through your discomfort and continue life as usual. Unfortunately, this is likely to make your symptoms worse, and may even drag out your recovery.

If you need a workplace leave certificate, your local Capital Chemist can help. Our pharmacists can issue certificates for short-term, self-limiting conditions that would typically fall into a pharmacists’ scope of practice, which includes common colds. Two days is the maximum length certificate we can issue, and there’s a small fee. All you need to do is visit your local Capital Chemist and speak to your friendly pharmacist.

And remember that it is entirely appropriate to source a COVID-19 test if you have cold symptoms - just to be certain. These can be uncomfortable but it is important because it helps authorities build a picture of where COVID-19 is prevalent or not.

Keep warm

One of the main myths about colds is that they are caused by cold weather. This isn’t the case — colds are caused by viruses — but staying warm can help to provide some relief if you have caught a cold.

There’s some research to suggest that warmth can help to boost the body’s immune response, but we also know that putting on comfy warm pyjamas and snuggling up under a blanket can help to make you comfortable. Comfort is key when you’re riding out a nasty cold!

Limit your contact with others

Colds are highly contagious. The viruses that cause colds are easily spread through droplets of bodily fluids, which are inhaled or spread through touch.

If you’ve caught a cold, you’re all too aware of how unpleasant the symptoms can be. Spare your friends, family, colleagues and community from coming down the cold by keeping your distance and staying home.

In the event that you do need to venture out, be mindful of spreading the virus. Be sure to cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm or into a tissue, regularly wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, and avoid situations where you’re in close contact with others.

Drink plenty of fluids

Dehydration can make your cold symptoms feel much worse, so it’s important to drink lots of fluids while you’re feeling unwell.

Water, tea, warm drinks, broths and soups are all excellent choices. Warm drinks can also help to relieve a sore or itchy throat.

Eat a healthy diet

When you’re feeling poorly, it can be tempting to eat comforting foods. You might also not have much of an appetite.

When you do eat, it’s a good idea to choose foods that are high in nutrients. Eating a nutritious diet is one of the best ways to stay healthy, and this includes maintaining a healthy immune system. Fruit and vegetables are particularly important, and can easily be incorporated into smoothies or soups that have the added benefit of helping you to stay hydrated.

Treat your symptoms

Your pharmacist will be the first to tell you: you can’t cure a cold, but you can treat the symptoms. Whether you’re suffering from a runny or blocked nose, sore throat, headache, or cough, there are lots of different products that can help to soothe your symptoms and provide relief.

Speak to your local Capital Chemist pharmacist to find the right treatment for you and your symptoms.

Consider natural medicines

Let’s be clear: natural medicines or supplements will not cure your cold. However, there is some evidence to suggest that zinc lozenges could shorten the duration of a cold by a couple of days. For zinc to be most effective, it should be taken as soon as you experience symptoms. It’s important to note that zinc is found in some of the foods that we eat, and is also added to supplements, so be careful not to go overboard.

Similarly, research has shown that taking a vitamin C supplement may reduce the duration of cold symptoms for some people, especially older people and those who exercise regularly.

Your Capital Chemist pharmacist can advise whether natural medicines could be right for you.

You may also be interested in the following:

4 Reasons to get the flu vaccination this year
5 ways to reduce your chance of catching the flu


Acknowledgement of Country

Capital Chemist acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.