Using Home Remedies
Using Herbal Remedies
Getting Quality Rest
Improving Your Lifestyle
Practicing Good Hygiene
Improving Your Diet
Getting Medical Help
Show 5 more…
Ask a Question
Feel like you’re always catching colds? Young children, smokers, people with autoimmune disorders, people under stress, and those exposed to air pollutants are more likely to get colds. Studies have shown that adults usually have 2 colds each year, while children have at least 6. You’re also more likely to get the common cold, a sign of viral infection in the nose and throat, in the winter. While there’s no definite cure for the cold, you can treat the symptoms and make the condition more manageable. Make lifestyle and diet adjustments, get quality rest, and try herbal home remedies.
Using Home Remedies
1Take a warm shower.
To reduce nasal congestion, drain mucus, and soothe sore muscles, take a warm shower or bath for 5 to 10 minutes. Keep the water temperature around 40–45 °C (104–113 °F). Make sure the water is not too hot or cold, especially if you have a fever. Some studies suggest that warm showers also help reduce anxiety and stress. Lukewarm baths can also benefit children and infants with nasal congestion.
- People with sensitive skin should only take a warm shower once or twice a week to prevent their skin from drying out.
- Keeping your body clean can also help reduce the risk of further viral or bacterial infections.
2Inhale steam to clear your sinuses.
For a quick steam treatment, you can heat up a pot of distilled water to almost boiling (approximately 80–85 °C (176–185 °F)). When it starts producing a lot of steam, remove the pot from the heat. Place a towel over your head, close your eyes, and breathe deeply for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Steam helps loosen mucus while also washing away any foreign matter (like dust or pollen) that came into contact with your nasal passages.
3Apply a warm towel to your forehead.
Soak a small, clean towel in lukewarm water for 3 to 5 minutes before wringing out the water. Place it on your forehead or on other sore muscles for 5 minutes. Repeat this process for a total of 20 minutes. Or, you can use a hot water bottle or gel pack to apply a gentle heat. If you have sensitive skin, don’t apply heat greater than 30 °C (86 °F). If you have a fever, don’t use heat. Instead, apply an ice pack.
- Applying a warm towel to your forehead or neck can help drain the mucus and relieve sinus headaches caused by inflammation and congestion in the nasal passages. The heat opens up blood vessels, which increases blood flow and supplies oxygen and nutrients to reduce pain in joints and relax sore muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
- Don’t use heat on injuries, wounds or stitches. People with poor circulation and diabetes should practice caution when using warm compression.
4Use a saline spray.
Saline sprays add moisture to nasal passages and help clean them of crusts and mucus. You can purchase over-the-counter saline sprays, available as either a pressurized canister or pump spray bottle, at most drug stores. Ask your doctor for a recommendation. Follow the specific packaged instructions on the saline spray that you purchase. Realize that some may sting slightly or cause irritation.
- To use the saline spray, insert the spray applicator into your nostril and spray a fine mist of the solution while you inhale. Most saline sprays are safe to use as often as you like on a daily basis. But, if you experience nosebleeds, discontinue use for a few days. If bleeding or irritation continues, speak with your doctor.
5Use a neti pot.
A neti pot helps you irrigate your nasal passages, which flushes mucus from your sinuses. Place 4 fluid ounces (120 mL) of saline solution in your neti pot. Tilting your head to one side, insert the tip of the neti pot into the other nostril and pour it into the nostril. The liquid should flow down and out of your other nostril. Tilt your head to the opposite side and repeat with the other nostril. A saline solution is poured into 1 nostril, and it carries mucus out the other. Start with just 1 irrigation a day. If you notice improvement, use 8 to 16 fluid ounces (240 to 470 mL) of solution in each nostril 1 to 2 times a day.
- Neti pots are available at most drug stores and health food shops.
- You can buy a saline solution or make your own. To make your own solution, use ¼ teaspoon (1.5 g) of kosher or pickling salt, ¼ teaspoon (1.15 g) of baking soda, and 8 fluid ounces (240 mL) of warm distilled water (around 105 °F (41 °C)).
6Gargle salt water.
Place ½ teaspoon (2.5 g) of sea salt in a glass of distilled or sterilized warm (30–35 °F (−1–2 °C)) water and stir until it’s dissolved. Gargle the water for 1 to 2 minutes, then spit it out instead of swallowing. If the salt irritates your mouth or throat, you can also use plain, distilled warm water for gargles. Repeat the gargling every few hours to moisturize your sinuses. This will let the mucus drain and can soothe a sore throat.
