Cold remedies: What works, what doesn’t, what can’t hurt

Cold remediesIf there’s no cure for the common cold, what about those cold remedies that claim to make a person feel better fast.

Here is what is effective — and what isn’t.

There are as many common colds as there are cold remedies. If you get a cold, expect to be sick for a week to ten days. Having a cold doesn’t mean you are destined to be miserable. With enough rest, these remedies may help you feel better.


Water, juice, clear broth or honey in lemon water will lossen congestion and prevent dehydration. Avoid alcohol and coffee; they make dehydration worse.


Engouh said. Your body needs rest.

Sore Throat

A  mixture of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt in warm water can relieve a sore throat. Kids younger than six are unable to gargle properly, so try ice chips.


Saline nasal drops and sprays, bought over-the-counter, may relieve stuffiness and congestion. In infants and toddlers, experts suggest putting several saline drops into one nostril then gently suctioning with a bulb syringe.

Pain Relief

For kids under six months, just use acetaminophen. Children over six months can usually have acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Talk with your family physician for the correct dosage.

Warm Liquids

A remedy used in many countries, chicken soup, tea or even warm apple juice may be soothing enough and ease congestion.


Add mist to the air by a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier to loosen congestion. Refresh the water daily and clean the unit regularly. Don’t use steam. It hasn’t been shown to help and can even cause burns.

Cold/Cough Medications

For adults, and kids older than five-years, over the counter products often offer some relief. They won’t prevent a cold, or short its duration so don’t overuse or misuse these medications as doing so can cause severe damage.

What Doesn’t Work

The list of what doesn’t work is long. Some of the mor common ones that fail to work are:


These attack bacteria, but they won’t help against cold viruses. Avoid using antibiotics for a cold or even using old antibiotics that yo uhave on hand.

Over-the-Counter Medications for Young Children

These may cause serious, even life-threatening, side-effects in children. The Food and Drug Administration warns against using them for children under age 6.


The reputation has had its highs and lows. Many of the zinc studies have proven to be flawed, so check with your physician before using zinc.

What (Maybe) Won’t Hurt

Vitamin C

For the most part, using Vitamin C won’t benefit the typical person prevent colds. Taking Vitamin C beffore feeling the cold symptoms can shorten the symptoms’ duration.


The conculsions of echinacea for preventing, or shortening, colds are mixed. Some studies show no benefit. Others show a reduction in the duration of symptoms — if taken early enough. Different types have contributed to different outcomes, but it seems to be the most effective if you take it as early as you sense the cold symptoms and continue using it for the next week to ten days.

Take Care

Usually minor colds can make a person feel miserable. It is tempting to try the latest, fad, remedy, but the best thing to do is simply take care of yourself.