Home remedies for the common cold

Learn some great remedies for a cold using products you have in your house

Next time you or your child or suffering from a cold, consider skipping the pharmacy and trying some of these simple cold remedies you can do with things you probably already have at home. You may just find yourself feeling better, recovering more quickly and you’ll avoid the risks or cost of over the counter cold medications.

Perhaps the number one most important measure to take when fighting a cold, this is also one of the simplest. Making sure you consume adequate liquids is absolutely key to fending off the cold bug so you should make sure you’re consuming no less than ten eight-ounce glasses of water (or the equivalent in juice, tea, etc.) every day. Some of the best ways to get in those fluids include: weak juice or sports drinks, hot water with lemon and honey, herbal teas and ginger ale. Chicken broth, or other thin brothy soup, is another great way to hydrate and hot liquids also help relieve nasal congestion. Drinks to avoid include coffee, black tea, caffeinated soft drinks and alcohol (though a single shot of whiskey or tequila with hot water, honey and lemon has been known to work wonders at bedtime). These drinks, especially in excess, will have a diuretic effect and can actually dehydrate you.
Run a cloth under very hot water, wring out and lay it over the bridge of your nose or over your eyes to help relieve congested or painful sinuses.
Keep your body’s energy reserved as much as possible for fighting your infection by keeping warm and rested. If you don’t have the luxury of being able to sleep all day, do make sure you’re bundled up and are able to avoid too much physical exertion. When you do sleep, try propping up your head, or even your whole upper body, in bed, to help promote drainage or mucus and relieve nasal congestion.
To ease the pain of a scratchy or sore throat, mix up a half-teaspoon of table salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for 10 seconds. Repeat as necessary.
Nasal drops and sprays
Saline solutions are recommended for adults, children and infants alike. Cleaning out sinuses with salt water can help with nasal congestion by flushing out unwanted material. Try mixing a quarter teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of baking soda and eight ounces of warm water. With a bulb syringe, squirt the mixture into one nostril, let it drain into the sink, then squirt into the other. Repeat a few times with each nostril, three times a day.
Cold medicines often contain the essential mineral, zinc, because of its reported (though not definitively proven) efficacy in relieving cold symptoms and potentially even decreasing the severity or duration of a cold. Zinc is a mineral we consume every day, which occurs naturally in many foods we eat, like eggs, meat and seafood. The recommended daily allowance of zinc for women is 12 mg and 15 mg for men. Upping your zinc intake by taking zinc lozenges when you have a cold may not necessarily help, but, in moderation, it won’t hurt either.
An age old solution of coughs, sore throats and other cold symptoms, there is little definitive evidence that honey truly relieves these symptoms, but there’s no doubt it can have a soothing effect for some people. Mixed with herbal tea or simply hot water with lemon, it can coat and soothe irritated throats.
Honey is not recommended for babies younger than one year of age.
Ginger root
Treat coughs, runny noses, headaches, and neck and shoulder aches with this pungent root. Hot ginger tea with honey and lemonis a popular home cold remedy for these symptoms and sore throats.
While not scientifically proven, many people swear by garlic’s antiseptic and antispasmodic properties, and its ability to clear sinuses. It should be eaten raw, boiled in water as tea or cooked (in large quantities) in soup. Like many other home cold remedies, it may not necessarily relieve you of all your cold symptoms, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Place a humidifier in the room where you sleep, and where you spend time during the day if possible, to keep the air around you moist. The cold virus thrives in a dry atmosphere, so help your immune system in its fight by remaining in a humid environment that’s inhospitable to the virus. Make sure you change the water in the humidifier frequently and consider adding a drop of eucalyptus oil to the water. Placing your face directly over a bowl of hot water, with a towel draped over your head and the bowl creates a mini sauna for your sinuses and can be tremendously helpful in relieving nasal congestion. Breathe deeply over the bowl until the water cools down, repeat as necessary. Hot showers have the same effect, so treat yourself to an extra long hot shower in the morning and before bed.
Blow your nose
Do it often and do it right. Keep your sinuses clear of all that gunk by blowing gently, one nostril at a time, all the time. Sniffling this discharge back up into your sinuses will only prolong your infection and potentially worsen it.
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Categories: Cold

Michelle Spatz, Amanda Maynes

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