7Blow your nose correctly.
Gently blow your nose when you have a cold. This can keep your sinuses clear. Experts recommended that you blow your nose by holding a finger over 1 nostril and gently blowing the other into a tissue. Repeat with the other nostril. Wash your hands each time you blow your nose to reduce the chances of other infections by bacteria or viruses.
- Avoid blowing your nose too hard because the pressure can impact your ears, giving you an earache on top of your cold. Only blow your nose as often as necessary.
Using Herbal Remedies
Eating raw garlic may help to fight off a cold. To make it more palatable, you can crush the garlic into a spoonful of honey or olive oil. Or, you can add 2–4 grams (0.071–0.141 oz) of fresh, minced cloves to your meals. Just take care when cooking garlic to avoid cooking it over high heat, which could destroy its healthful compounds. Garlic contains vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese, which can all improve your immunity. It also has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties that can help decongest your sinuses.
- You can get garlic in seasoning, powder, or salt form if you want to cook with it. Garlic extract can also be taken in liquid or capsule form to prevent colds. If you supplement, take 2 200mg capsules 3 times a day. Always talk with your doctor before taking supplements.
2Use Siberian ginseng.
Siberian ginseng can treat cold symptoms, reduce the recovery period, stimulate the immune system to fight against viruses, and improve mental alertness. Look for it as a liquid extract, capsule, tablet, powdered extract, or dried root for teas. Ask your pharmacist or doctor to help you find a reputable manufacturer for supplements and determine the right dosage for you.
- Never give Siberian ginseng to a child. People with high blood pressure, sleep disorders, heart disease, schizophrenia, autoimmune diseases, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Siberian ginseng.
3Take elderberry extract.
Elderberry is commonly used to treat respiratory illnesses, sore throats, coughs, and fevers due to its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It also stimulates the immune system. Elderberry extract can be found as a syrup, lozenge, or dietary capsule supplement at most nutrition or drug stores. You can also try steeping 3 to 5 grams (0.11 to 0.18 oz) of dried elder flower in 1 cup (240 mL) of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink this as an herbal tea, up to 3 times per day. Some precautions to remember are:
- You shouldn’t use elderberry for a prolonged period, so take it as a tea or supplement every 2 to 3 days.
- Elderberry is a blood thinner and may not be recommended for people with low blood pressure.
- Do not use unripe or uncooked elderberries as they may be poisonous.
- Elderberry may have some side effects for pregnant women, people with autoimmune disease, and people taking diabetic medication, laxatives, chemotherapy drugs, or immunosuppressants. Talk with your doctor before taking a supplement.
There are several ways to apply or use peppermint. Use peppermint lozenges, take peppermint extract in dietary supplements, drink peppermint tea, use peppermint essential oil, or use it as a fresh herb (as a garnish or flavoring in meals). Peppermint contains menthol, which can help soothe sore throats and dry coughs. It works as a decongestant to thin mucus and help break up phlegm. Just be sure not to use peppermint or menthol for children under 2 years old.
- To make your own peppermint tea, steep 1 bag (3 grams, or 1.5 teaspoons) of dried peppermint leaves in a cup of hot water. Take it 3 times a day.
- To use peppermint as a rub, dilute peppermint essential oil in a carrier oil, like jojoba or almond oil. Add 5 drops of peppermint essential oil to 1⁄2 fluid ounce (15 mL) of carrier oil. Store any unused portions in a dark glass dropper bottle that has a tight screw top. Massage the oil onto your forehead, the back of your neck, or your wrists for 3 to 5 minutes. Never take peppermint oil orally.
Eucalyptus can also be used in a variety of ways. You can buy eucalyptus lozenges, cough syrups, and vapor baths to sooth sore throats. Topical ointments containing eucalyptus leaves can applied to the nose and chest to relieve congestion and loosen phlegm, which can prevent mucus from aggravating the throat. For adults, eucalyptus is generally safe when applied to the skin. Eucalyptus contains a compound (cineole) that works as an expectorant to fight respiratory infections, reduce congestion, and alleviate coughs. It also has antioxidant properties that protect against free radicals, molecules that can damage and infect cells.
- To make eucalyptus tea, steep 2 to 4 grams (0.071 to 0.141 oz) of dried eucalyptus leaves in 1 cup (240 mL) of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Take it up to 3 times a day.
