Blog 1/14/2020

Home Remedies for Colds

Everyone hates catching a common cold. On average, adults will develop 2-4 colds per year, while young children can catch from 6-8 per year. When you catch a cold, it can take anywhere from 3-10 days before you make a full recovery.

While there is no cure for the common cold (beyond proper rest), there are a variety of remedies that might ease your symptoms and keep you from feeling worse. We list some easy ones you can use at home below.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking water, juice, clear broth, or warm lemon water with honey. This helps loosens congestion and prevent dehydration. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated sodas, and coffee, which can make dehydration worse.
  • A saltwater gargle (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of water) can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat. However, children under six years of age might not be able to gargle properly, so it’s recommended that only older children and adults try this. To soothe a sore throat, you can also try ice chips, sore throat sprays, lozenges, or hard candy (although you should avoid giving the last two to young children).
  • You can sip warm liquids, such as chicken soup, tea, or warm apple juice, to ease congestion by increasing mucus flow.
  • Pain relievers help combat headaches and minor pains. For children six months or younger, give only acetaminophen. For children older than six months, give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ask your child’s doctor for the correct dose for your child’s age and weight. Adults can take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or aspirin.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medications might offer some symptom relief. However, they won’t prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and they may have possible side effects. Only take medications as directed and don’t exceed the maximum usage listed on the label. Also, experts agree that these shouldn’t be given to younger children. Overuse and misuse of these medications can cause serious damage. Talk with your child’s doctor before giving any medications.
  • Additionally, OTC saline nasal drops and sprays can help relieve stuffiness and congestion. In infants, experts recommend putting several saline drops into one nostril, then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe. To do this, squeeze the bulb, gently place the syringe tip in the nostril about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (about 6 to 12 millimeters), and slowly release the bulb. Saline nasal sprays may be used by older children.
  • Add moisture to the air by using a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier, which can help loosen congestion. Change the water daily and clean the unit based on the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal use.
  • Garlic contains the compound allicin, which may have antimicrobial properties. Adding a garlic supplement to your diet might reduce the severity of cold symptoms.
  • The health benefits of ginger root have been touted for centuries, but now we have scientific proof of its curative properties. A few slices of raw ginger root in boiling water may help soothe a cough or sore throat. Research suggests that it can also ward off the feelings of nausea that so often accompany influenza.

If you’d like more ideas on remedies for colds, check out the links below.


Health Engine, “Common Cold”

Mayo Clinic, “Cold Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t, What Can’t Hurt”

Healthline, “11 Cold and Flu Home Remedies”

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2020 Consumer Report: The Health Care Literacy Gap Why Personalized Benefits Education is the Key to Cost Saving
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