How to Get Rid of a Cold Fast

Man with a cold sneezing

You know that moment you first suspect that a cold is coming on—that touch of scratchy or sore throat. You try to ignore it, or maybe you up your intake of vitamin C. But in no time you’ve got a runny nose or constant sneezing too. Darn it! You’ve come down with a cold. And, sadly, there is no cure for it. So, the question now is, how do you get rid of your cold fast?

Because having a cold can disrupt your life and make you feel miserable few days, even weeks. And who has time for that? Btw, if you have a cold longer than that, you might actually be dealing with hay fever or an allergy.

So what can you do to get back to being healthy feeling like yourself as quickly as possible? The short answer: drink fluid, rest, keep the air around you moist, and wash your hands frequently. This article takes a deeper look at how to get rid of a cold fast—because every day counts! We also give a few tips on medicines to help you feel more comfortable while your immune system does its job.

In this post:

  • How to get rid of a cold fast
  • How to relieve cold symptoms
  • Alternative cold remedies
  • Cold remedies to avoid
  • Cold Dos & Dont’s
  • Cold medicine toolkit

How to get rid of a cold fast

  1. Stay Hydrated. The best way to cure a cold fast is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids help to loosen congestion and keep your throat moist. Opt for water, herbal teas, clear broths, and electrolyte-rich drinks to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Avoid drinks that can dry you out like alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas.
  2. Rest Up. Take the day off. Take naps, go to bed early, and avoid overexerting yourself. Rest is essential when you’re battling a head cold. Your body needs time to recuperate and focus its energy on fighting off the infection. 
  3. Steam Up. Take a hot shower or fill a bowl with hot water, place a towel over your head, and inhale the steam for a few minutes. Steam therapy can help clear out mucus and ease breathing, making you feel more comfortable.
  4. Use a Humidifier. Add moisture to the air with a clean humidifier. This can help keep lubricate your nasal passages and prevent them from drying out, and make it easier for you to breath with a stuffy nose.
  5. Wash you Hands. When you are sick with the cold, your immune system is already busy fighting off one illness. Do your body a favour by keeping your hands clean and not introducing additional germs into your system. You will also help stop the spread of your cold to others. 

How to relieve cold symptoms

For your sore throat

Gargle with salt Water. Mix a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and gargle with it several times a day. If you’re dealing with a sore throat, this can provide relief and help reduce inflammation by helping to flush out bacteria and viruses.

You can also take throat lozenges or sprays containing ingredients such as menthol or benzocaine can help soothe a sore throat and provide temporary relief from pain and irritation.

For your fever

Take Pain Relievers and fever reducers like ibuprofen or paracetamol to help reduce fever and relieve aches and pains. 

For your stuffy nose

Nasal decongestant sprays or tablets containing ingredients such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine can help relieve nasal congestion and sinus pressure caused by a cold. These medications work by constricting blood vessels in the nasal passages, reducing swelling and congestion.

For your sneezing

Antihistamine medications like loratadine or cetirizine can help relieve symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes caused by allergies or colds. These medications work by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical released by the immune system in response to allergens or viral infections.

For your cough

Cough suppressant medications containing dextromethorphan can help alleviate dry, non-productive coughs associated with colds. These medications work by suppressing the cough reflex in the brain, reducing the urge to cough.

Expectorant medications containing guaifenesin can help thin mucus and make it easier to cough up, which can help relieve chest congestion and promote drainage of mucus from the airways.

Cold medicine tool kit
For most cold sufferers, we recommend you have the following over-the-counter (OTC) or shop medicines on hand:
Benylin Chesty Coughs (non-drowsy) - 150ml

Benylin Chesty Coughs (non-drowsy) – 150ml

Benylin Chesty Coughs is a remedy that effectively addresses chesty coughs. The syrup contains the active ingredients guaifenesin and levomenthol. Guaifenesin is an expectorant that promotes the expulsion of sputum and facilitating the breakdown of the blockage. Levomenthol aids in nasal decongestion, promoting comfortable breathing.

Contac Non-Drowsy Cold & Flu Dual Relief - 18 Tablets

Contac Non-Drowsy Cold & Flu Dual Relief – 18 Tablets

Contac Dual Relief tablets are a treatment option for cold and flu symptoms that won’t make you drowsy. These tablets can help to reduce common symptoms, such as headaches, stuffy runny nose, and sore throats.

Deep Freeze Pain Relief Cold Patch - 1 Patch

Deep Freeze Pain Relief Cold Patch – 1 Patch

Deep Freeze Pain Relief Cold Patch works rapidly like ice, delivering an instant burst of cooling pain relief to the affected or swollen area. 

