How to treat a cold using ordinary home remedies

by cherylone

Easy solutions to treating a cold using things you probably already have on hand.

You wake up with a pounding headache. Your nose is stuffed and your eyes feel like they have sand in them. Your throat hurts and you feel like someone has been using you for a punching bag. You are certain you have a temp; but when you take the thermometer away it reads---99 degrees. Ninety-nine, how can that be? You are certain there is a mistake. You must be at least 103 with all these aches and pains. You must have the flu! But the temp is 99. You have---are you ready for this--a cold!

I believe a cold is worse than the flu

The flu tells you right off the bat when things are bad and you can get medicine to make the flu easier to deal with.  You sleep most of the time and by the time you are awake enough to want something to eat, the flu is pretty much gone and you are weak and tired, but feeling much, much better.  Not so with a cold.

A cold drags you down; makes your head ache and your nose sore.  It makes you feel awful.  But, with a cold, you must keep moving.  You only, ONLY they say, have a cold.  There is nothing you can do for a cold so you have to keep going.  You have to carry tons of tissue with you to blow your nose and sneeze into.  You have to try (with everything you are carrying) to sneeze into your arm.  You have to keep everything you touch free from your germs.  You have to try to function with a head that feels like a hot air balloon ready to take off from the ground.  And you have to work, clean, dress the kids, feed the family, ride the noisy bus, listen to the kids fight, listen to the boss yell, well, you get the idea.  All with a COLD!

AND....they say it has to run it's course.  What are we, river beds?  Run it's course, indeed.

Now what do you do?

You have a cold and you don’t feel like stopping at the drug store and stocking up on all of the stupid things that sound good and cost a ton but really do nothing for you except take your money.  You just want the cold to go away and leave you alone.  You go home and lay in misery on your bed wishing to feel better; wishing the cold would go away; wishing you could eat the dinner that the family is eating because it smells so good, but your stomach says 'no way'; and wishing you could sleep off the worst of your cold.

What do you think?

Is a cold worse than the flu?
  Display results
There is no right or wrong answer.

There are solutions for the misery of a cold and they are probably sitting in your cupboards right now:

For the sore throat:

Go get a 4 oz glass and fill it with warm salt water (about 1 tablespoon per 4 oz of water) and gargle deep in your throat.  This will ease the sore throat and actually make it feel better.  Baking soda will work just as good and doesn’t taste as salty.  Make sure the water is very warm (but not hot) for best effect.  It also helps to clear up all of that sticky gunk that is running down your throat.  (Hint:  can't stand the saltiness--try using less salt.)

If you can't swallow them, try crushing them and putting them in cold water or apple sauce.
For the slight fever (99-101)

Try taking Acetaminophen (name brand Tylenol) to lower the fever and ease those aches and pains.  Everyone has that in the house somewhere.  Or you might have aspirin; works just as good.  Some people prefer to go with herbal remedies--OK, try Willow Bark.  Take as directed (no overdoing it, or you’ll suffer something worse than a cold).  PS-be aware that if you are allergic to aspirin, you should not take Willow Bark)

For the stuffy nose and helium head:

Try using vapor-rub (brand name Vicks)--(generic medicated chest rub).  What you need is the eucalyptus.  Put it under your nose, on your chest, on a face cloth next to your face, in a hot cup of water that you sniff or leave by your bed side, or open the jar and smell it.  That’s right, open it and smell it.  The effect is in the aromatics of the eucalyptus, not in anything that your body needs to absorb (although when put on the chest it is warm and soothing).  Take a hot (not warm) shower and let the hot water fill the shower with steam.  The steam will ease your aches and help with the stuffy nose.  Try putting a blob of vapor-rub in the tub with you for extra help when the steam rises. 

To help with the breathing

Try putting a tablespoon of salt and vapor-rub in a pan of boiling (lots of bubbles) water and sitting over it with a towel over your head (yes, it sounds old fashioned, but it works).  You can also try sitting up rather than lying down.  Sitting up helps keep the lungs more open thus making it easier to breath. 

For the cough:

I know, coughing helps to bring up the phlegm, but when you have coughed until your throat is raw, you need a break.  Try a hot tea (no milk or sugar) with honey, lemon, and a drop (just a drop) of some type of alcohol (this is called a hot Toddy and is great for coughs).  It also helps with the stuffy nose, and eases the tight chest.  Make sure you drink it hot for best effect.  Note: this should not be taken before or during work!  Insead, try it as an afterwork relaxer or bed-time sleep aid.

To ease your sore, red nose:

Open up your lip balm (for chapped lips) and rub your finger over the top.  Now rub below your nostrils.  You can do this as often as you want and before long your nose won’t hurt anymore.  I know, I know, everyone says to use lotion, but lotion burns, folks, and the lip balm doesn’t.  Don’t have any lip balm (did you check in the bottom of the purse or coat pocket), OK, try petroleum jelly (name brand Vaseline).  It works just as good, even if it is a bit greasy. 