- To make a eucalyptus gargle, steep 2 to 4 grams (0.071 to 0.141 oz) of dried eucalyptus leaves in 1 cup (240 mL) of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. Gargle the liquid after meals to reduce bad breath, help drain mucus, and soothe your throat. Do this up to 3 or 4 times a day.
- Do not take eucalyptus oil by mouth as it can be poisonous. People with asthma, seizures, liver or kidney disease, or low blood pressure should not use eucalyptus without asking their doctor.
6Use blue vervain.
Blue vervain is a flowering plant that can act as an expectorant. It loosens phlegm and mucus from the chest and throat which can ease congestion. It also makes your body sweat, which can cool your body and reduce fevers. Blue vervain also has anti-inflammatory properties to flush toxins from your body. You can take it as a supplement, tea, or syrup. Take 1 capsule with a meal and glass of water at least once or twice a day.
- To make blue vervain tea, steep 1/2 teaspoon (about 1 g) of blue vervain in 1 cup (240 mL) of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain the liquid and drink the tea up to 2 times a day, especially before bed.
- Blue vervain should not be used if you are taking diuretic medication or caffeine, as it may cause dehydration. Ask your doctor before using blue vervain if you are pregnant, have a digestive problem, or are taking any other medications.
Eating licorice root can help alleviate a cough or sore throat commonly associated with a cold. There are several licorice root pills and serums you can buy at health foods stores, or you can eat 1 to 5 grams (0.035 to 0.176 oz) of real licorice root at home. When buying licorice, look for licorice with a main ingredient of licorice root (not anise or licorice flavoring).
- To make a licorice tea, soak 1 to 5 grams (0.035 to 0.176 oz) of licorice sticks in a cup of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain and drink the liquid once a week.
- Don’t give a child licorice tea for more than a day without talking to your doctor. Never give any licorice tea to an infant or toddler. Licorice should also be avoided by anyone who has high blood pressure, hepatitis, liver or kidney disease, or is pregnant.
Getting Quality Rest
1Get enough sleep.
Getting enough sleep is important in order for your body to heal itself when you have a cold. Studies show that sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, increase the production of stress hormones, put you at higher risk for chronic disease, and lower life expectancy. Make sure you get quality sleep by:
- Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and sugary drinks 4 to 6 hours before sleeping. These can act as a stimulant to keep you awake.
- Creating a quiet, dark, and cool environment. Use heavy curtains or an eye mask to block light, a powerful cue that tells the brain that it’s time to wake up. Keep the temperature comfortably cool—between 65 and 75 °F (18 and 24 °C)—and the room well ventilated.
- Avoiding activities like work or exercise 3 to 4 hours before sleeping. Physically and psychologically stressful activities can make your body secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness.
- Having a regular sleep schedule, which creates better quality and consistent sleep. Try to set a routine by going to bed early and waking up early to set your body’s internal clock.
2Sleep on your side.
If you have a cold or nasal congestion, try to lie on the side that is least congested. This might allow the mucus to drain. Sleeping on your side, especially if you have a cold, flu, or ear or nasal infection, can help you breathe more comfortably, leading to a better night’s sleep.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach, since this can obstruct breathing and cause unnecessary stress.
3Prop your head on a pillow.
If you have trouble breathing, try to prop your head up on a pillow to improve airflow and keep mucus from blocking your sinuses. The pillow for your head should support the natural curve of your neck and be comfortable. If your pillow is too high, it can put your neck into a position that causes muscle strain on your back, neck, and shoulders. Instead, your pillow should be adjustable to let you to sleep in different positions.
- If you sleep on your side, a firm pillow between your knees will prevent your upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment. This also reduces stress on your hips and lower back. Pull your knees up slightly toward your chest.
- A rolled towel or small pillow under your waist may also help support the curve of your spine.
4Relax once you get into bed.
If you have trouble falling asleep, relaxation techniques can help relieve physical and psychological stress. Once you have found the things that help you relax, make them into a bedtime ritual. To help yourself relax, try reading a book, listening to calm music, or practicing breathing exercises.
- You may get frustrated if you struggle to fall asleep. If you are awake for more than 20 minutes in bed, move to a different part of the house without bright lights. Do something relaxing for a while, until you begin to feel tired, and then come back to bed.
5Tell your doctor if you have sleep apnea.
