Cold remedies come in all shapes and sizes and are tailored to fit the many different symptoms of the common cold. Because a cold can be caused by one of more than a hundred different viruses, the symptoms you’ll experience will vary. However, several symptoms are almost always present and are considered the hallmark of the common cold — namely, sore throat (pharyngitis), cough, congestion, and nausea or stomachache. It is for these primary symptoms that most popular cold remedies are made. The U.S. National Library of Medicine cautions, “Most cold symptoms usually go away within a week. If you still feel sick after 7 days, see your doctor to rule out a sinus infection, allergies, or other medical problem.”
Cough and sore throat. One of the most readily available sore throat remedy is over-the-counter throat lozenges or cough drops. However, if you’d prefer to take a more natural approach, several popular tea herbs — including peppermint, chamomile and licorice — are known for soothing the throat. Add a little bit of honey for some added soothing power. Finally, the single most powerful natural remedy for sore throat is to simply gargle with warm salt water. This won’t help your cough, but should help soothe your throat for at least a couple of hours.
Congestion. The top herbal remedy for congestion is horseradish — your sinuses will clear when you eat this. However, unless you really like spicy food, this might not be a very good option; in addition, horseradish generally works best with allergies or similar congestive ailments that do not include a sore throat. Consider using a humidifier or taking a hot, steamy shower to help loosen the congestion. Warm salt water can also be used to gently rinse out the sinuses. Finally, over-the-counter decongestants are usually very effective.
Easing stomach upset. Stomachache and nausea can greatly discourage you from eating, though abstaining from food will probably just make the nausea worse. Consider eating some soothing vegetable soups or other liquid, slightly salty food items. This may help soothe your sore throat while easing the stomach pains and also will help fight dehydration. Avoid anything very spicy, and be aware that dairy products may irritate your stomach. Some carbonated beverages, especially those with a mild flavor, may also help soothe the stomachache that comes with a cold.