When it comes to colds, treating things is a little complicated, because you generally need to treat each symptom separately. As your cold progresses from sore throat to runny nose and weepy eyes to cough to sneezing, you need to treat each of those symptoms.
But first, lets look at what you should be doing throughout your cold episode. The Mayo clinic has some suggestions about what actually works.
Stay hydrated with water, juice, warm lemon water with honey, clear broth.
You should sip warm liquids in general, according to the Mayo clinic. Chicken soup, warm apple juice and tea can all soothe you and ease congestion.
Don’t dehydrate yourself by drinking coffee, sodas (the ones with caffeine), and alcohol.
Rest so your body has the energy to deal with the infection.
Hydrate the air around you with a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier. This can be helpful for congestion — you might have noticed that when you take a shower or bath, or eat warm soup, or exercise, your congestion clears for a short time. NOTE: when using a machine like this, read the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The tools we use to improve our lives or do things for us can actually make them worse if we don’t sit down and take the time to learn how to use them properly. Machines are not always a quick fix — they’re tools that do jobs for us, and have their own cost to us. In this case, you need to clean the unit as instructed by the manufacturer; don’t blow dirty humid air into your environment. You need to clean the water in the unit daily as well. NOTE 2: The Mayo clinic does not recommend steam, because you risk burning yourself and it “hasn’t been shown to help.” However, the steam from a shower or sauna definitely clears my passages. I also have been able to get some relief from rewetting a facecloth with warm/hot water and putting it over my face and inhaling the steamy air.
NOW let’s look at some symptoms and how you can treat them. Over the course, you can expect (in order, generally) an unhealthy feeling, then fever, then headache, then blocked nose, then dry cough, then chest pain, then muscle pain, then fatigue/weakness, then exhaustion, then sneezing, then sore throat, then chest cough. The full course takes around 7-10 days, generally.
SORE THROAT: Gargle salt water. Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of salt into an 8-ounce glass of warm water. This can provide TEMPORARY relief. NOTE: kids under 6 aren’t likely to be able to gargle properly. Many adults also cannot gargle properly. It’s not weird.
You can also put other things in your mouth to ease a sore throat: lozenges (you can make these at home, which is fun and you will know every ingredient that goes into them–a recipe is at the bottom of the page). Hard candy can work. So can ice chips. CAUTION: kids under 4 might choke on hard objects in their throats. Ice melts relatively quickly in the body, but candies and lozenges don’t really melt quickly.
Irritated gums and teeth: Ice works for this, too, to a degree. Or a cool, icy smoothie filled with healthy nutrients, antioxidants, etc (for Smoothie recipes, see the bottom of the page). If any oral symptoms persist, you might also want to contact a Dentist in Woodbridge or a dentist closer to home for an expert opinion and some more oral relief strategies. Problems with your teeth and gums could indicate a wider overall health problem and a dentist could help to identify this.
STUFFY NOSE/THROAT: Saline nose drops/sprays can be purchased at the drug store without a prescription. Nasal sprays are fine for older children and adults, but little children can’t use them very well. For infants, saline drops can be put in their nose (several drops into a nostril). Then GENTLY suction the nostril with a bulb syringe by putting the tip of the syringe into the nostril (squeeze the syringe bulb BEFORE putting it in the nostril and hold it squeezed) about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch (6-12 mm) and slowly releasing the bulb, which will pull the saline out of the nose into the syringe.
SORE NOSE (from blowing it all the time): (These are not Mayo clinic suggestions) Obviously, dab your nose with SOFT (specially soft) tissue or cloth to reduce wear and tear on your sensitive facial organ. If your nose is dry and raw, you can apply cream moisturizer (a gentle face lotion or cream), vaseline, oil (like vitamin E oil). Use a pea-sized amount. Avoid steam, which clears your nasal passage but also dries out your skin, making it more easily irritated — the hotter the water, the more dry your skin will become.
PAIN: Infants under 6 months: ONLY acetaminophen. Older than that, you can use either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Your doctor can tell you the correct dose (based on age and weight). Adults can also take Aspirin besides the other two pain-relievers.
COUGH: You can get medications over the counter, such as decongestants, antihistamines (they stop allergy symptoms). Over the counter medications have side effects, such as drowsiness and other things to be aware of. Look at the side effects for any drug you put in someone’s body. Also, many medications have multiple drugs in them, so they require a little study to understand. But since you will likely get at least 1 cold per year for your healthy lifetime, and so will those around you, it is worth learning a bit of knowledge about this.
YOU can use, but doctors haven’t decided whether it helps (IT WON’T HURT, though, if you want to try it):
Vitamin C, Echinacea
DON’T — USE:
Antibiotics: A cold is a virus — not bacteria!
Zinc: the current verdict on Zinc is not recommended
Young CHILDREN (under age 6) should NOT — USE:
Cough and Cold Medications — including Over the Counter — because these can lead to serious and even life-threatening side effects.