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5 Home Remedies for Colds

Is it covid? Is it the flu? Or is it just a common cold? If you have cold symptoms that are moderately severe and mega annoying, don't let them inconvenience you. Try out one or all of these home remedies and get yourself on the road to recovery!

It’s the coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and chills for me. Cold season is upon us and if you’re totally sure it’s not Covid or anything to be really concerned about, there are a few sure-fire ways you can soothe symptoms at home. Colds typically have to just run their course, but you don’t have to be miserable in the meantime.

Here are a few easy home remedies to try if you need to relieve cold symptoms.

1. Hydrate

Drink plenty of fluids. Water, tea, juice, and even an occasional ginger ale or sparkling beverage to ease tummy troubles. There’s something about 7Up when you’re sick that just hits different. Drinking plenty of water when you’re feeling under the weather can help keep feverish temperatures under control and help your body’s natural defenses stay in tip-top shape to keep out bacteria.

Increasing your water intake while you’re sick can also help your kidneys do their job of filtering out things you don’t need which can help you flush everything out a lot quicker. While you’re downing that cup of tea, just remember how much you’ll be thinning out the congestion and mucus that’s making you feel stuffed up. There is more than one appropriate situation in which to say, “Chug! Chug! Chug!”

2. Warm Compresses for Congestion

Congestion is caused when your lymph nodes block up and they can’t filter out all that mucus efficiently. Applying a hot compress to common congestion points such as sinuses, neck, and chest can help loosen things up. This can be done in a variety of ways and as often as you need to find some relief and to be able to breathe through your nose again.

The best way that I’ve found to do this is to take a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl and fill it with water. Microwave it for 2-3 minutes or until it’s as hot as you can stand it to be without burning yourself. Take a small washcloth, rag, or towel and soak it in the water for approximately 30 seconds and then wring out most of the water back into the bowl. Place the hot towel on those common congestion points and massage lymph nodes to promote draining.

Typically, when I’m feeling really stuffed up, I’ll do this 2-3 times a day in combination with 1-2 really hot showers. This is usually enough to get things moving again. Even when you’re not feeling sick, it’s a good idea to do this semi-regularly to keep everything draining. I am an especially phlegmy person naturally and find relief in doing hot compresses regularly. I credit the excess phlegm to the damp, dark conditions of the PNW, and as my mom would say, "It's The Oregon Crud!"

Don’t let mucus ruin your life! Drain those nodes!

3. Salt Water for Sore Throat

Salt has natural cleansing properties to it and works well to remove any bacteria that are lingering around and giving you a sore throat. Sometimes, when used early and often at the first sign of a sore throat, I can stop it in its tracks before symptoms get worse. Even if that’s not the case for you, gargling salt water can provide some temporary relief from a sore, scratchy throat.

Personally, I feel like this is most effective when salt is dissolved in warm water as opposed to cold water, but you do you, boo. Whatever floats your boat. I typically use the ratio of 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water. This provides enough salt to get the job done without being totally gross and leaving your mouth feeling overly salted.

Simply dissolve salt in water, toss it back and gargle it for a minute or two. Take some breaths in-between gargling and be sure to really get it as far back in your throat as you can without swallowing it. Spit out the saltwater and repeat as needed. I typically do this a few times a day when I’m sick and it works wonders!

Fair warning: if you have any cuts or canker sores present in your mouth, the saltwater mixture will find them and it will burn with the rage of a thousand suns. Be careful!

4. Vitamins

It’s well known that vitamin C is great for immune system support. You can get a boost in vitamin C naturally from eating oranges or strawberries or supplement it with a vitamin c tablet, chewable vitamin, or drink powder mix.

Intaking a little extra zinc won’t hurt either. Zinc is responsible for the healthy development and function of cells, which in turn helps the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses that may make us feel sick. Most commonly, zinc is available over-the-counter in the form of tablets, gummies, and powdered drink mixes.

Vitamin A helps kick immune-system cells into overdrive to fight off colds. This vitamin promotes a strong mucous barrier in places like your eyes, lungs, and gut so it’s harder for germs to take hold; they’ll get caught in the mucus which you then excrete through coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Better out, than in!

5. Sleep

Do you know how many hours of sleep you need to function properly? Tack on an extra couple of hours when you’re feeling sick to help your body heal faster. Our bodies make repairs and work harder to heal when we’re sleeping.

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to function properly. When you’re feeling sick, there’s no shame in sleeping 10-12 hours a day. Go into full hibernation mode and let your body do what it needs to do in order to recover.

If you’re having a hard time falling asleep (which if congested, can be a hard thing to do!) and you choose to take a sleep aid in the form of a melatonin supplement, be aware that in some people, melatonin can cause really bizarre dreams. This is because melatonin encourages your body to spend more time in REM sleep which is when the most vivid dreams occur.

I am one of these people that experiences super strange dreams when I take melatonin; any time I take melatonin, I am completely conked out and have super realistic, super weird dreams. This isn’t the case for everyone but if you’re plagued by nightmares when you sleep, a sleep aid may exacerbate those dreams.


The bottom line is, colds happen. With proper rest, hydration, and some symptom-relieving techniques, you should be able to kick that cold to the curb in no time! While cold remedies have evolved and developed over time, it all comes back to the classic saying we’ve all heard when we’re sick, “You need bed rest and fluids.” This is true. Sleep, hydrate, repeat till well.


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