What is Cold?Cold is the most common illness that affects infants and elderly alike. Unlike the contrary belief, cold weather is not the cause of colds. There are 200 types of viruses, which cause cold. The common cold is usually mild with symptoms of running nose, sneezing and throat sore. The symptoms may last for one or two weeks. Cold is common among the children and declines with age. On an average people may get 2 to 4 colds per year depending on their body's immunity.
Common Causes of Cold
Viruses (especially, rhinoviruses and coronaviruses)
Person to person (through cough, sneezing or hand contact)
Home Remedies for Cold in Infants1. Lots of rest - Resting conserves energy in the body. Infants, when allowed to sleep well, are able to activate their immune system to tackle the infection.
2. Drink lots of fluids - Babies younger than 6 months should drink breast milk/formula. No water should be given, since it may create an electrolyte imbalance in the body. An oral electrolyte solution, designed for infants, may be given. A glass of warm lemon water can keep the body hydrated and give relief from cold.
3. Saline nasal drops - A saline solution can be sprayed or used as drops in the nose to clear out the mucus in the nasal passages, and thus relieve congestion. (Homemade saline nasal drops: 1 cup of warm water + ½ tsp salt. Use within 24 hours to avoid bacterial contamination.)
4. Vapor rubs - May be used for massaging on the neck, back, and chest in infants older than 3 months. Baby-safe balms such as eucalyptus, petrolatum, and other oils can be used for infants less than 2 years of age.
Home Remedies for Cold in Toddlers
1. Lots of rest
2. Drink lots of fluids - Warm milk, water, diluted juice
3. Saline nasal drops
4. Honey for cough - Honey can be given to children older than 12 months. Half a teaspoon can be given to children between 2 and 5 years of age, 1 tsp for children of 6-11 yrs of age, and 2 tsps for children older than 12 yrs.
5. Resting with the head elevated - This is done for children older than 12 months. When children sleep in a slightly, inclined, raised position, it clears the nasal passage by improving mucus drainage. Children can breathe easily and sleep better. Towels can be rolled up and placed below the mattress, to provide an incline.
6. Salt water gargling - Children, older than 4 yrs, can gargle with salt water as a remedy for sore throat. (Homemade salt water for gargling: 1 glass of warm water + ½ tsp salt. Squeezing a bit of lemon juice adds to the soothing effect.)
7. Nose blowing - This can be done in children, older than 2 yrs, to clear out the nasal passage. A bulb syringe may be used when the child is unable to blow on his/her own.
8. Use of humidifier/vaporizer/steamy bath - A humidifier or vaporizer creates humidity in a dry room. The nasal passages become moist, and mucus starts to clear away, making breathing easier. Addition of menthol to a steamy bath has a similar effect. Children should be kept in a steamy bath for 15 minutes to experience the soothing effect on the nasal passages.
9. Vapor rubs - Camphor or menthol may be used in children older than 2 years of age. Natural vapor balms such as aloe, beeswax, herbal oils, and other essential oils may be used.
10. Neti pot - Can be used in children older than 4 years. It is a ceramic or metal teapot or watering can, which is filled with saline solution and can be used to wash the nose. Liquid poured into one nostril will flow out from the other.
11. Soothing food for a scratchy throat - Chicken soup, apple juice, mild lukewarm chamomile tea, popsicles, ice cream, and puddings may provide a soothing effect on a sore throat. This can be given to children older than 6 months.
Home Remedies for Cold in Adults
1. Lots of rest
2. Steam inhalation
3. Vapor rubs
4. Neti pot
5. Honey for cough
6. Resting in reclining position
7. Nose blowing
8. Salt water gargling
9. Soothing food for scratchy throat
10. Drink lots of fluids - Herbal tea such as chamomile, peppermint, elder flowers, and rose hips.
11. Humidifier/steamy bath
12. Use of vitamins and supplements
Home Remedies for Cold in Pregnant Women
1. Lots of rest
2. Reclining position
3. Steam inhalation - Helps clear out the nasal passage.
4. Drink lots of fluids - Vitamin C juices (e.g., orange juice), decaffeinated liquids, broths, etc.
5. Salt water gargling - Very effective for sore throat. (Homemade salt water: 1tsp salt + 1 cup of warm water)
6. Prenatal vitamins - Zinc in vitamins can fight germs, while vitamin C stimulates the immune system. The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) recommends 40 mg of vitamin C per day.
8. Use light clothes and covers
9. Eat fresh garlic - Garlic has anti-viral properties. Cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves have similar anti-viral properties and should be used in cooking.
Herbal Tea for Cold
Dried chrysanthemum (2 parts) should be added to boiling water. Pour the mix over peppermint (1 part), and steep for 5 minutes. Brown sugar is added for taste.
Ginger for Common Cold
Ginger Cinnamon Tea
1 cup boiling water + 3-4 half-inch slices of ginger + 1 stick of cinnamon + a squirt of lemon +brown sugar to taste. Should be consumed twice a day.
Steam Inhalation for Common Cold
Homemade solution: 1 cup boiling water + a pinch of baking soda + ¼ tsp salt. Inhale the steam by bending over the container, and covering the head and the vessel with a towel, to prevent steam from escaping.
Red Onion for Common Cold
Instant Cough Syrup:
1. Cover the sliced red onion with sugar or honey and leave overnight. Drink 1 tsp juice 3-8 times a day.
2. Juice of a big red onion + 1 tsp honey. Drink small doses frequently. Avoid large doses.
Saute minced onion in a little oil and mix in 1 cup vinegar. Add cornmeal to form a thick paste. Place in a muslin cloth, fold, and cover to retain the heat. Apply the warm pack to the throat/chest area. Cover with a towel or blanket and keep for 15 minutes.