If you have frequently interrupted breathing during sleep, also known as obstructive sleep apnea, ask your doctor for treatment options. Your doctor may recommend surgery or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP is a common therapy for sleep apnea, which includes a small machine that supplies constant and steady air pressure, a hose, and a mask or nose piece.
- Some CPAP devices even come with a heated humidifier to help with a dry, stuffy nose.
Improving Your Lifestyle
1Get moderate exercise.
Mild to moderate exercises, such as walking or stretching, can improve your immune system, which reduces the recovery period and alleviates cold symptoms. Regular exercises also reduce the risk of infection over the long term. A daily 30 to 45-minute workout with moderate intensity exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, and swimming is recommended. Try to avoid intensive training when you have a cold, fever, or headache.
- Consider consulting with a physician or fitness instructor to help create a personalized fitness plan if you have certain heart, respiratory, or bone-related conditions.
2Manage your stress through breathing techniques.
Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a slow, deep breath, sucking in as much air as you can. As you’re doing this, your belly should push against your hand. Hold your breath and then slowly exhale.
- Some studies suggest that practicing relaxation techniques on a regular basis may help reduce the duration of a cold or the flu.
3Practice tai chi to reduce stress.
Tai chi is a gentle exercise program that is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is composed of slow, deliberate movements, meditation, and deep breathing, which enhance physical health and emotional wellbeing. Many practitioners recommend practicing tai chi for about 15 to 20 minutes twice daily at home, since regular practice is essential for mastering the forms and achieving lasting results.
- Before beginning a tai chi program, you should check with your doctor and discuss your health needs with the tai chi instructor.
4Do yoga to relax.
Yoga is a mind-body therapy that improves fitness, lowers blood pressure, promotes relaxation and self-confidence, and reduces stress and anxiety. It uses physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve overall well-being. As with any physical activity, yoga can cause injury if not done correctly. It’s important to practice yoga with a trained teacher.
- Be sure to check with your doctor before trying yoga if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, or a recent back injury.
5Run a humidifier.
Set the humidity in your home between 30% and 55% using a gauge called a humidistat, which you can buy from most hardware stores. If the humidity in your home is too high, mold and dust mites may thrive, both of which are common causes of allergies. Mold also causes an unpleasant smell and can discolor surfaces. If the humidity falls too low, it may cause dry eyes and throat and sinus irritations.
- Dry air can make it harder for mucus to drain from the nasal passages, prolonging congestion. Using a humidifier in your bedroom or living room adds moisture to the air to prevent dehydration, help clear your sinuses, and soothe your throat.
- Both portable and central humidifiers must be cleaned thoroughly. Otherwise, they can become contaminated with mold and bacterial growth that may be blown through the house. Stop the humidifier and call your healthcare provider if you develop any respiratory symptoms that you feel are related to the use of a humidifier.
6Use an air purifier.
Using an air purifier or ionizer may help to keep allergens such as mold, dust, and pollen out of your air.
Filtering these particles out of the air may improve your household air quality and make it easier for you to recover from a cold.
- Air purifiers help clear the air of allergens that can irritate your nose and throat. They also keep your house smelling nice and clean.
7Get an indoor houseplant.
For a natural humidifier, consider getting a houseplant. Due to a process called transpiration, in which water vapor is released from the flowers, leaves and stems, plants can help regulate indoor humidity. Indoor plants also help clear the air of carbon dioxide and other pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, which may otherwise irritate your nose and throat.
- Good indoor plants include aloe vera, bamboo palm, weeping fig, Chinese evergreen, and various species of philodendron and dracaena.
Cigarette smoke can irritate nasal tissue, often leading to frequent headaches and chronic coughing, also known as “smoker’s cough”. This can increase the duration and severity of your cold. Try to avoid secondhand smoke and other hazardous fumes, which can also cause irritation and discomfort. Ask your doctor about ways to reduce and quit smoking.
Practicing Good Hygiene
1Wash your hands regularly.
One of the fastest ways to get sick is to interact with a sick person, or go out in public, without washing your hands before touching your face. There are lots of germs everywhere, so it’s important to wash your hands with warm water and soap often. Keep hand sanitizer with you to help disinfect your hands on the go or when you’re busy.
- Tell your kids to wash their hands regularly, especially when around someone who has a cold and before touching babies.
2Keep your house and bedroom clean.
