Does alcohol kill cold virus


It is a common belief that alcohol can kill the cold virus. While it’s true that alcohol has germicidal properties, meaning it can kill some types of germs on contact, it’s not effective when it comes to cold viruses. In fact, drinking alcohol when you have a cold can make your symptoms worse and even increase your risk of other illnesses.

Read on to learn more about the effects of alcohol on cold viruses and why experts suggest abstaining while you have a cold or flu.

What is the cold virus?

The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract which is caused by rhinoviruses, coronaviruses and other viruses. Symptoms can include a runny nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing and a fever. It is one of the most frequently occurring illnesses and is typically spread through contact with an infected person.

While alcohol does not kill the cold virus, it may help reduce symptoms. Let’s explore further.

Symptoms of the common cold

The common cold is caused by fully-contagious viruses that cause inflammation of the upper respiratory system, leading to various symptoms. Symptoms of a cold may include nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, sneezing, and a decrease in appetite. In some cases, sufferers may also experience body aches and fatigue or a fever that can last from one to three days. Additionally, swollen lymph nodes are sometimes present and can be felt in the neck and under the armpits.

While these symptoms can present themselves as minor inconveniences for adults, they are often more serious for infants and young children who might not be able to recognize the signs on their own.

It’s important to take precautions when diagnosing a cold in children as certain symptoms—such as difficulty breathing or persistent coughing—could indicate other illnesses and require medical attention. If your child suddenly experiences any unusual signs or severity of symptoms while sick with what you think is a common cold, you should follow up with your doctor right away.

How the cold virus spreads

The cold virus can be spread by direct contact with an infected person or indirectly, through contact with objects and surfaces that have been contaminated. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, they will release droplets of mucus and saliva that can spread the cold virus through the air. This means that the infection can be quickly passed on to those in close proximity.

In addition to transmitting germs through direct contact with an infected person, you may also be exposed to the cold virus if you come into contact with objects and surfaces such as door handles, telephones and computer keyboards. Cold viruses can survive on these objects for up to 48 hours. Furthermore, a person who is already infected may not always show symptoms of the virus but will still be capable of spreading it to others for up to three days after feeling ill.

Cold viruses cannot survive in extreme temperatures so exposure to hot water or steam (e.g from a hot shower) is not thought to increase the risk of catching a cold. Additionally, some studies suggest that drinking alcohol does not kill viruses either – it can only act as a disinfectant if applied directly on skin or external surfaces affected by the disease-causing organisms.

Does alcohol kill cold virus?

Cold viruses are very common, and they can cause a wide range of symptom from a sore throat to a stuffy nose. It can be difficult to get rid of colds, but many people wonder if alcohol can be used to kill the virus. In this article, we will discuss whether alcohol can kill cold virus and the effects it may have on the body.

How alcohol works against viruses

The common cold is caused by viruses, so alcohol does have a certain effect on them. In laboratory experiments, highest proof ethanol has demonstrated some effect on destroying enveloped viruses like the cold virus, though the same can’t be said for non-enveloped viruses.

Alcohol can disrupt the surface proteins of an enveloped virus and prevent it from infecting a cell. While this would make it look like alcohol kills off the virus particles themselves, other mechanisms are at work here as well. Since alcohol affects surface proteins, that means it affects how these proteins interact with the cell membranes they come into contact with. When alcohol is applied to cells that carry a viral infection, they become less capable of allowing that virus to attach to its host and move inside.

It is important to note however, that any antiviral effects of alcohol must also be balanced against its potential toxicity when taken in high concentrations or when mixed with other substances like energy drinks or nutrition supplements. Further research needs to be conducted in order for a full understanding of how effective ethanol could be in killing off cold viruses and other similar microorganisms.

Is alcohol an effective treatment for the common cold?

Maintaining healthy habits and adhering to the guidance of a medical professional are the best methods for controlling cold and flu symptoms. Alcohol, however, is not an effective treatment option for the common cold. While it is true that alcohol has disinfectant properties and can possibly kill germs on contact, drinking too much alcohol can induce dehydration and other health risks. Therefore, consuming alcoholic beverages to cure a cold is not recommended by medical professionals.

Some studies suggest that moderate amounts of alcohol may have overall positive effects on health if consumed in moderation. However, particularly during sickness, drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of experiencing adverse side effects. For example, an individual suffering from a cold or the flu may experience worsened dehydration symptoms after consuming high levels of alcohol because it is a diuretic (except beer).

Furthermore, developing an immunity to illnesses like colds and flus is what will make them better over time. Behaviors like

  • frequent hand-washing to reduce exposure to germs
  • increased consumption of fluids

should be taken as precautionary steps for treating minor illnesses due to their effectiveness in reducing exposure to pathogens associated with respiratory diseases or infections such as the common cold virus (rhinovirus).

Other treatments for the common cold

While there is no cure for the common cold, there are treatments available that can help reduce symptoms and discomfort. Treatments can include drinking lots of fluids, taking pain relievers, using a humidifier, and getting plenty of rest and sleep. In this article, we will look at other treatments for the common cold and explore if alcohol is one of them.

Over-the-counter medications

Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin IB) or naproxen (Aleve), antihistamines, decongestants and pain relievers may be beneficial for relieving your symptoms. Antihistamines can help to relieve sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose, and watery eyes. Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, can assist in lessening congestion. Cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan can help to control a persistent cough.

Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medications depending on your specific symptoms. For instance, if you have a sore throat they might suggest lozenges or sore throat sprays. Additionally, saline nasal drops may help to thin out chest congestion in babies and children.

Speak with your physician before taking any of these medications individually or in combination for optimal results in treating the common cold.

Home remedies

Although there is no cure for the common cold, home remedies can help to relieve the symptoms that accompany it. Some of these treatments are thought to work by thinning your mucus, helping you to expel more easily out through your nose and mouth. Common home remedies include:

  • Gargling with warm salt water: Adding a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and stirring until completely dissolved can reduce swelling and moisten irritated tissues in the throat. Gargling with salt water can help break up phlegm and soothe irritation in the throat caused by coughing or sneezing.
  • Drinking hot liquids: Hot beverages like herbal teas containing honey and lemon, soups, or hot apple cider can comfort breathing passages while also providing added hydration that helps keep your nasal secretions thin and mobile. For an adult, adding a shot of alcohol can provide relief for some cold symptoms.
  • Using nasal irrigation: Using a saline solution (one teaspoon of uniodized salt dissolved in eight ounces of lukewarm boiled water) or using an over-the-counter saline sinus rinse kit, irrigating your nose with the solution 2–3 times per day can flush away bacteria, viruses, pollen and other irritants stuck in your sinuses which helps minimize sinus pain as well as postnasal drip.
  • Taking echinacea or zinc supplements: Taking echinacea is thought to stimulate the immune system while zinc may interfere with cold virus replication making them helpful supplements when taken at the onset of cold symptoms; however they have had mixed results when taken on a regular basis over time to prevent infection.


In conclusion, the answer to the question of whether alcohol kills cold virus is a resounding yes. Alcohol has demonstrated to be an effective antiviral agent against common viruses that cause colds, like Rhinovirus, Influenza A and B, Respiratory Syncytial Virus and many others. While it won’t cure your cold outright or prevent you from ever catching one again, it is an effective way to help kill these germs outside of your body.

Therefore, if you are looking for an additional way to stay healthy during cold and flu season – consider using 70% proof alcohol-based products as part of your cleaning regimen.