Cold remedies are almost as common as the common cold, but there are some remedies that might help ease your symptoms and keep you from feeling so miserable. Here’s a look at some common cold remedies and what’s known about them.
Cold remedies that work
If you catch a cold, you can expect to be sick for one to two weeks. That doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. Besides getting enough rest, these remedies might help you feel better:
- Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration.
- Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas, which can make dehydration worse.
- Your body needs to heal.
Soothe a sore throat.
A saltwater gargle
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water
- It can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
- Children younger than 6 years are unlikely to be able to gargle properly.
You can also try ice chips, sore throat sprays, lozenges or hard candy. Don’t give lozenges or hard candy to children younger than 3 to 4 years old because they can choke on them.
Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays can help relieve stuffiness and congestion. In infants, experts recommend putting several saline drops into one nostril, then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe. To do this, squeeze the bulb, gently place the syringe tip in the nostril about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (about 6 to 12 millimeters) and slowly release the bulb. Saline nasal sprays may be used in older children.
For children 6 months or younger, give only acetaminophen. For children older than 6 months, give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ask your child’s doctor for the correct dose for your child’s age and weight. Adults can take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or aspirin.
Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 3, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
Sip warm liquids.
A cold remedy used in many cultures, taking in warm liquids, such as chicken soup, tea, or warm apple juice, might be soothing and might ease congestion by increasing mucus flow.
Add moisture to the air.
A cool mist vaporizer or humidifier can add moisture to your home, which might help loosen congestion. Change the water daily, and clean the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t use steam, which hasn’t been shown to help and may cause burns.
Try over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medications.
For adults and children older than 5, OTC decongestants, antihistamines and pain relievers might offer some symptom relief. However, they won’t prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side effects.
Experts agree that these shouldn’t be given to younger children. Overuse and misuse of these medications can cause serious damage.
Take medications only as directed. Some cold remedies contain multiple ingredients, such as a decongestant plus a pain reliever, so read the labels of cold medications you take to make sure you’re not taking too much of any medication.
Cold remedies that don’t work
The list of ineffective cold remedies is long. Some of the more common ones that don’t work include:
These attack bacteria, but they’re no help against cold viruses. Avoid asking your doctor for antibiotics for a cold or using old antibiotics you have on hand. You won’t get well any faster, and inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to the serious and growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Over-the-counter cold and cough medications in young children.
OTC cold and cough medications may cause serious and even life-threatening side effects in children. The FDA warns against their use in children younger than age 6.
Home Remedies For Body Pain
pain is dragging you down, consider trying a more natural route to relief. And, because pain is individual, ask your doctor for specifics about these treatments, such as doses and time to continue trying them.
“People who exercise and maintain a good aerobic condition will improve most pain conditions,” says Charles Kim, MD, assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine and anesthesiology and a certified medical acupuncturist at Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center.
When we work out, he says, the body produces its own version of painkillers, such as endorphins, hormones that actually increase your pain threshold. Endorphins interact with brain receptors and can change our perception of pain.
2. Fish Oil.
Fish oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation plays a large role in pain, says Michael Cronin, ND, a naturopathic physician in Scottsdale, Az., and immediate past president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
In one study, researchers instructed patients with neck or back pain to take 1200 milligrams a day of fish oil supplements with eicosapentaenoic and decosahexanoic acid. After 75 days on fish oil, more than half of the 125 patients who reported back said they had stopped their prescription painkillers.
Also called Curcuma longa, turmeric is basically a root, Kim says. “It’s often found in spicy foods, very much in Indian cooking. Studies have shown it has definite anti-inflammatory properties.”
Researchers who tested a combination of turmeric with two other substances, Devil’s claw and bromelain, on patients with pain from osteoarthritis found the mixture gave noticeable pain relief. Patients took two 650-milligram capsules either two or three times a day.
Found in red wine, grapes and berries, resveratrol is known to have many beneficial effects, including anti-cancer, brain protective and even life-prolonging benefits.
Recently, researchers reported that the substance works on a cellular level for pain regulation.
5. Heat Therapy.
Using heat as well as cold therapy are time-honored ways to quell pain, Dr. Cronin and Kim agree.
“Hot Epsom salt baths relax the mind and change the nervous input from the body to the brain,” Cronin says. “Using ice is a well-accepted modality that decreases inflammation locally.”
The key is to know when to use which.
“When you have an acute injury, put ice on it right away,” Kim says. For instance, you twist your ankle and it’s painful and swollen. Using heat in this situation will increase blood flow and increase the swelling, he says.
“If you have lingering back spasms, heat would be the best for that,” Kim says. He suggests taking a warm shower and massaging your neck or back (or whatever body part hurts) under the warm water.
Meditation can quell pain, Kim says. While some people get anxious, thinking they have to do meditation a certain way, Kim tells them it’s just not true.
“Meditation is not scripted,” he says. While you can get instruction, you can also look up approaches and follow instructions, such as this information on the approach known as mindfulness meditation.
Researchers who assigned 109 patients with chronic pain to either a mindfulness meditation program or a wait list found that those who did the meditation reported more pain relief, as well as lower anxiety and depression and a better mental quality of life, than those who did not.