Natural home remedies for cold

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai

At some point, almost everyone gets a cold. Colds are caused by a virus, which means an antibiotic is not an effective treatment.

Viruses are responsible for colds and flu, so antibiotics are not able to cure or prevent these illnesses. Plenty of rest, fluids, and home remedies can help relieve symptoms.

The common cold is medically referred to as a viral upper respiratory tract infection. Symptoms of the common cold may include cough, sore throat, low-grade fever, nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. More than 200 different types of viruses are known to cause the common cold, with rhinovirus causing approximately 30%-40% of all adult colds

The best natural cold remedies [2][3][6]

There are plenty of home remedies that can alleviate your symptoms and get you back to normal. If you still feel sick after a few weeks, make an appointment with your doctor. If you have trouble breathing, have a rapid heartbeat, feel faint, or experience other severe symptoms, get medical help sooner.

Drink lots of fluids– Staying hydrated with lots of fluids can thin your mucus and make it easier for you to drain it from your nose and sinuses. Fluids also help to keep the mucous membranes lubricated, which means that you can help eliminate that feeling of dryness in your nose.

Drink warm liquids– Fluids are great, but warm drinks are soothing and make you comfortable when you have a cold. Medicated hot drinks offer relief for your cough and sore-throat symptoms by soothing the inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat. 

Reducing stress and sleeping well – Sleep is essential for your body to rest and heal. Stress or poor sleep may increase the risk of getting a cold or the flu.

Research shows that when you’re sleeping, your body makes proteins called cytokines, which are important for fighting infection and inflammation.

One study suggests that lowering stress levels through mindfulness meditation practices or exercise reduces the risk of getting one of these illnesses. [5]

People who participated in a mindfulness meditation or exercise program lost fewer work days due to illness than people in the control group.

Do your best to adjust your sleep schedule to get that extra rest that will help your body fight off the cold virus.

Meditate– Keep stress at bay so your body can focus on keeping your immune system in check. Daily meditation breaks can ease stress and help you stay calm: Just close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a few minutes.

Use saline nasal drops and sprays– Non-medicated nasal saline sprays like Sinex Saline Ultra Fine Nasal Mist can help to relieve congestion from a cold.

A saline nasal spray helps to keep nasal passages open by washing out any thick or dried mucus resulting in a more fluid mucus that can drain faster.

Use a neti pot– You can use a neti pot to rinse particles or mucus from your nose. A neti pot is specially designed to help you flush out mucus. To use it, bend your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril, and then pour a saltwater solution into your upper nostril and let the water drain down the lower nose. You can also use other devices such as squeeze bottles and pressurized canisters in place of a neti pot.

Gargle saltwater– You can gargle with water containing salt to get relief for a sore throat from a cold. The recommended measurement is ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water. The high-salt barrier can pull out a lot of fluids from the tissues in your throat.

Add moisture to the air– Use a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer in your bedroom to add moisture back into the air while you sleep. Dry air may further cause irritation inside nose and throat.

Breathe in some steamy air– The next time you have a cold that gives you a stuffy nose, try sitting in the bathroom with a warm shower running. You can also breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water. Inhaling warm (not hot) steam can make the mucus thinner, which will help your mucus drain better.

Adjust your sleeping position- When you lie horizontally, your mucus will be at a standstill. This can result in congestion and cough. When you go to bed, try propping your head up with pillows to help gravity work better for you. Sleeping at a sloped angle allows the fluid in your sinuses to keep flowing to avoid congestion and other cold symptoms.

Keep things clean– It’s just as important to keep the virus from spreading to your friends and family as it is to relieve your own symptoms. Make sure to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and work. Be especially mindful to do so during cold and flu season, or whenever someone around you is sick. Stay home from work and avoid spreading the cold virus to those around you.

Eat lots of vegetables, herbs, and spices- When you have a cold, you should target any treatment that reduces inflammation. Eat lots of vegetables, herbs, and spices. Examples of vegetables that can support your immune system are red bell peppers and broccoli. Certain spices, for example, curry, garlic, and astragalus are known for treating inflammation.

Honey- Honey has antimicrobial properties, which may allow it to fight some bacteria and viruses.

One study found that honey was effective in relieving coughing as a symptom of a cold in children over the age of 1 year. Children younger than 1 year should not have honey due to the risk of infant botulism [3]. People can try stirring some honey into hot water to soothe a sore throat or cough. Adding lemon provides extra flavor and vitamin C.

Zinc supplement – Studies suggest that zinc supplementation may help shorten the length of a cold and lessen symptoms [4].

People can take zinc as a tablet, lozenge, or syrup, but should always follow the dosage advice on the packaging. Too much zinc can cause nausea and stomach aches.

Garlic– Garlic may help fight off a common cold because it has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Garlic has long been a home remedy for colds and the flu. People can eat raw garlic, incorporate cooked garlic into meals, or take a supplement. Unless a person has a garlic allergy, it is usually safe to use.

Ginger– The health benefits of ginger root have been touted for centuries, but now we have scientific proof of its curative properties. A few slices of raw ginger root in boiling water may help soothe a cough or sore throat.

Menthol– Blocked sinuses and congested airways are common symptoms of a cold, which menthol can help relieve. Menthol comes from many types of mint plant. It has antibacterial and pain-relieving effects and is an ingredient in many vapor rubs. People can also add menthol to hot water for a steam inhalation.

Probiotics – Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria and yeast that are found in your body, some foods, and supplements. They can help keep your gut and immune system healthy, probiotics may reduce your chance of getting sick with an upper respiratory infection. For a delicious and nutritious source of helpful bacteria, include probiotic yogurt in your diet. Besides its potential benefits for your immune system, yogurt is a healthy snack that provides plenty of protein and calcium. Look for products that list live bacteria on the label.

Vitamin C – plays an important role in your body and has many health benefits. Along with limes, oranges, grapefruits, leafy greens, and other fruits and vegetables, lemons are a good source of vitamin C. Adding fresh lemon juice to hot tea with honey may reduce phlegm when you’re sick. Drinking hot or cold lemonade may also help.

Frequent hand-washing –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.

When to see a doctor [6][7]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people should see a doctor if their cold or flu symptoms last longer than 10 days with no signs of improvement.

If people have any unusual symptoms or their symptoms are very severe, they should contact their doctor.

These people include young children and those who are: pregnant and aged 65 years or older at risk due to other medical conditions.

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.

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.

There is currently no cure for a cold but there are several home remedies that may reduce symptoms. Fortunately, most home remedies do not have any side effects, so even if they only offer limited help, they will not do any harm.

References:-

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/home-remedies
  2. https://vicks.com/en-us/treatments/how-to-treat-a-cold/how-to-get-rid-of-a-cold
  3. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/3/465
  4. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4/epdf/full
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6014660/
  6. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324607
  7. https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/12-tips-prevent-colds-flu-1#2
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316302

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