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Cold and Flu Center

Remedies for Bad Colds

author image Anna Lisa Somera
Anna Lisa Somera is a life science professional, marathoner and triathlete. She holds a MPH and MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a MS in anatomy and cell biology from Rush University. She has been published in peer reviewed medical journals and helped drive the formation of several life science start-ups.
Remedies for Bad Colds
Treating a bad cold

Every year, millions of Americans experience the common cold. Symptoms of a cold include a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, a sore throat, cough and headache. More than 200 viruses can cause the condition, which can occur any time of the year. There is no cure for the common cold, and sometimes when the symptoms are bad, people buy over-the-counter products or create their own remedies at home for a quick recovery.

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Chicken Soup

Although it has become a cliche, giving people chicken soup when they have a bad cold may improve their symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, scientific evidence shows that chicken soup has a number of substances with medical benefits that affects a person’s immune system. The soup may help relieve symptoms by acting as an anti-inflammatory that inhibits neutrophil movement, or the cells that participate the body’s inflammatory responses such as mucus production. The vitamins and the steam from the soup may also have a positive effect on the body as well.


While a bad cold can happen any time of the year, it most often occurs during the winter. Dry air during this season is an environment that cold viruses to thrive in. The air can cause a scratchy throat and a stuffy nose since it dries out mucous membranes. Simply using a humidifier in your home may help moisten the air and your mucous membranes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Change the water in the machine daily because mold, fungi and bacteria may grow inside if it is not cleaned properly.


While a humidifier may help moisten the air you breathe at home, drinking plenty of liquids may help as well, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It is important to hydrate your body, which is usually in need of more fluids during a bad cold. Water, juice or warm water with lemon and honey may help loosen congestion from mucus while preventing dehydration. Avoiding diuretics such as alcohol, coffee or sodas are also advised as they worsen dehydration.

Salt Water

Sometimes a bad cold can give you a sore throat. When sucking on throat lozenges or hard candy does not help, try gargling with ¼ to ½ tsp. of salt dissolved in an 8 oz. glass of warm water several times a day. It may help soothe a sore or scratchy throat, according to the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. Saline nose drops may also help with nose congestion by loosening the mucus in these passages.

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