Best Home Remedies for the Common Cold
Colds are as common as dirt. They tend to appear in winter but it's possible to get them all year round. Once we feel the common symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat and cough, we know we've got a cold. Although there's no cure for the common cold, there are plenty of science-backed cold remedies that can make you feel better.
In this oneHOWTO article, we are going to tell you the best cold remedies that will actually help you, as well as answer other common questions about the common cold.
What is the common cold?
The common cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract. This disease affects primarily the nose, throat, sinuses and larynx. Once exposed to the virus, signs and symptoms may appear in less than two days. These symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Headache (rare)
- Fever (rare)
How long does a cold last?
In general, people recover in seven to ten days. However, some symptoms may last up to three weeks. Common colds can get more serious with those who have other health issues.
What causes the common cold?
The common cold can be caused by a number of viruses. The most commonly implicated virus is the rhinovirus. Others may include: coronavirus, influenza viruses, adenoviruses, orthopneumovirus, enteroviruses and human metapneumovirus. In fact, more than 200 viral types are associated with the common cold. It's also common for more than one virus to be present.
The common cold is typically transmitted through aerosols or contaminated objects. Colds caused by rhinovirus are most infectious during the first three days and then then become less infectious. Nevertheless, this virus may survive for over 18 hours in a certain environment and can be picked up by people's hands and subsequently carried to more vulnerable areas of their body, such as their eyes or nose.
Why is there no cure for the common cold?
In the 1950s, once scientists discovered the rhinoviruses, the search for a cure for the common cold began. Since the rhinovirus accounts for up to 75% of colds in adults, they decided to investigate it.
Peter Barlow, an immunologist at Edinburgh Napier University, says “The main challenge with rhinovirus is the number of circulating strains. There's at least 160 different strains, or serotypes, of rhinovirus. That means cracking the cold isn’t so much looking for one solution to one problem as it is trying to design a master key to open hundreds of different locks at once. It’s incredibly difficult to create a vaccine or drug that will target all of those 160 strains.”
A strain is a genetic variant or subtype of microorganism. In other words, it's a virus, bacterium or fungus. The discovery made through the 1990s of the common cold having more than 160 of them discouraged scientists from working seriously on vaccines. This is understandable as simple vaccines were known to immunize people against one strain. The idea of creating a vaccine for over 100 strains and having a single individual require so many shots, seems impractical and expensive. Especially given the fact that most people naturally get over the cold in a couple of days.
The stages of a common cold
As we've previously mentioned, most people recover from the common cold in 7 to 10 days. Others can fight the virus faster due to their immune system. If other health issues are compromised, some people may take a bit longer to recover. Nevertheless, the common cold is not a serious disease. Let's take a look at the different stages of the common cold:
Stage one: day 1-3
The first three days you will notice the symptoms we've listed above. In these first days, the virus is highly infectious by aerosol and contaminated objects. To avoid spreading the virus to other people, you can:
- Avoid public contact if possible. Stay home from work and school.
- Avoid physical contact with other people. This includes shaking hands, hugging and kissing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Fully cover your cough and sneeze into your elbow or, better yet, a tissue. Immediately dispose of the tissue and wash your hands.
Avoid taking antibiotics as this is a viral infection and an antibiotic will not only not help, but it could make it worse. You must simply ride the disease off and continue with the home remedies we'll list below so as to help your body fight the virus.
Stage two: day 4-7
The next few days your symptoms will continue to be present. Although the cold is still contagious, it will be less contagious than the previous days. Continue to follow our guidelines from the first stage and try our recommended home remedies to ease the symptoms and recover fast.
Stage three: day 8-10
It's common for colds to last up to 10 days. These last two days you may still be coughing and perhaps have some congestion. However, most people barely have any more symptoms by day 8. At this point, the virus is very weak and although still contagious, it is much less contagious in comparison to the first few days.
If you feel good enough to go back to school or work, then by all means. Simply be aware of the tips we've listed above to avoid infecting anyone around you. If symptoms continue after 10 days, it's best to consult your doctor.
Best home remedies for the common cold
Although minor, common colds are bothersome and interfere with our everyday life. Here are some home remedies that can help you get rid of the common cold fast:
- Stay Hydrated: drink warm lemon water, natural juices, soup and water. This will help loosen the mucus in your nose and relieve congestion. Warm liquids are especially effective. Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and soft drinks, as they worsen dehydration.
- Rest: your body needs to heal and it needs you to give it time to do so. Avoid doing sports or being too busy. You will feel some fatigue, that's your body asking you to rest so it can fight the virus.
- Gargle: to soothe a sore throat, you can try gargling 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water.
- Saline nasal drops: over-the-counter saline nasal drops can help combat stuffiness.
- Drink warm liquids: warm liquids such as chicken soup, tea or warm lemon infused water can help ease congestion.
- Moisten the air: moistening the air can also help ease congestion. Try adding a cool-mist vaporiser or humidifier to add moisture to your home.
- Acetaminophen: For 6 months or younger, professionals recommend only giving acetaminophen. Nevertheless, for your child's health and safety, you must go to a doctor before giving any medication to your baby. Your doctor will have to calculate the correct dose for your child's age and weight.
- Hot shower or bath: taking a hot shower or a hot bath will help moisten the air and relieve your congestion. If will also clean your body and help you feel clean and relaxed. If possible, opt for a sauna and then a quick shower.
- Take a supplement: most people already take supplements to aid with their nutrition. This is even more important when one is sick. Taking a multi-vitamin supplement can help your body combat the virus. Don't forget to accompany this with a healthy diet.
- Massage your nose: this may seem bizarre but studies have shown that softly massaging your nose can help with congestion and, therefore, relieve you of some of the common cold symptoms. Try doing this when you're taking a hot bath or shower for the best results.
Even though common colds are very bothersome, they will naturally go away within 10 days. Using these home remedies will help you get rid of your cold even faster. Remember to get a lot of rest too as your body will need a lot of energy to fight off the virus. If you experience any abnormalities of the common cold, it's best to go see a doctor.
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This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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