Common Cold Remedies: The True and the False

Chicken Soup Common Cold Remedies

Many people will try just about anything to get rid of a nasty cold, and for good reason. The symptoms of a cold are enough to make most people feel pretty icky at best. Common cold symptoms are usually enough to keep parents out of work and kids out of school.

Common cold remedies are about as common as dirt. It seems that everyone and their grandmother knows of at least a few tried and true cold remedies. Common cold remedies range from perfectly plausible to absolutely ridiculous. (Cow dung or kerosene anyone?)

While it’s great to have a choice of common cold remedies, do you know which ones could possibly work to relieve your symptoms and which ones are pure poppycock?

1. Starve a fever, feed a cold.


I’ve heard this saying since I was a kid, and to tell you the truth, it never really made much sense to me. As it turns out, you really shouldn’t “starve” any virus. A healthy diet actually supports and strengthens the body’s immune system. Starving any illness can actually make it a little harder to get rid of and prolong the symptoms.

2. Chicken soup can help fight a cold.


This has been touted as one of the best common cold remedies for centuries. People have gone back and forth for years arguing over whether it actually did any good as a cold remedy. As it turns out, chicken soup may actually work as a cold remedy on a few different levels. First, the steam from the soup can help relieve inflammation in nasal passages and relieve a stuffy nose. The broth can help fight dehydration and soothe a sore throat. Finally, homemade chicken soup is packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, which can help give the immune system a nice boost.

3. Antibiotics can help cure the common cold.


If you truly have a cold, then antibiotics will do precisely nothing. Antibiotics are meant to fight off bacterial infections, and the common cold is caused by a virus. In fact, taking antibiotics can actually make a viral infection like the cold worse. These medications can actually kill good bacteria in the body, which help the immune system function properly. Overusing antibiotics has also contributed to the creation of stronger resistant strains of bacteria.

4. Take vitamin C to shorten the length of a cold.


This is one of the common cold remedies that sounds like it might make sense, since vitamin C can give your immune system a boost. However, taking vitamin C when you have a cold will most likely do very little. It’s a better idea to take vitamin C at the first signs of a cold; some studies have shown that doing so can shorten the duration of a cold.

5. Drink tea with honey and lemon.


Actually, drinking anything when you have a cold is a good idea. Liquids, including tea, can help fight dehydration during your illness. The warmth of the tea can also soothe a sore throat and clear a stuffy nose. Honey and lemon both have medicinal properties of their own.

6. Kids should take over the counter medicine when they have a cold.

False…sort of

Unless your child has a fever or is extremely uncomfortable, over the counter cold medications may not be necessary when your little one has a cold. Before you reach for the cough syrup, it’s best to discuss your options with your child’s pediatrician. While they won’t hurt your child if used properly, they may not do much good.

7. Humidifiers can help cold symptoms.


A humidifier can actually help relieve common cold symptoms. The steam released by the humidifier adds moisture to the air. This moisture can help thin mucus, relieving a stuffy nose, as well as moisturize dry mucus membranes, soothing a sore throat.

What are your favorite common cold remedies?


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