There are several things you can do to keep your home clean. Disinfect things that get dirty or come into contact with germs that could lead to congestion. Wear a filtering mask when cleaning to avoid inhaling dust or harmful free radicals. Regularly clean telephones, TV remotes, and computer keyboards with non-toxic disinfectant wipes and sprays. When you travel, clean phones and remotes in your hotel room.
- Try to change and wash your bed linens at least every week. Allergens such as dust and bacteria can accumulate on your sheets over time, irritating your nose and throat. These make it more likely for you to catch a cold.
3Use a tissue when sneezing and coughing.
Use a tissue when you sneeze or cough to avoid spreading germs through the air. This also prevents letting other bacteria or viruses into your lungs when you inhale.
- If you don’t have a tissue on hand, sneeze or cough into your elbow rather than cupping your hands over your face, to avoid spreading germs to your hands.
4Avoid sharing utensils.
The germs that cause viral and bacterial infections are contagious. Sharing foods, drinking glasses or bottles, and utensils with a person who has a cold or cough can quickly cause you to catch the infection too. Use separate, clean utensils when drinking or having meals. Avoid touching public drinking fountains with your mouth as well.
- If you have children who go to school, remind them to use their own bottles and utensils.
5Reduce your exposure to common allergens.
Reducing your exposure to allergens may also help make it easier for you to fight off a cold. Allergens irritate your sinuses, cause congestion and difficulty breathing, and aggravate the throat. Flower pollen, dust, and mold are some of the most common allergens. Other common allergens include:
- Hazardous fumes, cigarette and secondhand smoke
- Certain foods, such as shellfish, shrimp, fish, eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat, and soy
- Pet allergies caused by shedding from cats, dogs, hamsters, mice, or rabbits.
- Insect stings, such as bee or wasp stings
- Certain medications, especially penicillin or penicillin-based antibiotics
- Latex or other substances you wear or touch, such as chemicals and dyes in fabrics
Improving Your Diet
1Drink lots of water.
Try to drink at least 8 fluid ounces (240 mL) of water every 2 hours. 2 litres (0.53 US gal) of water is the daily recommendation for the average adult. Your body can quickly lose moisture and get dehydrated through sweating or sneezing caused by a cold or fever. Dehydration can cause your temperature to rise and often leads to aggravating symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, low blood pressure, or even seizures in severe cases. You can also drink non-caffeinated, glucose-free sports drinks with electrolytes, but don’t give them to children under 5 years old.
- If you drink caffeinated beverages, drink an extra 1 cup (240 mL) of water for every 1 cup (240 mL) of caffeinated beverage you drink.
- Children and infants should also drink lots of non-caffeinated fluids during a fever.
2Drink warm herbal tea.
Drinking a cup of warm herbal tea, up to 3 times a day, helps promote mucus drainage while reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. Studies show that drinking warm fluids can help relieve cold symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, and even fatigue. Stick with an herbal tea like chamomile or peppermint to rehydrate yourself. Chamomile is good for reducing stress and fatigue, while peppermint relieves congestion in the nasal passages.
- You can also try adding 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of honey or lemon juice to your tea. These have an antiviral effect and help soothe your throat.
3Avoid inflammatory foods.
Certain foods can slow down your body’s healing process, impair the immune system, increase body weight, and cause inflammation. Try to reduce your intake or avoid these foods, which can cause chronic inflammation:
- Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pastries, and donuts
- Fried foods
- Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda or energy drinks
- Red meat, such as veal, ham, or steak, and processed meats, such as hot dogs
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
4Eat a Mediterranean diet.
Certain foods can help reduce inflammation, which eases nasal congestion and promotes healing. Limit your intake to green vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and oil if you have acid reflux, since fruits with citric acid may trigger gastroesophageal acid reflux, causing nausea, irritation, and occasional vomiting. A Mediterranean diet mostly consists of foods that help reduce inflammation, such as:
- Fruits like strawberries, cherries and oranges
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach or kale, which are high in antioxidants
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, oatmeal, and flax seed
- Olive or canola oil
5Eat warm soup.
Drinking warm soup produces an anti-inflammatory effect, promotes sweating, and increases movement of nasal fluids. This clears the nasal passages and eases congestion. It is important to drink the soup while it is still warm to get the most benefits. Make your own nutritious soup and eat it 1 to 3 times a day until your symptoms improve or clear up. Here are some ways you can prepare your own soup broth:
- For a natural low-sodium chicken broth: Remove any visible skin or fat from chicken legs and measure 2 to 3 cups (470 to 710 mL) of water. Add the chicken and water to a large pot along with 1 chopped onion, 1 tomato, 2 to 3 celery stalks, and 2 to 3 carrots or other flavoring and do not add salt. You can also add herbs like parsley or thyme to flavor the soup. If you’re using a slow cooker, cover and cook the soup on low-medium heat for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. If you are using a stove or burner, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer on low for 1 hour.
