Though there is, of course, no cure for the common cold, there are many ways to improve symptoms and hasten the healing process. Often, the best remedy for a cold is the simplest. That means getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids. Being viruses, colds do not respond to antibiotics, so it is best to just endure the cold for the duration, while trying to improve symptoms as much as possible. Most colds last between one and two weeks.
Before trying to find the best remedy for a cold, it is a good idea to try to prevent a cold in the first place. Frequent hand washing, keeping the hands away from the nose and face, using paper towels for hand washing, getting enough sleep, and quitting smoking are all ways to prevent the common cold. If someone is sick at home, wash surfaces and door handles frequently, and use disposable cups.
A common remedy for a cold is chicken soup. According to the Mayo Clinic, research has shown that chicken soup is actually beneficial, because it is an anti-inflammatory and also helps to relieve congestion. In addition, it is very important to stay hydrated when trying to treat the common cold. Decaffeinated tea, water, and orange juice are good beverages to drink during a cold. Mixing a little honey and lemon in the tea can also help relieve the pain of a sore throat.
Dry air tends to make one more likely to catch a cold and for symptoms to persist, so adding moisture to the air with a humidifier can often help to relieve cold symptoms. When using a humidifier, it is extremely important to keep the humidifier clean to prevent the growth of bacteria. Some humidifiers now allow the use of menthol vapor therapy products to be added to the mist. Again, always carefully follow the directions on the humidifier.
In addition, do not discount over-the-counter cold medicines as a good remedy for a cold. Though they may not shorten the duration of the cold, they can relieve symptoms temporarily. However, in most cases it is best not to use the medicine for more than a few days, and doctors now believe that it is best not to suppress a low-grade fever in adults, as the higher body temperature can actually help the body fight off the cold infection. Follow all directions on the packages carefully, and never mix cold medicines.
Gargling with some warm salt water can help relieve pain from a sore throat. Non-medicated saline nasal sprays are also helpful in relieving congestion, and they are safe for children to use as well. Some people believe that herbal supplements can help to significantly lessen the duration of a cold. These include ginseng, echinacea, ginger, honey, and zinc lozenges, among others. In addition, vitamin C supplements are also often taken as a remedy for a cold. Finally, it is most important to take it easy, get enough rest, and stay warm.