Cold Remedies That Work
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Cold Remedies That Work

While there is no cure for the common cold, there are many things you can do to improve your symptoms and facilitate your body’s recovery.

Rest. Getting adequate sleep is central to your body’s immune function. In fact, during sleep, your immune system releases cytokines, some of which need to increase when you have an infection. Sleep deprivation decreases production of these protective proteins. In addition, other infection-fighting antibodies are reduced during periods when you don't get enough sleep. So, when you have a cold, go to bed early, sleep in, and rest during the day, as needed.

Hydration. There are so many reasons to hydrate, even when we are feeling well. Hydrating liquids help us regulate our body temperature, absorb nutrients, prevent headaches, and keep all of the systems—from circulation to digestion to membranes—working properly. Good hydration is even more important when we are sick, because we might be losing fluids to mucus production or in sweating related to a fever. Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks, and caffeine.

Chicken soup. Chicken soup has been recommended for fighting colds for at least 800 years. While the effects had been thought to be mostly anecdotal, science has found some proof behind the myth. Chicken soup can help alleviate inflammation and may ease inflammation-related respiratory symptoms. Chicken soup also improved mucus flow compared with several other liquids in a separate study. The heat of soup is helpful for relieving a sore throat, and, nutritionally speaking, a you can’t beat a hearty chicken soup with celery, carrot, and mushrooms. Ingredients like garlic and black pepper hold additional disease fighting properties.

Honey. Another especially soothing food is honey. A recent study found honey as useful when compared to traditional over-the-counter remedies. A spoonful of honey, which has antimicrobial properties, relieved cough frequency and severity and shortened the duration of the illness by a day or two. Another study found honey more effective than a common cough suppressant ingredient for soothing coughs and improving sleep among children. Notice that honey should not be given to children age one or younger.

More liquids. You might try saline irrigation to clear congestion and reduce inflammation. You can also sleep with a humidifier running. For the low-tech version, humidify by keeping an open pot of water boiling on the stove. Similarly, a hot bath or shower can be helpful. Keep the door closed and don’t run the fan. This “steam bath” can be beneficial for relieving a cough and congestion, especially for young children.

From the drug store. Especially if you have tried the methods above and you are still suffering, nasal sprays and decongestants can be pulled in as a last resort. Note that decongestants can cause dizziness, agitation, and increased blood pressure. Don’t use more than 3 days. Also, symptoms may get worse after you stop using them.

As always, if symptoms become concerning, call your doctor. Any shortness of breath should be addressed at your local urgent care or emergency department as soon as possible.

Lisa Moulton, FNP, is a primary care provider at SVMC Deerfield Valley Campus in Wilmington, VT. The practice is a part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.


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