- For a natural vegetable broth: Use a variety of vegetables, such as onions, parsnips, carrots, celery, leeks, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Lightly brown them in olive oil or canola oil, then add 2 to 3 cups (470 to 710 mL) of water. Bring the broth close to boiling, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 1 and a half hours.
- If you like, you can add lentils or brown rice to add texture and a thicker consistency. If you like spicy meals, add ½ a chopped cayenne pepper or 1-2 teaspoons (1.8-3.6 g) of cayenne pepper powder to the broth.
Eat 2 slices of pineapple or drink 2 glasses of pineapple juice. Pineapples are rich in an enzyme called bromelain, which reduces the swelling and inflammation of the nose and sinuses that causes congestion. Don’t eat pineapples along with potatoes or soy products, since these contain substances that may slow down bromelain’s healing properties in the body.
- Some people may be allergic to pineapples, and eating it can make cold or allergy symptoms worse.
If you experience a sore throat or cough during a cold, drinking tea or warm lemon water with honey can help soothe your throat. Take 2 teaspoons (9.9 mL) of honey once in the morning and once before bedtime to help reduce coughing. Honey is widely available at most supermarkets and health food stores.
- Never give honey to a child younger than 1 year of age because of the risk of infant botulism, a serious form of food poisoning.
1Take vitamin C.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an important natural antioxidant that helps promote immune function, manage blood sugar, stimulate cell growth and repair, and lowers risk of various chronic diseases. People who get enough vitamin C are likely to have shorter colds and milder symptoms of congestion. You can take 500mg of vitamin C as a dietary supplement split into 2 or 3 doses a day. Since smoking depletes vitamin C, smokers may need an additional 35 mg per day. You can also add vitamin C-rich foods to your daily diet. Good natural sources of vitamin C are:
- Sweet red or green peppers
- Citrus fruit, such as oranges, pomelo, grapefruit, limes, or non-concentrated citrus juices
- Spinach, broccoli, and brussels sprouts
- Strawberries and raspberries
- Mango, papaya, and cantaloupe
2Take vitamin E.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects body tissue from damage caused by bacteria and viruses by improving the immune system. It is also important in the formation of red blood cells and to keep blood from clotting. Vitamin E can be found in foods like vegetable oils, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, and broccoli. Or, you can take a supplement of 15mg a day.
- Eating foods rich in vitamin E is not risky or harmful. But, as a supplement, high doses of vitamin E might increase the risk for serious bleeding within the brain. High levels of vitamin E in pregnant women may also increase the risk of birth defects.
Probiotics are microorganisms naturally found in the digestive system and certain foods. You can take dietary supplements, or get them by eating yogurt and some types of milk or soy products.
- You do not need to consult your doctor about taking probiotics unless you have a weakened immune system or a severe illness. If you have these conditions, you may suffer from fungaemia and bacteriuria from taking probiotics.
Your body needs magnesium to create energy and reduce anxiety, stress, chronic fatigue, and chest pain. It also helps maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. You can get magnesium from eating salmon, mackerel, halibut, tuna, dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, brown rice, lentils, soybeans, black beans, chickpeas, avocado, and bananas.
- If you do take supplements, you can take 100mg of magnesium 2 to 3 times a day, but keep in mind that there is a risk if diarrhea from taking more than 200 mg of magnesium per day.
- If you’re deficient in magnesium, you may notice agitation and anxiety, restless leg syndrome (RLS), sleep disorders, irritability, nausea and vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure, confusion, muscle spasm and weakness, hyperventilation, insomnia, poor nail growth, and even seizures.
- It’s important to not get too much magnesium since it can reduce your calcium absorption. Talk to your doctor about what dosage is right for you.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral found in many foods that you eat on a regular basis. It has antioxidant properties that help protect cells in the body from damage caused by bacteria and viruses. It’s normal to have slightly low levels of zinc, but taking a multivitamin and eating a healthy diet should give you all the zinc you need. The best dietary sources of zinc are oysters, shellfish, red meats, poultry, cheese, shrimp, and crab. If you take it as a supplement or in multivitamins, remember that you’re recommended to take 8 to 11 mg of zinc a day. Avoid taking high doses of zinc, unless advised by your doctor.
