7 best cold & flu remedies to fight the ‘super cold’
Reviewed and fact-checked by Giulia Guerrini, Superintendent Pharmacist. Read our editorial policy to see how we create informative, accurate content.
Heard of the ‘Super Cold’? Sounds like a really terrible cartoon villain, but it’s actually just a term for a very contagious bug that seems to be resistant to normal ‘common cold’ cures and hits you a bit harder. With making sure we’re keeping our distance, wearing masks, using antibacterial gel and washing our hands better than ever, we’ve kept the common cold at bay for a while – so this could be the first cold you’ve had all year. Some experts think that by keeping common colds away for a while, we’re less equipped to fight them off and that’s why it seems to be worse, but there’s not much data to support this.
But what we do know – thanks to our expert Superintendent Pharmacist, Giulia – is how to take care of your cold symptoms if you’re going through them, with a few cold and flu remedies to help (and we can even give some comfort television watching recommendations if you want, too).
1. First of all… check you have it
It might sound obvious after the past two years, but first thing’s first – make sure you’re dealing with the ‘super cold’ vs COVID-19. If you’re showing common cold symptoms that could match either (like sore throat, runny nose, loss of taste and smell, cough etc.) then you’ll want to take a lateral flow test to check if it’s a cold or COVID, even if you’re vaccinated. You can get these for free at your local pharmacy if you don’t have them to hand already.
2. Have a steamy shower or a hot, relaxing bath
Nothing feels better when you’re feeling sick than a nice, hot shower… and there’s actually a reason for that. Taking a steamy shower (or hot bath) helps with cold symptoms by relaxing any muscle aches you’re experiencing, while also helping to moisten sinus passages and ease nasal congestion. Giulia says,
P.S. You know that ‘eucalyptus hanging in the shower’ trend you’ve seen on TikTok? Turns out, the steam from the shower releases eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil can act as an anti-inflammatory, which means inhaling it can help to open up your airways – so we can recommend giving it a go if you have nasal congestion or a runny nose!
"If you’re taking a bath, try adding some aromatic bath salts like BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Mineral Bath Flakes 1kg to soothe your cold headache and open your airways. They can help you sleep better too, and rest is great for recovery."
3. Gargle salt water or paracetamol
If you’ve got cold symptoms like a really sore throat from coughing or just inflamed glands, you’ll want to clear that up as quickly as possible with home remedies for cough and cold. Try gargling warm, salty water (about half a teaspoonful) a few times a day, or try gargling soluble paracetamol such as Accord Paracetamol 500mg Effervescent 24 Tablets or Zentiva Paracetamol 500mg Soluble 100 Tablets.
"One of the great cold and flu remedies of gargling salty water can help to loosen mucus, while gargling soluble paracetamol can help to relieve any pain you’re experiencing – so give both a try!"
4. Stay hydrated
An oldie but a goodie, this advice helps you to replace any fluids you might lose while you have a cold or flu. Drink lots of water (especially if you’re feverish), which can help to loosen mucus – and you should get some electrolytes in there, too.
"We often take water for granted but staying hydrated is key for a speedy recovery from a cold or flu, as often when we’re sick we lose fluids and electrolytes that our body needs. As well as drinking plain water, I recommend taking 1 sachet of Dioralyte Natural 6 Sachets a day, which will help to replenish all the essential electrolytes you need to feel better."
5. Try hot drinks, too
Bowl of chicken soup, anyone? It’s one of the classic cold and flu remedies, but really any hot liquid is effective at tackling a bad cold; the heat of the liquid helps your body to clear out mucus, which ultimately helps fight against the symptoms of the cold virus.
Giulia’s hot (literally) tip?
"Try mixing freshly ground ginger and lemon into a hot drink – it does wonders!"
6. Don’t forget to eat well (or take vitamin C)
This is more of a preventative action to stop yourself catching the cold virus rather than treating one. Making sure that you eat lots of prebiotics – fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, for example – will help strengthen your immune system to fight back against a cold and flu. Taking extra vitamin C (either by eating fruit like strawberries and citrus fruits or taking handy supplements) can help to shorten the length of time you have cold symptoms, too.
"Vitamin C is an important nutrient that’s essential for our immune system cells to work. The form Ester-C, found in supplements like Solgar Ester-C Plus 1000mg Vitamin C 30 Tablets, is apparently better absorbed and flushed away less quickly. Or you can kill two birds with one stone and take soluble Vitamin C instead, like Higher Nature Vitamin C Effervescent 20 Tablets, so you also stay hydrated!"
7. Fight back with over-the-counter options
This is what cold and flu tablets and medication was made for – so don’t hesitate to start taking them if you need to. Try cold and flu medicine which combines paracetamol with a nasal decongestant and cough suppressants, like Day and Night Nurse: they’ll work to relieve your cold symptoms fast. You also might want to try a nasal decongestant spray that will help to clear your blocked nose, such as oxymetazoline hydrochloride.
"I personally prefer all in one cold and flu tablets when I have a cold, as often colds leave you with a sore throat and swallowing multiple tablets can be tricky. Day & Night Nurse 24 Capsules or Lemsip Max Day & Night 24 Capsules both contain a decongestant ingredient. If you can’t swallow at all, try liquid and powder versions, like Night Nurse Liquid 160ml and Day Nurse Liquid 240ml or Lemsip Max Cold and Flu Lemon 10 Sachets, instead.
If you take cold and flu medicine, you won’t need a medicated spray on top, but you can still pair it with a natural spray like Olbas Nasal Spray Decongestant 20ml. If you’re just taking paracetamol and prefer using a nasal decongestant spray, go for Sudafed – such as Sudafed Sinus Ease Spray 15ml – but remember: never use it for longer than 7 days, or it will cause the so-called rebound effect and make your symptoms worse."
Need some cold and flu medicine? We’ve got what you’re looking for – and we’ll get it to you fast. Order before 8pm on weekdays, and we’ll have your health-boosting medicine to you tomorrow.