The common cold is, in fact, a virus. To be more specific, it is one of over 200 known strains of the virus. It is not curable. Because there are so many strains of the virus, we cannot produce a universal vaccine (like there is one for the flu).
When you catch a cold, the virus resides in the mucous membrane of the nose and throat. It uses your cells to replicate itself into more virus cells. The symptoms of cold – coughing, sore throat or sneezing indicate that body is trying to get rid of the virus.
Is it a common cold or flu? These are the facts:
- You can get a cold anytime but most likely in winter.
- Influenza season is typically between November and March. Flu symptoms outside of these months are more likely to be from a cold.
- Flu symptoms are typically much worse than a cold. Untreated flu can lead to serious health problems. For example, pneumonia, which can require a hospital treatment.
Symptoms may not be enough for your doctor to decide if you have a cold or the flu. Then a medical test is used to find out what you have.
Colds usually vanish within a few days. See your doctor if the cold has not improved in a week Also if you develop high fevers. You could have an illness other than a cold that might require antibiotics allergies, or a bacterial infection (such as sinusitis or strep throat). A persistent cough could also be a sign of asthma.
Symptoms of COMMON COLD
They vary from person to person, but usually include:
- Runny and stuffy nose
- A sore throat and coughing
- Congestion (blockage) of the nasal passages
- Possibly body aches and a mild headache
- Sneezing due to irritation of nostrils
- Low-grade fever up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius)
Natural cold remedies
Remedies help yourself to be more comfortable while your body immune system fights against the virus. Many of the homemade remedies listed below can be modified to fit your preferences. E.g. different spice or essential oil, etc.) There is some overlap with remedies for a cough or a sore throat. Eventually, you’ll find your go-to recipes for the home treatment of common colds.
Don’t let that cold get the best of you. Make the symptoms more tolerable with simple do-it-yourself treatments that clear up your blocked nose and relieve your scratchy throat.
1. Use salt water
Salt water in the form of saline spray or saltwater rinse helps break up the congestion.
To prepare the rinse at home, simple mix three teaspoons of table salt with one teaspoon of baking soda. Then add one teaspoon of the mixture to a cup of lukewarm boiled water.
Next, hold one nostril closed and gently squirt the solution into your other nostril. Aim the water toward the back, not the top, of your head. The salt water will run through the nasal passages. It will find its way into the back of your throat. Then spit it out through your mouth.
It will not hurt you if you swallow some of the water. It will remove mucus from your nose and reduce overall stuffiness of your nose.
To help squirt the solution into your nose, you can:
- Use an all-rubber ear syringe from a drug store.
- Use a syringe (without the needle).
- Pour the solution into your hand and just snuff it up (my preferred method)
2. Get a lot of rest
It is important to stay warm and rested when you come down with a cold. Your body will have more energy needed for fighting the infection. Give it some help – lay down under a blanket and stay warm.
Hot packs placed on your sinuses will comfort you while you take the rest. Buy reusable one in a drugstore or make them at home. Jut dampen a fresh washcloth and heat it for 30 seconds in a microwave.
3. Steam it
Steam is an excellent remedy for a stuffy nose. Hold your head over a pot of nearly boiling water and breathe slowly through your nose. Be careful – don’t hurt your nose with the heat. You can also add few drops of your favorite essential oil into the water. I prefer tea-tree oil.
A humidifier can also get you some relief. A steam of hot shower with the door closed will give you a lot of relief, too.
Natural cold remedies from the drug store
Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant. The human body needs it to keep you strong and healthy. Vitamin C is important for the maintenance of muscle, bones, and blood vessels. It also improves your immune system. It is good to know that being sick or under stress increases the body’s need for vitamin C.
Vitamin C is found naturally in vegetables and fruits – especially in citrus fruits. It might be more convenient to use a natural dietary supplement in the form of vitamin C pills or chewable tablets. Just make sure that the supplements are made of natural ingredients.
Supplement of vitamin C is safe to take with meals. In the long term, you should stick to the recommended daily allowance by the RDA. However, for an occasional aggressive treatment, use 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams every 2 hours for 8 hours, then scale back to three times a day.
Note: If you’re unsure about taking vitamins and supplements for colds, always talk to your health care provider.
Zinc tablets are such popular cold fighters. Zinc is probably the most critical mineral for building a great overall immune system. It helps to reduce the amount of time you have to endure a nasty cold.
Zinc deficiency symptoms include growth problems, hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, eye and skin conditions, and loss of appetite.
A handful of studies shows that taking zinc gluconate or acetate every 2 hours within the first two days of a cold can decrease its duration. Just be sure to use them on a full stomach to prevent you from being nauseated.
Recommended dosage: Lozenges containing between 10 and 30 milligrams of zinc appear to be most effective.
This potent antioxidant vitamin is another immune system booster. It will not do much in term of getting rid of cold faster, but it helps you from getting one.
Vitamin E has the power to reduce free radical damage and inflammation. It helps to slow aging in your cells.
In one year-long study from Tufts University, 451 adults aged 65+were given either 200 IU of vitamin E each day or a placebo. And the results: 74% of the people getting placebo experienced at least one upper respiratory infection during the study. Only 65 percent of the volunteers in the vitamin E group experienced some infection.
Recommended dosage: 200 IU daily.
According to studies, people who take natural garlic or garlic supplements for 12 weeks during cold season are far less likely to get sick compared with those who took placebos.
For example, there were 24 colds in the garlic group compared to 65 in the placebo group. The garlic takers also recovered about four days sooner than the others.
If you just can’t stomach raw garlic, don’t worry. Garlic supplements seem to work just as well.
Recommended dosage: 300 milligrams two or three times daily. Look for extracts that contain at minimum 12 percent of allicin. However, if you take medications, especially blood-thinning medicaments, always check with your doctor.