Chicken soup and hot tea are effective cold remedies, but can anything actually reduce the length of time cold symptoms linger? Healthy living before the first sniffle strikes is perhaps your best weapon.
So are there any cold remedies that can shorten cold duration? The answer is yes, according to Donald W. Novey, MD, in Poulsbo, Wash., but they may not be what you think.
While some dietary supplements may be able to shorten cold duration, Dr. Novey says supplements aren't your best line of defense. "The best weapon we have against the common cold is our own immune system," he explains.
Good nutrition, adequate sleep and exercise, and low levels of stress are what make our immune system work its best. "A failure on any one of these four points can weaken the immune system and either prolong an existing cold or lead to more frequent ones," Novey says.
Rev Up Your Immune System to Shorten Cold Duration
In the United States, adults can expect to catch the common cold as many as four times a year, while children get anywhere from 6 to 10 colds. Novey says that generally viruses need to run their course, but we can help that course be as short as possible by taking care of our immune system. Here's how:
Get your rest. "When someone gets a cold, by far the most effective remedy is rest," Novey says. "People who are exhausted stay sicker longer, he explains. "
Work out. "Exercise strengthens the immune system," Novey says. In fact, a recent study suggests that people who exercise on a regular basis may have fewer and milder colds. Researchers in North Carolina followed just over 1,000 men and women ages 18 to 85 in the fall and winter and recorded how many upper respiratory infections they caught. The participants reported how much aerobic exercise they did and also answered questions about lifestyle, nutrition, and stress. Those who exercised more days per week reported 46 percent fewer colds.
Eat right. "When one is well, a balanced diet with adequate protein promotes well-being and reduces the chance for catching a cold," Novey says. If you do get a cold, listen to what your stomach is telling you. "The body dictates what it wants: soup, liquids — gentle foods," he notes, adding that ginger tea and the old standby, chicken soup, are cold remedies that provide temporary relief.
De-stress. Novey says the kind of stress that "wears you down" also lowers your resistance to illnesses such as the common cold and may make one hang on longer. Finding a healthy way to cope with chronic stress can help fight off all kinds of illnesses.
Boyle Wheeler, Regina (2013, February 13). Tips to Shorten Cold Duration