Home Remedies for the Common Cold

Feeling under the weather? Unfortunately, the common cold is an all-too-common part of life, often taking us out of school or out of work for days at a time. While there’s no way to prevent catching a cold, there are a things we can do to minimize getting sick and recovering faster faster.



Cold viruses are transmitted from person to person via respiratory droplets (e.g. sneezing or coughing) or direct  contact with secretions (healthy person touching contaminated surface).  For this reason, the most effective way to prevent catching a cold is for people to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a mask.  Healthy close contacts should wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their nose and mouth- entry portals for the respiratory viruses.


Cold Remedies that Work

Staying hydrated – fluids are the most important component of any cold recovery. Clear liquids like water, sprite, or soup broths can help with congestion and prevent dehydration.

Bed Rest – take naps, it helps your body heal! Turn on a movie or binge that show you’ve been meaning to watch while on bed rest. Take it easy and relax.

Soothing a sore throat – there are a few trusted options when it comes to helping a sore throat. A warm salt-water gargle might not taste good, but the salt will help relieve the pain. Ice, cough drops, or a warm cup of soup can also help with the pain of a sore, scratchy throat.

Over-the-counter pain relievers – while these medications will not shorten your sickness, they may give you some pain relief.  Tylenol and motrin for fever and aches, OTC cough medicines can suppress an annoying cough.


Tips for Treating Children

Because of their weaker immune systems, there are a few special tips suggested when treating sick children:

Electrolytes – dehydration can affect children more severely than adults, so drinking liquids with key electrolytes like potassium and sodium can be more beneficial than water or Sprite. Try drinks like Pedialyte or Gatorade for an added electrolyte boost.

Screen time – time in front of the TV or phone screen can help your child rest and relax, so give them a little extra screen time on sick days.

Minimize OTC medication for young children – in general, over-the-counter cold and cough medicines are discouraged in children under the age of 12.  Tylenol and Motrin are effective for fever and pain but other meds are ineffective and may have serious side effects.  Honey has been shown to help with cough in children over the age of one year.

The most important thing to remember when trying to treat any common cold, virus, or ailment with flu-like symptoms is that antibiotics will not work. These medicines attack bacteria, so attempting to treat a virus with antibiotics won’t help you get better faster.