- Zinc lozenges are helpful in treating colds and zinc nasal sprays can also clear up sinus congestion. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking any zinc supplements or medications.
Getting Medical Help
1Manage common cold symptoms at home.
Colds can be caused by more than 100 viruses, so there is no way to determine the exact cause. Signs of a cold can appear 1 to 3 days after exposure to a cold-causing virus. Note that a cold does not usually cause a high fever or extreme fatigue, and in most cases you can treat them at home without needing to see your doctor. Common symptoms of a cold may include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy, sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Mild headache or muscle aches
- Watery eyes
- Mild to moderate fever
2Call your doctor if you suspect you have a sinus infection.
Sometimes a cold can lead to a secondary bacterial infection in your sinuses. If you have symptoms of a sinus infection for longer than a week, you may need an antibiotic to help clear up the infection. Call your doctor if you have persistent symptoms such as:
- Fever and headache. If you have a high fever or severe headache, you should seek medical care immediately.
- Pressure in the forehead, temples, cheeks, nose, jaw, teeth, behind the eyes or at the top of the head.
- Nasal stuffiness, loss of smell, nasal discharge (usually yellowish green), or post-nasal drip (the sensation of fluid dripping down the back of the throat), particularly at night or when lying down.
- If your doctor suspects chronic nasal infection, also called sinusitis, you may need imaging tests. These tests can include an x-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
3Get medical attention if you have severe symptoms.
If you have severe symptoms of a cold or flu or have been previously diagnosed with any respiratory disease, you should seek professional care immediately. Symptoms that should be checked out by a doctor or in the emergency room include:
- A cough with green to yellowish phlegm or blood.
- Wheezing or shortness of breath.
- A high fever (101.3 °F (38.5 °C) or more). You should also see the doctor if you have a fever that lasts more than 5 days or goes away and then returns, and seek emergency care if you have a fever of 104 °F (40 °C) or higher.
- Severe headache, throat pain, or sinus pain.
- A skin rash, especially with a fever and throat pain.
4Take your baby or small child to the doctor for severe symptoms.
Babies are especially susceptible to the common cold since they haven’t developed immunity to common infections and are often around other children who may not always wash their hands. Early symptoms of a cold in babies are congested or runny nose, nasal discharge, decreased appetite, irritability, difficulty sleeping or feeding, cough, and a low-grade fever. If your baby is younger than 2 to 3 months of age, you should see a doctor early in the illness.
- See your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if your baby has a temperature higher than 100.4 °F (38.0 °C), has red eyes or eye discharge, has trouble breathing or is bluish around the lips and mouth, coughs up blood or coughs hard enough to cause vomiting, and refuses to nurse or accept fluids.
- You should also take your child to the doctor if they have a fever that lasts longer than 2 days or if they experience ear pain, a headache or cough, extreme sleepiness, or symptoms that get worse or fail to improve over the course of 2-3 days.
5Consult an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist for persistent symptoms.
If your symptoms do not go away after 8 weeks or interfere with your daily activities, your doctor may refer you to an ENT specialist, also known as an otolaryngologist, who can check your ears, nose, and throat. The ENT specialist will look to see if your symptoms are from an underlying cause, such as a viral or bacterial infection. You should tell your doctor about any other respiratory conditions you may have.
- An ENT specialist can also perform a nasal endoscopy using a fiberoptic scope. The scope can look at your sinuses for nasal polyps or other structural problems if you have nasal infection. The specialist may suggest an endoscopic sinus surgery.
Ask a Question
200 characters left
Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.
- Getting an annual flu shot can help decrease your risk of respiratory-related illness.
- Washing your hands often can reduce your chances of getting an infection, especially during cold season. Keeping a hand sanitizer around is helpful for when you’re busy or travelling.
- If you are pregnant, taking certain medications, herbs, and supplements may be harmful to your baby and should not be taken.
- If you have an underlying lung condition, such as asthma or emphysema, you should let your doctor know right away if you catch a cold.
- If your symptoms aren’t better in 7 to 10 days, or you have a high fever (above 102 °F (39 °C)), nasal discharge, or a productive cough (cough with phlegm) then you should see your doctor.
Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 65,767 times.
Did this article help you?