Home Remedies for the Common Cold

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Contrary to popular belief, going outside without a coat on does not guarantee you’ll get sick. The common cold is actually the handiwork of something much different than chilly breezes and snow days – a virus. The symptoms that follow keep students out of school and employees out of the office. To treat the coughing, sneezing, and other inconveniences, consider home remedies for the common cold.


What is the Common Cold?

A viral infection attacking your upper respiratory tract (the throat and nose) is responsible for the common cold. Although it feels like the end of the world to be stuck with a box of tissues by your side, colds are generally harmless. From a runny nose to nasal congestion, people respond in different ways to the sickness – partly due to the more than 200 viruses associated with the common cold.

Is It a Cold or the Flu?

Often lumped in the same category, the kinds of organisms responsible for causing a common cold and the flu are completely different. Usually, the flu causes greater discomfort, while a cold tends to last longer. Other differences include:

• Fevers are rare with colds, while a flu victim generally suffers a sudden spike in temperature.
• Headaches come with the flu, while colds rarely bring on a pounding head.
• Slight aches may emerge with a cold, while the flu causes extreme body aches.
• Runny noses and sore throats are common with a cold.
• A mild to moderate hacking cough is typical with a cold, while the flu causes severe coughing.
• Colds are mildly fatiguing, while the flu can have you out of commission for an average of two weeks.

Causes and Symptoms

Cold viruses enter the body by way of the nose or mouth. After a sick person coughs, sneezes, or even talks, the virus travels though droplets released into the air. Hand-to-hand contact with contaminated objects, such as telephone receivers and hand towels, also spreads the cold virus. Oftentimes, touching the nose, eyes, or mouth after being exposed to infection can lead to ‘catching’ a cold. Out of the more than 200 viruses responsible for colds, the most common offender is the highly contagious rhinovirus [1].

Signs and symptoms of the common cold may include stuffy or runny nose, itchy or sore throat, watery eyes, cough, congestion, body aches, mild headache, sneezing, mild fatigue, and a low-grade fever (up to 102 F degrees).

Common Cold Home Remedies

While home remedies for the common cold use convenient ingredients and methods typically found in the comforts of your own household – it’s important to recognize when your symptoms indicate something more serious. Contact a physician if you experience fevers above 101°F for more than three days; extreme pain; greenish or bloody sputum; shortness of breath; difficulty swallowing, excessive loss of appetite; and/or wheezing. For treating the general under-the-weather cold, consider the following home remedies:

a) Lemon and Honey:

Combine one teaspoon each of lemon juice and honey. Add hot water to the ingredients to create a healing syrup, which soothes the throat, loosens mucous membranes, treats fever, and eases body aches.

b) Pot of Boiling Water:

Boil a pot of water on the stove. Turn off the flame and drape a towel to form a tent over your head and the pot of hot water. Inhale the steam to moisten a dry throat, calm coughing fits, and make it easier to breathe.

c) Garlic:

Add a spoonful of garlic paste to a glass of warm milk to reduce chest congestion and make breathing easier.

d) Ginger:

Drink ginger tea to soothe the coughing that comes with a cold.

e) Cinnamon:

In a glass of water, boil cinnamon with a pinch of pepper and honey to treat a sore throat and reduce the lingering effects of a cold.

f) Onion:

Use onion to help liquefy phlegm, making it easier to remove the unwanted substance from your system.

g) Garlic Tomato Soup:

Boil two to three tomatoes in a cup of water. Add one teaspoon of garlic paste, butter, and black pepper powder to the blend. Consume the soup two to three times a day to relieve nasal congestion.

h) Sage:

With powerful antiviral properties, gargle a sage infusion to treat a sore throat, stuffy nose, and persistent cough.

i) Horseradish:

Grate enough horseradish to create one to two teaspoons. Add one teaspoon of apple vinegar or honey to the horseradish. Place a small amount of the mixture on your tongue and take a long breath in, which aids in loosening up congestion.

j) Vitamin C:

A study conducted at University of Wisconsin revealed that participants taking 500 milligrams of vitamin C four times per day suffered about half as many cold symptoms as people who did not. The vitamin may also decrease the frequency of sneezing and coughing. Increase the amount of vitamin C in your diet by drinking orange, grapefruit, and cranberry juices.

k) Zinc:

According to research conducted in Great Britain and the United States, cut the length of your cold by sucking on zinc lozenges – known to lessen your suffering on an average of four days. Zinc also treats dry, irritated throats. Beware of the unpleasant taste of zinc, which can be softened by the addition of lemon or honey.

l) Keep Warm:

Stay warm when battling cold symptoms to encourage your immune system to focus on fighting the cold infection instead of using energy to protect you from cold weather.

m) Avoid Handkerchiefs:

When you need to blow your nose or wipe a runny nose, opt for paper tissues instead of handkerchiefs, which provide the perfect environment for the cold virus to thrive.

n) Wash Your Hands:

Reduce your chances of re-infecting yourself (and others) by washing your hands on a frequent basis.

o) Mild Exercise:

Improving your circulation can help the immune system circulate much-need antibodies that fight your cold infection. Take a ½ hour walk or enjoy light aerobics to get the blood pumping.

p) Chicken Soup:

Unclog nasal passages with a cup of hot chicken soup, which encourages the flow of congesting mucus – the stuff that comes out when you blow your nose or sneeze.

q) Clear Liquids:

Flush out the cold virus by drinking six to eight glasses of water, tea, juice, and other clear liquids on a daily basis.

r) Hot Toddy:

At night, a stuffy nose may respond to a half a glass of wine or a couple sips of brandy.

s) Avoid Smoking:

Your throat doesn’t need any more irritation; smoking tobacco products only worsens your cold. It also hinders your body’s ability to fight infection and remove bacteria out of the lungs and throat.

t) Saltwater:

Gargle with saltwater morning, noon, and night to provide sore throat relief. Mix one teaspoon of salt in a glassful of warm water.

u) Steamy Shower:

Clear congestion by taking a steamy shower to open up lung and nasal passages.

v) Petroleum Jelly:

When blowing your nose becomes a painful experience, use a Q-tip to apply a layer of petroleum jelly outside the rim of your nostrils.


[1] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/common-cold/DS00056/DSECTION=causes