If holiday get-togethers with the family left you sneezing and hacking, you don’t have to suffer. Grandma might have been on to something with her home remedies.
Soothing the common cold can be as easy as gargling with saltwater and spooning down the chicken soup. Here are the 10 best cold remedies to try at home that will have you feeling better before you know it.
1. DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS
The American Lung Association recommends drinking eight glasses of water or juice per day when trying to get rid of a common cold. Staying hydrated helps moisturize the lining of the nose and throat, which makes mucus easier to clear. But be sure to avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, as they can cause dehydration. Also, after eight glasses of water you’ll want to stay near the bathroom.
2. USE AN AIR HUMIDIFIER
You can also help keep nasal and throat passages moist by using an air humidifier, particularly in the winter months when heating makes the air inside your home very dry. In the old days mom would put a pot of water on the stove to boil.
3. TRY A NETI POT
It’s not as gross as it sounds, pouring warm water through your nose, and it helps prevent nasal dryness. A neti pot, a nose-rinsing device, can be found in drug and health-food stores, sometimes near the Chia Pets. Take it home (the neti pot, not the Chia pet), fill it with a saline (saltwater) solution and insert it into one nostril while tilting your to the side to allow the solution to flow up the nasal passage and out the other nostril.
4. EAT CHICKEN SOUP
The old adage about chicken soup being good for a cold is practically as old as the common cold itself. But it turns out there’s some truth to what your grandmother has been telling you all these years. Here’s authoritative proof: “Chicken soup is nice for the common cold because it loosens up your mucus,” says Norman Edelman, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. Besides, it tastes good.
5. TAKE ECHINACEA
Some people swear by it, but not everyone can pronounce it. Evidence is mixed on the effects of echinacea on the common cold, but some experts say it can be helpful. “Echinacea does not prevent infection, but trials for the treatment of upper respiratory conditions have shown a reduction in duration of symptoms with echinacea,” says Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, of Georgetown University.
6. REACH FOR SOME ZINC LOZENGES
Like echinacea, the mineral zinc gets mixed marks when being assessed for its effectiveness against the common cold. “I have not seen any evidence for prevention,” says Dr. Fugh-Berman, “but there is some evidence that intranasal zinc (zinc nasal sprays) or zinc in the form of lozenges can decrease the symptoms of a common cold.”
7. TAKE VITAMIN C
It’s up there with chicken soup as far as legendary cold remedies go, and there might be some truth to vitamin C being helpful as well. Some evidence shows that it can reduce the duration and severity of a common cold.
8. GIVE YOUR NOSE A MASSAGE
Research shows that massaging an acupuncture point known as yingxiang, located at the lower border of the nostril, can provide relief from nasal congestion.
9. GARGLE WITH WATER
A recent study in which participants gargled with water three times a day found that the ritual can help prevent upper respiratory tract infections. So gargle away, before that common cold gets any worse. Besides, it’s fun.
10. STOCK YOUR MEDICINE CABINET
Not exactly a home remedy in the traditional sense, but there’s no denying that over-the-counter (OTC) cold remedies can provide temporary relief. The American Lung Association recommends that these medications be taken as soon as common cold symptoms arise. If you have high blood pressure, though, talk to your doctor about any OTC cold medications you should avoid.
Antibiotics are almost never needed to treat a common cold. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) help lower fever and relieve muscle aches. But call your provider if you need to take these medicines more than four times per day or for more than two or three days.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. To feel better, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest.