Cold & Flu Prevention

10 Natural Ways to Fight the Common Cold

The HealthCentral Editorial Team Mar 28, 2012 (updated May 20, 2014)
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10 natural ways you can help your body fight the common cold.

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Have you already caught your first cold this season?
Have you already caught your first cold this season?
You know the symptoms all too well -- the tickle in the back of your throat, the sneezing, the sinus pressure. Sadly, that first cold of the season has hit you and you know you're going to spend the next few days under seige.Though there's no cure for colds, there are some things you can do to ease your symptoms. Here are 10 natural ways you can help your body fight the common cold.
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Stay rested and warm
Stay rested and warm
When you're sick, your body has to direct all its resources to helping the immune system fight infection.Staying home from work or taking other steps that ensure you're getting enough rest can help your body better manage this task. Staying warm also helps make the body's immune battle easier.
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Drink juice or water
Drink juice or water
Drinking juice or water not only thins congestion, it also keeps your throat moist and helps prevent dehydration.However, try to avoid drinks that contain caffeine such as cola, coffee, or tea since caffeine can help contribute to dehydration.
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Take a hot shower
Take a hot shower
Taking a nice, hot shower helps you feel both clean and relaxed, even on days when you're not dealing with a miserable cold.But when you are, steam from a shower can also help break up congestion and relieve that runny nose.
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Use an extra pillow
Use an extra pillow
If you're a one-pillow sleeper, you might try adding an extra pillow while you're nursing your cold.Sleeping at more of an angle will help your nasal passages stay more open.
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Drink hot beverages
Drink hot beverages
Colds can make your nose and throat irritated, and nothing eases this better than a hot drink.Hot beverages, like other beverages, also help fight dehydration and thin congestion to make it easier for your body to deal with.
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Take vitamin C
Take vitamin C
A lot of people believe taking vitamin C can keep them from getting colds. But the truth is that there is actually very little evidence that taking vitamin C can prevent colds and flu.However, some studies have found that taking vitamin C can help shorten the duration of a cold once you have it, particularly if you take a "megadose" (about 8 g) the first day you get sick.
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Try nasal rinsing
Try nasal rinsing
Using nasal irrigation to cleanse the sinus cavities can help get rid of germs and bacteria in this area.Using a nasal irrigator can also help break up congestion, which can work to relieve that "packed-in" sinus pressure feeling that often comes with the common cold.
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Gargle with salt water
Gargle with salt water
To relieve your sore irritated throat, try gargling with about a half a tablespoon of salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of water.Gargling also thins congestion, draws excess fluid from the inflamed tissues of the throat (thus easing pain), and removes allergens and fungi from the throat.
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Use hot compresses around your sinuses
Use hot compresses around your sinuses
Using a hot compress can help ease those sore, congested sinuses.You can use a number of different kinds of compresses, including reusable compresses for sale at your local drugstore. Or you can make one yourself from a wet washcloth placed in a microwave for a few seconds.
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Blow your nose correctly
Blow your nose correctly
Most of us have had the experience of blowing our noses and feeling the congestion suddenly "crackling" in our ears. While it's important to blow your nose often when you have a cold in order to clear germ-carrying phlegm out of your system, you can avoid forcing mucous into your ears by holding one nostril closed as you gently blow the other. Then repeat this with the other nostril.
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