It’s the cold season again, and you know it because your achy throat is warning you of the first sign of the sniffle onslaught.
Since not all Medicare plans cover over-the-counter medication, having an alternative plan for cold care is a good idea. What are some of the best alternative remedies to relieve the symptoms of a common cold?
According to the Mayo Clinic, though there is still no cure for the common cold, home remedies help to make cold sufferers comfortable as possible. Their suggestions include:
- Keep hydrated. Drinking juice, water, broth or warm lemon water help to “replace fluids lost in mucus production.”
- Rest. Yeah, we know you are busy and important, and the world won’t stop spinning without you running it. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you have fever or a bad cough, rest is what a compromised immune system needs to heal. Take the excuse, and take a day or two off to catch up on TV and napping.
- Chicken soup. It’s for more than the soul, as Granny knew. To read more on that, check out our follow up: “Chicken Soup Really is Good Medicine.”
- Saltwater for sore throat. Recommended: about ½ tsp of salt in 8 oz. of water, gargled (don’t swallow it) to help ease the pain of sore throat.
- Warm air, cool mist. Keep your room warm (not hot) and if the house is dry, use a vaporizer or humidifier to moisten the air.
- Saline nasal drops. These drops are safe and effective, even for children, the Mayo Clinic advises, and should help ease congestion.
- Try honey. To ease a cough, honey has been found to often be as effective as dextromethorphan. But never give honey to infants.
Mixed Results and Unproven Remedies
So what might not be worth the money or effort?
According to a study conducted by the Department of Infectious Disease at the Cleveland Clinic, the advice of inhaling steamy air “had no beneficial effect on cold symptoms.”
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic says that studies still have not shown conclusive results on the use of Vicks VapoRub: it is safe to use but will probably not relieve severe congestion.
Taking Vitamin C preventatively doesn’t seem to work, but taking it along with the onset of symptoms may shorten the length of time you suffer the symptoms. Taking too much vitamin C can cause severe diarrhea, a particular danger for elderly people.
Echinacea studies seem to give mixed results, possibly because of the variety and preparation of the plants. However, the experts say “using Echinacea supplements is unlikely to cause harm.”
Finally, the “miracle” remedy zinc, Mayo Clinic researchers say, is problematic since studies seemed to be flawed, they said. However, one important note was that intranasal zinc (zinc nose sprays) may cause permanent damage to the sense of smell.
When a Cough is More than a Cold
The mucus from a cold can often get infected and lead to deadly pneumonia. In seniors, a mild case deals a major blow to the immune system.
But pneumonia in the elderly in often even more of a problem, as they can be asymptomatic.
Be sure to see your doctor if you are coughing more than usual and or feeling rundown.