Ease Winter Cold Symptoms
Nothing (yet) can truly cure a cold, but there are some remedies that might help ease your symptoms and keep you from feeling so miserable. Here’s a look at some common cold remedies and what’s known about them.
- Drink to stay hydrated. Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas, which can make dehydration worse.
- Rest. Your body needs to heal.
- Calm a sore throat. A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat. (Children younger than 6 years are unlikely to be able to gargle properly.) You can also try ice chips, sore-throat sprays, lozenges or hard candy. (Don’t give lozenges or hard candy to children younger than 3 to 4 years old because they can choke on them.)
- Break up stuffiness. Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays can help relieve stuffiness and congestion. In infants, experts recommend putting several saline drops into one nostril and then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe. To do this, squeeze the bulb, gently place the syringe tip in the nostril about 1/4 to 1/2 inch and slowly release the bulb. Saline nasal sprays may be used in older children.
- Reduce pain. For children 6 months or younger, give only acetaminophen. For children older than 6 months, give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ask your child’s doctor for the correct dose for your child’s age and weight. Adults can take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin. Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 3, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been
linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
- Drink warm liquids to ease congestion. A cold remedy used in many cultures, taking in warm liquids, such as chicken soup, tea or warm apple juice, might be soothing and might ease congestion by increasing mucus flow.
- Reduce dryness in the air. A cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier can add moisture to your home, which might help loosen congestion. Change the water daily, and clean the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t use steam, which hasn’t been shown to help and may cause burns.