How Can I Cure My Cold?

Colds are caused by a virus called rhinovirus.


Nothing to do with big, leathery beasts you see at the zoo - rhino comes from the Greek word for 'nose'!


Vitamin C doesn't stop you getting the cold, but a healthy diet does help protect us against getting the cold

See your doctor immediately if...

See your doctor straight away, or call NHS 24 on 111 if:

  • you get chest pains
  • it gets hard to breathe
  • you get pain in the inside of your ear
  • you get major pain in your sinus (inside your forehead and behind your nose and eyes)
  • your cold goes on for more than two weeks.

Can I treat my cold myself?

There's no 'cure' for the cold, so it's mostly a case of toughing it out and waiting until your body wins the battle against the bugs.

Get as much rest as you can, eat well, and avoid smoking and smoky places.

To make yourself feel better in the meantime, you can try:

Decongestant sprays or pills

These help with the blocked nose and can help you feel a bit more lively too. Just think twice before taking decongestants in pill form before bed - they might keep you awake. Ask your chemist about decongestants.

Throat lozenges

These can help with croaky sore throat woes. Lozenges with menthol in them might help clear your hooter a bit too.


Inhaling steam from a basin or bowl can ease a blocked nose or sinuses. If you put menthol or pine oil in the water, these can help ease a blocked nose. Be careful though - steam can burn.

A safer way is to sit in the bathroom while you run the bath. Getting in a warm bath could help with the aches as too.

Over-the-counter painkillers

Aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen can help with fevers and aches and pains. Always read the instructions first, though, and ask your chemist if in any doubt.