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What are Some Remedies for the Common Cold?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

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.

Over-the-counter medications for a cold.
Over-the-counter medications for a 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.

Staying hydrated is important when sick.
Staying hydrated is important when sick.

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.

Tea, ginger and chicken soup can ease the common cold.
Tea, ginger and chicken soup can ease the common cold.

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.

There are many remedies for the common cold.
There are many remedies for the common cold.

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.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

jabuka

Pelergonium sisiodes, a variety of geranium, is said to help fight colds. An extract made from the geranium helps boost the immune system and weakens viruses.

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    • Over-the-counter medications for a cold.
      By: Nikolai Sorokin
      Over-the-counter medications for a cold.
    • Staying hydrated is important when sick.
      By: studiovespa
      Staying hydrated is important when sick.
    • Tea, ginger and chicken soup can ease the common cold.
      By: MSPhotographic
      Tea, ginger and chicken soup can ease the common cold.
    • There are many remedies for the common cold.
      By: Marcin Sadlowski
      There are many remedies for the common cold.
    • There is no cure for the common cold, but there are some remedies that can help relieve symptoms.
      By: emde71
      There is no cure for the common cold, but there are some remedies that can help relieve symptoms.
    • Ginger, when grated, is a remedy for the common cold.
      By: keko64
      Ginger, when grated, is a remedy for the common cold.
    • Vitamin C, which can be found in most citrus fruits, is an excellent way to heal a cold.
      By: volff
      Vitamin C, which can be found in most citrus fruits, is an excellent way to heal a cold.
    • A painful cough may accompany a cold.
      By: Creativa
      A painful cough may accompany a cold.
    • People suffering from a cold need lots of rest to recover.
      By: psd photography
      People suffering from a cold need lots of rest to recover.