What Is the Best Way to Get Rid of a Common Cold?

Ask a Doctor

I came down with a cold two weeks ago and it seems there’s no end in sight. I’ve been taking all the standard over-the-counter cold medicine for my symptoms, but I’m still coughing and sniffling. Is there anything more I can do to end this cold? What is the best way to get rid of a common cold?

Doctor’s Response

Most treatments for the common cold help relieve symptoms but they cannot shorten the duration of the cold or get rid of it. Cold symptoms will go away on their own over time.

Viruses cause the common cold, so antibiotics are not an effective treatment. Home remedies and treatments that can help relieve the symptoms of the common cold include:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Cold drinks can help soothe a sore throat and hot beverages can help break up mucus.
  • Rest. Take it easy and get plenty of sleep.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Take a hot shower. The steam may help open nasal passages and loosen congestion.
  • Pain relievers and fever reducers including acetaminophen (Tylenol) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motril, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can help with fever, body ache, headache, and sore throat.
  • Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and oxymetazoline (Afrin Nasal Spray) can help relieve nasal congestion. Do not use decongestant nasal sprays for more than 2 to 3 days.
  • Saline nasal spray can help relieve runny nose, nasal congestion, and dry nasal passages.
  • Antihistamines can help dry up a runny nose.
  • Cough medicines can help reduce cough

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Patricia Solo-Josephson, MD. Colds. June 2017. The Nemours Foundation. 12 November 2018 .

Sexton, MD, Daniel J and Micah T McClain, MD, PhD. Patient education: The common cold in adults (Beyond the Basics). 25 January 2018. 12 November 2018 .