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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Home Remedies for Colds

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Don't let that nasty cold get the best of you. Take charge with simple do-it-yourself treatments that clear up your stuffy nose and soothe your scratchy throat.

No. 1: Drink Up!

Get plenty of fluids. It helps break up your congestion, makes your throat moist, and keeps you from getting dehydrated.

Most people should drink at least eight to 10 8-ounce glasses of fluid every day.

Need ideas for something to drink? Try water, sports drinks, herbal teas, fruit drinks, or ginger ale. Your mother's chicken soup might help, too!

No. 2: Make It Steamy!

You can loosen up your stuffy nose if you breathe in some steam. Hold your head over a pot of boiling water and breathe slowly through your nose. But be careful. Don't let the heat burn your nose.

You can also get some relief with a humidifier in your bedroom. Also try to take in some moisture from a hot shower with the door closed.

No. 3: Blow Your Nose

It's better than sniffling mucus back into your head. But make sure you do it the right way. If you blow hard, you'll send germ-carrying phlegm back into your ear passages, which can lead to an earache.

The best technique? Press a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other.

No. 4: Use Saline Spray or Salt-Water Rinse

Both can help break up the congestion in your nose. If you go the rinsing route, try this recipe:

  • Mix 3 teaspoons of iodide-free salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda.
  • Place in an airtight container.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 8 ounces of lukewarm boiled or distilled water.

Next, fill a bulb syringe with this solution (or use a Neti pot.) Lean your head over a basin and gently squirt the salt water into your nose. Hold one nostril closed by applying light finger pressure while squirting the mixture into the other nostril. Let it drain. Then treat the other nostril.

Always use distilled, sterile, or previous boiled water when you make this solution. Otherwise you might get an infection. Also, rinse the bulb or Neti pot after each use and leave open to air dry.

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