HEALTH: Beating a cold

At some point, almost everyone gets a cold and adults can expect to get about two colds per year. Colds are caused by a virus, which means an antibiotic is not an effective treatment. Although a cold is usually not dangerous, it can leave a person feeling awful.

There is currently no cure for a cold but there are a number of home remedies that may help you to cope with the symptoms. Symptoms like a sore throat, nasal congestion, coughing and aches and pains. The home remedies we are going to recommend do not have any side effects, so even if they only offer limited help, they will not do any harm.


1. Gargling: This old-school remedy can ease a sore throat, which is often one of the first symptoms of a cold. Choose from a variety of saltwater gargle recipes, including gargling with 1 teaspoon of salt mixed in a cup of warm water. Another option is gargling with warm water that is mixed with half a teaspoon of lemon juice and honey. With any gargling solutions, people should be sure that the water is not too hot, which can lead to burns.

2. Sipping fluids: Drinking plenty of fluids can help prevent dehydration and may thin mucus. Water is the best bet when it comes to staying well hydrated. Other liquids such as juice are also acceptable. Tea with lemon and honey and other hot drinks may help break up congestion and ease a sore throat. Hot soup, especially spicy soups, may promote nasal drainage and make breathing easier. People who have a cold should avoid alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration.

3. Steam: Breathing in steam from a hot shower may decrease nasal congestion and sinus pressure, at least temporarily. An alternative to a hot shower is filling a pot with boiling water, placing a towel over the head and breathing in the steam. Steam soothes the tissues of the nose and throat and to make steam inhalation even more effective, people can consider adding eucalyptus, which is an essential oil. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy suggest adding 3 to 7 dropsof eucalyptus oil to boiling water and inhaling the steam through the nose.

4. Blowing the nose correctly:  It’s important to blow the nose correctly in order to clear the nasal passages as much as possible. Sniffing mucus back up can force it into the ears and lead to an earache. To blow the nose correctly, people should block one nostril and gently blow into a tissue, then switch and block the opposite nostril and blow.

5. Using a humidifier: A humidifier or cool mist vaporizer can decrease cold symptoms, such as a sore throat, cough, and congestion. Caregivers can place a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier in the child’s room to add moisture to the home. People should be sure to change the water daily. Also, cleaning the unit as instructed by the manufacturer prevents the buildup of mildew and mold.

6. Saline drops: Saline drops can help promote mucus drainage and clear the nasal cavity. While kids may not tolerate using a Neti pot to flush out the sinuses, they may be accepting of a few drops of saline in each nostril. In very young children who have trouble blowing their nose, it may also be helpful to use a rubber bulb suction to remove mucus after using saline drops.

7. Pain Relief: To treat a fever and sore throat, consider over-the-counter pain relievers, such as asprin or ibuprofen. Cold medicines containing a decongestant may be helpful in reducing symptoms.

8. Honey preparations: Having honey before bedtime helps decrease nighttime coughs.

How long do colds last?
Home remedies won’t necessarily speed up a person’s recovery, but they may help someone feel better until the virus has run its course. The CDC state that most people tend to experience cold symptoms for 7 to 10 days. Certain symptoms, such as a cough, may linger a little longer. Complications of a cold can include an ear or sinus infection. If symptoms persist for longer than 2 weeks or become severe, it may be a good idea for the individual to see a doctor.

Preventing a cold
Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to a cold. Although it is not always possible to prevent a cold, certain precautions may help.

  • Frequent hand-washing – Frequent hand-washing may be one of the best ways to avoid getting a cold. Viruses can live on the hands, which is why regular hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting and spreading a cold.
  • When washing their hands, people should use soap and water and rub their hands together for about 20 seconds. Hand sanitizers containing alcohol are an option if soap and water are not available.
  • Keeping the immune system strong: It’s almost impossible to avoid all germs. By keeping the immune system strong and working well, a person will increase their chances of fighting off the germs they encounter.
  • Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, and eating a well-balanced diet are important ways of boosting the immune system. Avoiding smoking and keeping stress levels down can also keep the immune system strong.
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