The common cold is a viral infection that affects the throat, nose, and sinuses. Symptoms of the illness usually start two or three days after the person comes into contact with the virus and include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sneezing, a sore throat, and sometimes a fever. These symptoms may linger for two weeks or longer, but most cases clear up after about a week. Currently, there is no medical cure for this viral infection, but there are many home remedies for the common cold.
Any time you're sick, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids. The cold virus attacks the nasal areas and the body secretes mucus to help flush it out. Drinking liquids keep the mucus thin so it can more easily to its job. Try sipping green tea, fresh lemon juice, and plenty of water. Avoid alcohol, coffee, and soda as these liquids can sap the body of vital hydration.
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Getting plenty of sleep is one of the most effective ways to fight the common cold. Sometimes, it may be just what your body needs to heal. If possible, take a day or two off -- work stressors can hinder recovery. Aim to get at least eight hours of sleep, and try to get to bed early.
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When you have a sore throat, it can be painful to swallow, and having a cough -- one of the most common symptoms of a cold -- can make this sensation even more painful. To soothe a sore throat, dissolve about one teaspoon of salt to a glass of lukewarm water and gargle. Doing this can temporarily relieve pain and encourage healing. Lozenges may also be helpful, though most experts recommend again giving them to children.
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Taking a hot shower will not eliminate the virus, but it can help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms associated with colds. By breathing in the warm steam, you can reduce chest congestion. This process may also clear your nasal passages. Other benefits include relieving muscle pains and improving sleep (in part by enabling you to breathe more easily). If you have a headache, a hot shower may alleviate this pain, as well.
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Ginger is a wonder spice. It not only adds flavor to your food, but it also includes powerful anti-inflammatory properties beneficial to a body plagued with the cold. Ginger can help alleviate pain, improve brain function, fight infection, and strengthen your immune system. People with colds or the flu may benefit from drinking ginger tea. The shogaols and gingerols in the root help relieve a sore throat and may also kill rhinoviruses. Ginger is also good for your cough. Try adding lemon, or honey to your ginger tea.
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For symptom relief, over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines or decongestants may help. However, it's not advisable to rely on these medications. Parents with children under five years old should check with a physician before giving their kids any medications. Be sure to take medications only as directed -- if the treatment doesn't alleviate the issue, supplement with other, safe home remedies rather than by taking more medicine than recommended.
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Physical activity may help open nasal passages and break up congestion, and it can also help you sleep better. People with a fever or who are experiencing body pains may want to wait for these symptoms to ease before they attempt physical activity as a remedy, however. If you're uncertain, a doctor can always let you know whether light to moderate exercise is a good idea.
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A stuffy nose is inconvenient and uncomfortable and makes it difficult to get through the day and fall asleep. A saline solution or saline nose drops may help combat that stuffiness and congestion. Children can often use nasal drops, while older individuals can try a nasal spray. You may also prepare a saline solution by mixing a cup of distilled or sterilized water with about half teaspoon of salt and using a nasal irrigation method.
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The ingredients of chicken soup, such as garlic, onions, and ginger, can help fight the cold virus. These ingredients anti-inflammatory properties. The heat from the soup may help with congestion, and the salt may temporarily relieve a sore throat. Broth soups are also a great way to increase fluid intake when you're sick. Plus, of course, it tastes wonderful.
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