For the achy pain that persists even after taking meds:

Is your neck sore?  Does your back ache?  Of course!  Try sitting against a heating pad for about a 1/2 hour or so.  Then let the area cool and do it again.  The hot/cold/hot will un-tie all of those muscles and you will feel better.  To help relax all those tight muscles and help you pass the time while you are sitting still, try listening to a gentle water-fall using a CD or a mini water fountain, listen to a favorite soft music CD, or close your eyes and imagine a gentle rainfall or a beautiful quiet place where you can rest and relax. 

Is the Tummy Grumbling?

Well, you know that you won’t want much to eat, not right now.  But you are hungry and not really in the mood to cook up a pot of chicken soup.  Well, how about chicken stock?  Heat it to boiling and then sip it.  The heat will help clear the stuffy nose (be prepared, the nose will run) and the salty stock will give your belly something to do.  You can also use beef stock, chicken bouillon, beef bouillon, and those little packaged soups, it’s the salt and the liquid you need, although chicken has been shown to have healing properties of it's own (an anti-inflamatory effect as described in Wikipedia).  Dry crackers will also help absorb the acid your tummy is creating right about now.

We need to add something to the list, I think.....

Oh yes, fluids!

You need fluids and the chicken stock and the tea will help with that, but, let’s face it, we are drying out with all the coughing and aches and low-grade fever.  What we need is something long and cool, right?  Well, maybe.  Sometimes we don't really get the liquids we need because with a cold we often feel a bit, well, queasy. First, use clear liquids (liquids you can actually see through) because others might be too heavy or sweet.

Try ginger tea or ginger ale for that queasy stomach and added fluid.  For the Ginger Ale: don't drink it right out of the bottle.  Instead, pour it into a glass and stir it until the bubbles are gone (or let it sit stirring occasionally).  Then you can add ice and sip it through a straw.

If ginger ale isn't your choice for drinking, a flat cola (fix like the ginger ale) is okay in small quantities.  However, it is not usually recommended if your stomach is queasy.  If all else fails, try drinking ice-cold lemonade (slightly sour).  That will sometimes help the queasiness as well and the cold of the drink will help your throat. 

Another form of liquid is ice-pops, sherbet, or sorbets; however, be careful with these because the extra sugar might upset your stomach.  Also gelatin, broth, tea (avoid coffee), and juices (avoid milk) can be good fluid-replacers.

Now have I forgotten anything?

Yes, I guess I have...

I have forgotten about all those things you will have to carry with you while you try to work through your day.  I know how much of a bother it is to carry a box of tissue around (and a roll of toilet tissue just makes you look silly).  And you can’t carry a hot tea with alcohol around at work or when you are driving.  Not to mention a heating pad while working.  The boss wouldn’t like that at all.  So, what to do, what to do.... 

  • For the aches and pains, you could use a hot patch or a gel that heats up, just remember to keep the area covered with a shirt or sweater to avoid an added chill in the muscles
  • Make your tea or drink up (NO alcohol) and put in a thermos to sip during the day
  • Heat up soup or broth and put in a thermos to sip
  • Put small packets of bouillon or soup in a coffee cup and place in your lunch box for lunch
  • Carry lip balm in your pocket, purse, or briefcase
  • Carry the acetaminophen or aspirin in a small container marked as such
  • Carry a small plastic cup and a resealable bag with salt for gargling
  • If you don't have a small box of tissue, you can put several tissues in a small resealable bag and slip into pocket or purse (refill as necessary) or make up several and store them in your lunch bag for easy retrieval
  • Carry a small container of hand sanitizer to use after sneezing or blowing your nose

Anything else?

Ahh, yeah....

For Pete’s sake, don’t sneeze on your boss!  Giving your boss a cold is the very last thing your career will need.  However, if you manage to make it through the few days of a cold without losing time at work or making anyone else sick, you may get a promotion for your efforts!  No?  Well, at least you won’t lose your job.

Hope you feel better!!!

Don't sneeze on your boss!
Don't sneeze on your boss!

You might also be interested in these articles

For a definition of the common cold:

The common cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system which affects primarily the nose. Symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, and fever which usually resolve in seven to ten days, with some symptoms ...
Updated: 08/20/2012, cherylone
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cherylone on 09/03/2012

Thank you so much, katiem2, you are always my first reader and you leave great comments. I am glad you found useful info in the article.

katiem2 on 09/02/2012

Thanks for the great advice when it comes to dealing with the common cold. It is back to school time and fall approaches, great to be on top of the cold and flu season. :)K

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