Every year, it’s the same: the sore throat, the dripping nose, the coughing. The common cold wreaks havoc, passing around a classroom, workplace or home, lingering and making everyone miserable.
Treating a cold, though, can sometimes be confusing. From over-the-counter (OTC) medications to old home remedies passed down through the generations, everyone has a solution they think works like a charm.
Your body needs rest to help recover and aid your immune system. That’s why you might find yourself sleeping more when you’re sick; it’s not a reason to worry, but a sign your body is fighting the infection.
Another reason you may be a bit more dehydrated? Many colds happen in winter when the air is drier and your heater can add to drying out your body, particularly in your nose. Drinking plenty of liquids and even having a humidifier on (more on this in a moment) can help you fight this dehydration.
Use a humidifier
So, about the humidifier: They are great for dealing with colds in the winter by keeping moisture in your nasal passage. That, in turn, can help relieve congestion. While there’s not a lot of scientific studies about humidifiers, Dr. Vyas says, “We think they work because the warm, moist environment they create helps mucus loosens up and you can breathe better.”
Gargle warm salt-water
A salt-water gargle can provide temporary relief for your sore throat. The salt in the mixture helps draw water out of the tissue in your throat and helps soothe inflammation, notes Dr. Vyas, while also loosening mucus that might be hanging around. Just be sure to spit the water out — don’t swallow it.
Try a neti pot
If your cold comes with heavy nasal congestion, a neti pot may help clear you out a bit. The pot pours a warm saline solution through your nasal passage, pushing out built-up mucus and allergens that are clogging you up.
Take OTC medicines
Some medicines may aid your cough and relieve congestion but make you drowsy, while others may contain pseudoephedrine, which has stimulant properties that can cause negative side effects and drug interactions.
Vitamin C and zinc
You’ve probably heard that vitamin C and zinc can help protect you from catching colds, theories that have floated around for quite some time. The scientific evidence, however, has shown they do little to prevent colds.