And usually, whatever you do, it usually lasts about a week. But are there cold remedies that can make you feel better faster?
Health Mart’s Larry Durrant sheds some light on ways to make you feel better when you’re suffering from that coughing, sneezing, running-nose and achy feeling.
Remedies that probably help
Drink water and other fluids – Drink lots of liquids. …water, juices … liquids dislodge mucus and keep you hydrated. Coffee, caffeinated drinks and alcohol can dehydrate and rob your system of fluids
Chicken soup. Moms prescribed this comfort food and now scientists feel that it helps, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, scientists discovered that chicken soup might relieve cold and flu symptoms two ways. First, it’s an anti-inflammatory and second, it temporarily speeds mucus through the nose, relieving congestion and limiting how long congestion is in the nose lining. And canned chicken soups worked just as well as soups made from scratch.
Pain relievers and non-prescription decongestants. Look for non-prescription decongestants and use pain relievers sparingly. Be sure to read all labels carefully so that you don’t overdose.
Humidifiers. The cool vapors take away the dryness in your home and in your body, but keep your humidifier clean and change the water every day. Molds and fungus can grow
Gargling – Gargling salt water helps moisten a sore throat and brings temporary relief. Try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water and gargle four times daily
Nasal sprays, mentholated salves and nasal strips. Over-the-counter saline nasal sprays help with stuffiness and congestion. And you won’t rebound when the medicine stops. A dab of mentholated salve under your nose can open breathing passages and sooth irritated skin. Nasal strips can also help open passageways in the nose to help breathing at night and get you a good night’s rest
Steam showers. These moisturize your nasal passages and help relax you
Remedies that don’t help
Antibiotics. Colds are caused by viral infections and antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infections that destroy bacteria, but because colds are viruses, antibiotics won’t help the cold go away. And don’t use leftover antibiotics. Inappropriately using antibiotics can help your body become antibiotic-resistant to bacteria.
Antihistamines. OTC antihistamines make people drowsy. They can make secretions thick which can become a problem for people with asthma. The may also interact with other drugs in your system that may worsen some conditions. Discuss with your doctor or pharmacist if antihistamines would help you.
Cough Medicine. There are many cough medicines with combinations of decongestants, antihistamines, cough suppressants and expectorants. Some contain ingredients that may relieve coughing, but the amounts are too small to do very much good. Ask your pharmacist which combination, if any, would be right. If your cough lingers longer than three to four weeks, see your doctor.
Remedies that probably can’t hurt
Zinc. In studies with positive results, zinc seemed most effective taken as a lozenge or nasal spray if taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Some studies show that zinc nasal sprays help cut a cold’s severity and duration. According to WebMD, the theory is that zinc sprays may coat the cold virus and prevent it from attaching to nasal cells where they enter the body. Other studies show zinc is no more effective than a placebo
Vitamin C. Vitamin C won’t help the average person prevent colds. But it may shorten how long you suffer from a cold. What constitutes an good dose isn’t clear. One large study, quoted in WebMD, suggests that people who took a vitamin C megadose – 8 grams on the first day of a cold – shortened the duration of their cold. Amounts in excess of 2,000 mg a day may cause nausea and diarrhea.
Echinacea. Studies on the effectiveness of echinacea at preventing or shortening colds are mixed. Some studies show no benefit. Others show a 10 percent to 30 percent reduction in severity and duration when taken for seven to 10 days at the onset of the cold. Check with your pharmacist or health care provider if echinacea is something you can or should take.
The best thing to do to prevent a cold is to take care of yourself and make sure you’ve got a well-rested immune system. And when you get a cold, get plenty of rest, drink fluids and keep the air around you moist. And wash your hands often
*Sources quoted: MayoClinic.com and Web MD.com
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