Olbas Oil Inhalant Decongestant - 12ml

Olbas Oil Inhalant Decongestant – 12ml

Olbas Oil Inhalant Decongestant is a mixture of essential plant oils used to relieve nasal and bronchial congestion caused by colds, the flu, sinus infections, allergies, and hay fever. It can be inhaled from a tissue or from vapour created by adding to hot water, or rubbed on the skin to reduce muscular pain. Directions for use vary with age. 

Sudafed Decongestant Liquid - 100ml

Sudafed Decongestant Liquid – 100ml

This Sudafed Decongestant Liquid helps alleviate nasal congestion that is caused by a cold or flu, as well as catarrh, which is the accumulation of mucus in the nose, chest, or throat.

Difflam Sore Throat Rinse - 200ml

Difflam Sore Throat Rinse – 200ml

Difflam Sore Throat Rinse is a liquid treatment that provides local relief from pain and inflammation in the throat and mouth. It contains the active ingredient benzydamine hydrochloride, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) with local anesthetic properties. It can be swished around the mouth or gargled like a mouthwash to ease discomfort. 

Ibuprofen 200mg - 24 Tablets

Ibuprofen 200mg – 24 Tablets

Ibuprofen 200mg Tablets are a Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID) used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain such as period pain, nerve pain, headaches, rheumatic and muscular pain, arthritis, fever, and cold and flu symptoms. 

Crescent Paracetamol 500mg - 32 Caplets

Crescent Paracetamol 500mg – 32 Caplets

Crescent Paracetamol 500mg Caplets provide effective relief for mild to moderate pain, including headaches, sore throats, migraines, toothache, period pains, and neuralgia.

Alternative cold remedies

The major problem with some alternative remedies is that they can interfere with other medicines you are taking, making them ineffective or cause dangerous interactions. For this reason, be sure to talk to a medical provider before taking them. 

Vitamin C

Results of studies on Vitamin C vary, but taking at least 1g of vitamin C per day may help stave off colds and reduce symptom by 1 to 2 days. It is cheap, safe, and simple to use.


People have used varieties of echinacea for centuries to boost their immune symptoms. Nevertheless, results of currents studies about echinacea and colds are moderate to mixed, and do not suggest that it helps change the course of the common cold


Ginseng is one of the most popular natural ways to treat and prevent colds. And there has been some recent research to back up its ability to help boost the immune system. However, more studies need to be made to prove it works. 

Cold remedies to avoid


For colds caused by viruses, antibiotic will not do anything to help you get well faster. In fact, they may disrupt the good bacteria working to keep you healthy and contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


Children should avoid aspirin for a cold due to the risk of developing a rare but serious condition called Reye’s syndrome. Give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen instead.


The results of studies about zinc and it’s ability to fight the cold virus are mixed. There is no guarantee that it will make you feel better faster, and it can have some serious side-affects. 

Cold Dos & Don’ts

Stay hydrated, drink lots of waterDon’t drink caffein or caffeinated beverages that might dry you out
Get plenty of restDon’t overexert yourself or miss out on sleep
Keep the air around you moist, use a humidifier and take a hot shower or bathDon’t forget to clean the humidifier, you don’t want to be inhaling dirty air or mold
Wash your hands frequentlyDon’t touch your eyes, mouth or nose with your fingers
Gargle with salt water for a sore throatDon’t take alternative remedies without talking to a medical provider first
Take paracetamol or ibuprofen for fever and body achesDon’t give aspirin to children or teens
Take an antihistamine for sneezing and runny noseDon’t take antibiotics for a viral cold

Main takeaways

  • There is no cure for the common cold
  • The best way to get over a cold fast is to help your immune system fight the cold virus
  • Staying hydrated, get rest, creating a humid environment and washing your hands are the best thing you can do to help your body fight a cold
  • Antibiotics will not help you fight your cold
  • Alternative remedies might help but there is not enough evidence available yet to support their use, and they can be dangerous if there interfere with other medication


Can Fam Physician (2011). Complementary and alternative medicine for prevention and treatment of the common cold

Barrett, B. et al (2010). Echinacea for treating the common cold: a randomized trial

Science, M. et al (2012). Zinc for the treatment of the common cold: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials


PillSorted is a full service pharmacy that delivers trusted pharmacy products, over-the counter medications, and the prescriptions your doctor recommends for your lice treatment, directly to your door. Your PillSorted pharmacist is happy to answer your questions about the common cold and treatments at 033 4050380 or help@pillsorted.com.

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