Posted on 4th Nov 2022

With winter almost around the corner, we can expect cooler temperatures to take over, along with seasonal cold, cough, and flu. If you have stayed up all night during winters, thanks to a stuffy/runny nose, headaches, and persistent coughing, you will know how uncomfortable and irritating colds are.

Common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat). It is usually harmless and heals on its own. However, it can cause a lot of discomfort and interfere with our day-to-day activities. While common cold cannot be cured, there are certain remedies and medications that will help relieve the symptoms and ease discomfort, for a speedy recovery. Most people recover from a common cold within a week to 10 days. However, if the symptoms last longer than that, it is important to seek medical attention.

Symptoms of Common Cold:

The signs and symptoms of cold can vary from person to person with the most common ones being:

  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Wet or dry cough
  • Body ache
  • Mild headache or pressure in the head
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue
  • Mild fever, in some cases

You can quickly recover from a cold if you focus on treating and relieving the symptoms.

Treating Cold and Cough:

As mentioned earlier, there is no cure for common cold. In most cases, people suffering from cold get better on their own, without any treatment. However, there are remedies and medicines that can target the symptoms and provide relief. Some symptoms such as cough might linger even after the cold is gone. You can get relief from common cold through home remedies, as well as medications.

Home Remedies to treat cold:

Ginger: The health benefits of ginger are innumerable. Ginger has been used as an herbal remedy for colds for centuries. It has medicinal properties that reduce inflammation and soothe sore throat. It also curbs feelings of nausea that often accompanies cold or flu.

Honey: It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and can ease the pain caused by sore throat. Honey is also an effective cough suppressant that can be used to cure dry cough.

Garlic: Garlic contains a compound known as allicin, which may have anti-microbial properties. Consuming garlic regularly may also reduce the severity of the cold symptoms.

Soups: While a soup may not play an active role in curing cold, it makes for a great food choice when sick. Apart from the soup providing a warm, soothing sensation to the throat, it may also slow the movement of neutrophils (type of white blood cell that protect the body from infection). When these neutrophils move slowly, they stay more concentrated in the areas that require healing.

Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits such as limes, oranges, and grapefruits, along with several other leafy greens are a great source of vitamin C, that helps relieve upper respiratory tract infections. Adding a few drops of lemon juice into hot tea with honey helps expel phlegm.
You can also turn to remedies such as steam inhalation, humidifiers, and saltwater gargle to clear nasal passages and relieve congestion.

Medications to treat cold:

Pain Killers: As the name itself suggests, these medicines relieve pain caused due to sore throats, nasal congestion, and pressure. These medicines are also known as pain relievers. You can either use over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or consult your doctors for stronger prescription pain killers.

Decongestant Nasal Sprays: Decongestant sprays work by thinning the mucus in the nasal passages, allowing for easier drainage. Adults can use nasal sprays for up to 3 or 4 days. Excessive usage of nasal sprays may lead to rebound congestion. Talk to your doctor before using nasal sprays in children.

Cough Syrups: Cough syrups are mainly classified into two types – expectorants and suppressants, depending on the type of cough. Suppressants work by blocking the cough reflex and are best suited for dry coughs. Expectorants are used in case of productive cough, to thin the mucus for easy drainage. While a cough and cold syrup may provide temporary relief, they may also contain ingredients that cause other side effects. You can use cough syrups such as the Cofsils syrup for dry cough or wet cough, depending on your symptoms, for instant relief.

Cough drops and lozenges: These are small, medicated tablets that release medicine to temporarily stop cough and soothe the irritated tissues of the throat. They also come in different flavours to add a pleasant taste to the medicine. Some flavours also have their own benefits that aid in recovery.
While you may get temporary relief from using over-the-counter medicines, they also have their own drawbacks. Many cough syrups and decongestants may contain active ingredients that are not required for your treatment, and may cause several side effects. This is why, it is better to research and understand the type of medicines you need to consume, and make sure that check the label at the back of the medication to ensure that you are choosing the right one. However, if you aren’t sure of what medication would work best for you, it is better a consult your doctor for advice.