If you’re looking for common cold remedies that offer relief from symptoms like a sore throat, sneezing, coughing, runny and/or stuffy nose, and headache, we’ve got tons of natural remedies to help you feel better sooner.
Germs, stress, and dropping temperatures are all factors that contribute to the rise of colds and influenza during the winter months, but the common cold can strike year-round. Getting a good night’s rest, keeping active, and eating well are all things that will reduce your chances of stress and sickness, and there are lots of effective common cold remedies that will help you beat your symptoms in the healthiest way.
What Is the Common Cold?
The common cold (often just referred to as a ‘cold’) is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. It usually affects the throat and nose, although sometimes it can affect the sinuses and larynx as well. As mentioned earlier, colds occur more frequently during the winter months, but they can strike year-round. Children are more prone to catching colds throughout the year, and the average adult typically gets 2-3 colds annually.
What Are the Symptoms of Colds?
- Sore throat
- Runny and/or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Mild fatigue
While the common cold doesn’t typically cause a fever in adults, a low-grade fever is possible. Infants and children, on the other hand, often experience a fever when they are sick with a cold.
Cold symptoms typically last for 7-10 days, but can last for 3 weeks. Many people, especially children, develop a post-viral cough that persists after the infection has cleared.
What Causes Colds?
The common cold is often caused by rhinoviruses, but other viruses can also be to blame. Colds are spread after an infected person coughs or sneezes and releases droplets into the air, as well as by hand-to-hand and other forms of close contact, and by touching contaminated objects and surfaces. Colds enter your body through your nose, mouth, and eyes.
How to Prevent Colds
- Prioritize sleep. Sleep deprivation is linked to reduced immunity, so it’s important to get a decent amount of shut-eye each evening.
- Maintain a healthy diet. A healthy diet is an important, yet often overlooked natural immune booster. Make sure to fill up on immune-boosting foods such as dark leafy greens, tofu, sweet potatoes, and yogurt. A good rule of thumb is to try and eat a serving of 5 different colors of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Focus on gut health. You’ve probably heard that 70% to 80% of our immune system is located in our gut, and that improving our gut flora through the consumption of probiotics can simultaneously improve our immune health. Learn more about probiotics and immunity HERE.
- Use proper hand hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, spending time outside, touching animals (even household pets!), preparing food, and coming into contact with someone who is sick, and make it a habit to wash your hands before eating.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow. I realize this isn’t a new concept, but sometimes we need a reminder!
- Don’t touch your face. As mentioned earlier, colds and other illnesses are often spread when we touch our mouths, noses, and eyes after coming into contact with someone who is sick and/or touching a contaminated object or surface, so make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching your face.
14 Common Cold Remedies that Actually Work
5 SORE THROAT REMEDIES
- Salt water. Gargling with salt water helps with swelling and discomfort while also loosening mucus. Simply add 1 tablespoon of table salt to 8 ozs of warm water, stir, and gargle. Be careful to spit the salt water out – do not swallow it!
- Jell-O. The gelatin in warm Jell-O mixture is a delicious way to soothe sore throats. Prepare the mixture according to the directions on the box, but rather than putting it into the fridge to chill, allow it to cool slightly before drinking for relief.
- Chamomile tea. Known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, chamomile tea can help boost the immune system and fight off viruses and infections.
- Popsicles. Popsicles can help you stay comfortable and hydrated while simultaneously numbing your mouth and throat so you can tolerate food.
- Honey. Honey offers a quick and delicious sore throat remedy – mix with warm water or your favorite tea, or lick it straight off a spoon for instant relief – but avoid giving to kids under the age of 12 months due to the risk of botulism.
9 CONGESTION AND COUGH REMEDIES
- Water. Staying hydrated with lots of water is a great way to thin mucus, particularly for small children who are too young for prescription cough suppressants.
- Zinc. When you’re choosing cough drops and throat lozenges for your cold, make sure to pick ones with zinc! Zinc lozenges can cut the duration of your cold down by a few days and can also shorten the duration of your pesky cough.
- Oil of oregano. It tastes terrible, but it really does work! Oil of oregano is a potent antibiotic that diffuses your symptoms pretty darn quick. You can use a few drops of oil of oregano in a smoothie or water, or you can take it right under your tongue and wash it down with water or juice. Caution: You will feel the sting!
- Saline spray. Saline sprays can help loosen mucus so it can be expelled more easily.
- Pillows. Sleeping with extra pillows can help open airways for those who sleep best on their back.
- Steam. Inhaling steam can help relieve nasal congestion. For older kids and adults, simply place a towel over your head and lean over a pot of hot water and breathe in the steam. For younger kids, stand inside an enclosed bathroom with the shower turned to the hottest setting so he or she can breathe in the steamy air. In both circumstances, stay away from the hot water – the idea is to benefit from the steam only.
- Menthol. Applying a menthol rub to your feet and then covering with socks before bed is an effective way to ease nighttime coughing. Just be sure to use child-appropriate formulas and doses for children.
- Cold compresses. Cold compresses can help reduce discomfort caused by swollen, congested sinuses.
- Garlic. The antiviral and antifungal properties of garlic make it a well-known natural remedy for nasal congestion. Boil it in water and then sip throughout the day, eat it raw if you can tolerate it, or add it to your favorite chicken soup recipe for relief.
I hope this collection of common cold remedies offers you some relief from uncomfortable symptoms like a sore throat, sneezing, coughing, runny and stuffy nose, and headache. Remember to prioritize sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise proper hand hygiene to prevent yourself from getting sick, and give some of these natural common cold remedies a try to help you feel better sooner when an illness strikes!