Home remedies for a cold

Having a cold is no fun. The symptoms can leave you feeling pretty miserable between the sniffling, blocked nose,¹ cough and sore throat2. While there’s no cure for the common cold, there are some home remedies that might help alleviate your cold symptoms.

Take a look at some of our tips for treating your cold at home.

10 Cold Home Remedies

1. Getting plenty of rest

Adequate rest is one of the most appropriate things to do when suffering from the common cold.3 Quality sleep is a vital part of your recovery as your body needs time to fight the cold4 . Plus, a lack of sleep may increase the risk of catching a cold or developing flu5 in the first place. Resting at home is also recommended to avoid spread of the infection to others6.

2. Keeping Warm

NHS recommends keeping warm to aid in a quicker recovery from common cold. 7

Having warm drinks like herbal or decaffeinated teas could help relieve your congestion and soothe inflammation in the lining of your nose and throat8. Placing a warm compress, heat pack, or warm face cloth over your eyes and the top of your nose could help to ease your cold symptoms9. The warmth heats your sinuses, which can help loosen the thick mucus behind your blocked nose or headache10.

3. Staying hydrated

Perhaps one of the easiest home remedies to try for a cold is to stay hydrated. An adequate amount of fluid is needed while sick.13 Water, juice, broth or warm lemon water with honey can help loosen congestion, reducing that stuffy feeling of a blocked nose14. It also helps to prevent dehydration. Try to avoid alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, which can make dehydration worse15.

4. Saline Nasal Solutions

There are a few different saline nasal solutions you could try:

  • Saline nasal sprays such as SUDAFED ® Natural Relief Block Nose Spray.
  • Saline nasal irrigation methods – also known as a saltwater flush. This is generally a safe procedure to do at home. You can make your own saline solution or buy one. If you are making your own, remember to use sterile, boiled, or distilled water to decrease the risk for further infection.26

When ready with your solution, start by standing with your head over a sink and tilting your head to one side and using a squeeze bottle, bulb syringe, nasal spray or neti pot, squeeze the saline solution into the upper nostril.27 Remember to breathe through your mouth and let the saline solution run through your nasal passages.28 Clear your nose and repeat the process on the other side.

5. Steam inhalations

Inhaling steam can help loosen up your stuffy nose16. Simply hold your head over a large bowl of hot water and breathe slowly and deeply through your nose17.

Taking a hot, steamy shower is a safe option and could also ease your symptoms18. If your cold makes you dizzy, you can get the same effect from sitting in a chair in the bathroom with the shower running or relaxing in a steamy bath19.

6. Staying Healthy

Although no specific diet or supplementation is required, it’s best to eat healthy when you are sick.29 The following are suggestions on how to keep healthy while sick with the common cold:

Chicken soup

You’ve probably heard people recommend chicken soup as a good meal choice30 when you’re feeling under the weather. Enjoying a warm bowl of this hearty soup with vegetables, either prepared from scratch or bought from the shop can aid in keeping your body warm and hydrated, which according to the NHS can help with a quicker recovery.31.

Eating more ginger

Ginger root can be used to try to provide cold relief at home. Adding a few slices or grated raw ginger root to a cup of boiling water may soothe the cough or sore throat that comes with your cold32 . Ginger can also help to reduce nausea33 which sometimes accompanies a cold.

Adding a little honey

Honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, so adding a small amount to warm water or tea could help ease your throat and provide a home remedy for cold symptoms34 . By soothing your throat, honey could also help you get that much-needed sleep to aid your recovery35.

Getting the right vitamins

Vitamin C supplementation may reduce the duration of colds and can be used by common cold sufferers to see if it benefits them.36 However, if you are not sure, it may be best to consult your physician or pharmacist.

Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient and can help boost your immune system, adequate intake may reduce your risk of developing colds in the future.37

Considering probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that support gut health. There is some evidence that it may decrease the duration of acute upper respiratory infections as well as reduce antibiotic use38. One probiotic of note is Lactobacillus casei which may be helpful for older adults39

L. casei can be found in various foods, including40

  • Yoghurt
  • Yogurt-like Fermented Milk
  • Fermented Cheeses

You can also find probiotic supplements online and in some shops 41

Eating berries

Many types of berries have antiviral properties, which means they could help in fighting cold and flu viruses42. Elderberries and cranberries may support your immune function and reduce symptoms43. Other berries contain high levels of vitamin C, which also supports your immune system44. These include45 :

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries.

7. Blowing your nose

Blowing your nose regularly when you have a cold will help to get rid of mucus from your nasal passages. Sniffling, a common alternative, can drag mucus back into your head23. Try not to blow too hard though, as this can push phlegm into your ear passages, which can cause earache24. Our top tip for blowing your nose correctly is to press a finger over one nostril and blow gently to clear the other25 .

8. Gargling with saltwater

Gargling with warmed saltwater could help soothe sore throat.20 Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle around four times a day21. The saltwater could help by moistening your sore or scratchy throat, provide temporary relief, and prevent your infection from worsening22.

9. Sleeping with an extra pillow

Lying flat can cause mucus to pool at the back of your throat11. To prevent that from happening and affecting your sleep, try propping your head up with an extra pillow12. Find an angle that’s comfortable, so you don't wake up with neck ache.

Treat your cold symptoms with SUDAFED®

Aside from natural home remedies, our range of over-the-counter decongestants can provide effective relief from cold and flu symptoms46 . Whether you’ve got a blocked nose, sinus headache or irritated nasal passages, there’s a SUDAFED product to help.

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