It’s all too easy to catch a dreaded cold over winter, and many of us turn to our local pharmacies to stock up on sachets and lozenges to see us through the season.
There are some tried and tested home remedies out there that could work just as well as expensive medicine.
We’ve put together some easy cold remedies you can make and use at home instead of traditional over the counter medicines.
The importance of taking in liquid when you have a cold shouldn’t be underestimated. Liquids will help you replace any fluids you lose to a runny nose or sweating, and may even help you to thin the mucus in your body and make it easier to break up congestion.
Drink up to two litres (about 10 small glasses worth) of water a day to keep yourself hydrated and your throat feeling moist.
As well as water, drink hot herbal tea, sports drinks, ginger ale and soup. However, you should avoid caffeine and alcohol (even whisky in a hot toddy) as they could both dehydrate you further.
Try making yourself a soothing drink with a mix of hot water, slices of raw ginger, a teaspoon of honey and slice of lemon.
Take Painkillers and Vitamins
Ordinary paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen can help not only to reduce any pain you’re experiencing from headaches and a stuffed nose, but to reduce your fever. You can buy them cheaply from your local supermarket, but just remember never to take more than the recommended dose.
Some studies have shown that zinc supplements, like syrup, lozenges or tablets, can be an effective cold treatment, especially if they are taken within a day of your cold starting.
Lots of us still turn to Vitamin C when we have a cold, though you may need to take in high doses to feel any benefit. Make sure you get plenty of vitamins from fruit and veg when you’re ill.
Get Lots of Rest
You may feel so unwell that you need to take a day or two off from work, or simply feel unable to do what you normally would. In these circumstances, it’s worth listening to your body and getting some much needed rest. Not only will you minimise the risk of passing your cold on to someone else, but you will help your body get over the cold faster.
Put any normal chores or exercises to the side, at least on the days when you are at your worst, and instead let yourself relax. Read a book, watch films, snuggle up under your duvet or take long, hot baths.
Lots of people find that salt is a great natural remedy for colds, as it is an astringent which can help soothe pain.
Try dissolving a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water and then gargling it in your mouth and throat for a while. Using a saltwater gargle like this several times a day could help to loosen the mucus.
If you have a nasal spray bottle or Neti pot then a tiny quarter teaspoon of salt mixed with a glass of filtered (or boiled and cooled) water could help to expel bacteria from your body.
Steam can be a great tool in the fight against the common cold, as it can loosen mucus and make you feel more comfortable.
An easy way to get the benefits from steam is to take a hot shower or sit in a steamy bathroom, with the windows and doors are closed so you keep steam in the room.
You could also try filling a bowl with boiling water, draping a towel over your head, and gently breathing in the hot air with your eyes closed. If you do this, be very careful that you do not burn yourself.
There are lots of vaporisers, humidifiers and face steamers available to buy on the high street which can help give you a more sustained or targeted steaming experience for your cold.
Other at home cold remedies that you could try are:
- Increasing the amount of fibre you’re eating
- Sucking on menthol sweets
- Drinking orange juice
- Making carrot and ginger soup
Most people can manage to rid themselves of a cold on their own, but if you have a chronic illness or think you might be suffering from the flu it’s important to see a GP for advice.
What natural cold remedies have worked for you?
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