There is an old adage that it takes fourteen days to cure a cold with treatment, and two weeks to cure one without treatment. This is essentially true. There is no cure for the common cold, though some people find that remedies for the common cold help them feel a little better during their illness. Generally, a cold lasts about two weeks, though some people swear by one remedy or another as helping to shorten duration. Some do seem to recover more quickly from colds than do others, but it’s difficult to determine whether this is due to natural strength in the immune system or any proposed cure.
One of the key remedies for the common cold is chicken soup. Studies do show that chicken soup, because of its hot and steamy nature tends to act in several beneficial ways to cold sufferers. First, if the soup is not overly salty, it helps to hydrate the body, which assists in drainage of mucus and fluid loss due to fever. Second, hot soup and steam in general appears to help cold sufferers feel a bit of relief while consuming soup. Noses may become temporarily less stuffy and throats may ache a bit less when you’re eating one of mom’s best remedies for the common cold.
Many people swear by eating spicy foods as remedies for the common cold. Spicy foods do help to temporarily clear congestion since they stimulate the mucus membranes. Again, these may help relieve symptoms, and may feel like excellent comfort food. Some people like ginger tea for this reason, or simply eat pickled or grated ginger on foods. Others attest to the powers of Chinese hot and sour soup as one of the best remedies for the common cold.
There are a variety of other suggested methods to alleviate cold symptoms. Herbalists may suggest zinc, and some people do attest that zinc, and products like Airborne® which contain zinc, vitamin C and other herbals help to cut down on the days they are sick. More than a few people find zinc irritating to the stomach, so this is a treatment that should be tried with care. Echinacea, once thought to help boost immunity and shorten duration of colds has largely been proven as ineffective. Vitamin C, too, shows little overall effect on duration or prevention of colds.
Others turn to over the counter remedies like decongestants as remedies for the common cold. These may serve a purpose if you absolutely must get something done, but most doctors recommend that you not use these for more than a few days. There is now significant concern about using any type of decongestant products for children under the age of six, which means old standbys like chicken soup or ginger tea are much better choices for little ones.
The main point is that you can’t really cure a cold, but instead endure it. It can help to get lots of rest, take plenty of fluids, and be kind to yourself during a cold. Watch for signs of worsening illness, especially as the cold reaches the second week. If fever suddenly increases and you find yourself feeling achy, have a very bad cough, asthma, or earaches, you may have developed a secondary bacterial infection. In most cases, though, the basic remedy for the common cold is time.