There’s a good reason it’s called the “common cold”. Adults get colds an average of two times a year, and children usually come drown with them a lot more often. Yet in some ways the common cold is unique. Experts have identified more than 200 viruses that can cause colds, and the viruses are changing all the time. Even when your immune system learns to recognize one virus, there’s always a different strain waiting to take its place.
Doctors have been trying for years – without success to find a cure for the common cold. In the meantime, there’s a lot you can do to reduce the symptoms and help your body get well.
Take some echinacea . Echinacea is an herb that’s renowned for its ability to strengthen the immune system. In fact, doctors in Europe recommend Echinacea as much or more than some prescription drugs. You can buy Echinacea in capsule, liquid, or even tea form at health stores. Follow the directions on the label and take it as needed. Make sure you take it at the onset of a cold, however, it’s much more effective in preventing colds that are “on their way in” than colds “on their way out.”
Put vitamin C to work . This powerful vitamin has been shows to help neutralize the effects of harmful oxygen molecules in the body that can weaken the immune system. Studies suggest that getting lots of vitamin C can help relieve cold symptoms and shorten the length of time colds stick around. You can get a lot of vitamin C in your diet, when you’re sick you may want to take a supplement. For colds, experts recommend taking 500 milligrams (or more) of vitamin C a day.
A chicken in every pot . For years, people have sworn that chicken soup helps relieve congestion and other cold symptoms. Modern research suggests it really can make a difference –and what a wonderful, comforting home remedy it is! When you feel the sniffles coming on, make a big pot of chicken soup and enjoy it all day long. (Canned soup may help, but the homemade kind probably works better.) As an added benefit, sipping the hot liquid will help loosen congestion in your nose and throat, which will help you, breathe more easily.
Some like it hot. Research has shown that eating spicy foods, like chili, hot peppers, or cayenne, can help break up congestion so you can breathe more easily. Even if you aren’t in the mood for Mexican, Indian, or other spicy cuisines, you can get quick nose relief by mixing about a quarter teaspoon of hot pepper powder in a glass of water and drinking it down. You can also buy cayenne capsules in health food stores.
Keep the fluids flowing . To ease the scratchy throat and dry eyes that often accompany colds, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water – at least eight to twelve glasses a day. Getting more fluids – not only water but fruit or vegetable juices too – will help thin mucus in your nose and chest, so you’ll feel more comfortable.
Keep your hands clean . The viruses that cause colds can live on the hands for a long time. Washing your hands several times a day is one of the best ways to prevent colds. Even if you’re already sick, washing your hands will help prevent cold virus from reinfecting you and prolonging the misery.
Take a long shower . A long, steamy bath or shower can work wonders for sore, crampy muscles that often accompany colds. And, the steam will help thin and loosen secretions in your airways, so that you can breathe more easily/.
Think about zinc . Research has shown that zinc lozenges can help sore throats heal more quickly and reduce the amount of time that you’ve sick – in some cases by as much as several days, doctors say. Ask your pharmacist about where you can obtain these pain-tamers.