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Rest is best

feet sticking out past the bed

One of the single most important things you can do for a cold is to rest. 1,2

Stop smoking 2,4

woman breaking cigarette in half

If you smoke, try to stop or cut back, at least until you are feeling better. 4 Stay away from other smokers; inhaling their smoke will further irritate the throat and make one cough even more. 4

Drink plenty of fluids 1,2

boy drinking water from glass

It is important to stay well hydrated as this helps: 3,4

  • Your body fight the infection 3
  • Keep the lining of the nose and throat from drying out 4
  • Keep your mucus runny (hard mucus is difficult to get rid of!) 3,4

Avoid caffeine and alcohol 2,4

red wine being poured into glass

Avoid coffee, tea or soft drinks that contain caffeine. Also avoid any drinks that contain alcohol. 4

Caffeine and alcohol lead to dehydration, the opposite of what your body needs to recover. 4

Eat nutritious food 1

bowl of food including: bananas, oranges, dried seeds, berries and granola

When your body fights an illness it needs energy, so eating healthy food is helpful. Fevers are part of your body’s way of fighting a virus and the increased body temperature raises your energy demand. For this reason, taking in calories is important.

Steam therapy

woman smiling steaming face

Use a bowl of hot water and place a towel over your head. 5 Inhaling the warm steam can moisten and loosen dried mucus, making it easier to cough up or blow out. 6,7 Be careful not to burn yourself or your child with the hot water. 5

Comfortable environment

humidifier emitting vaporised water

A humidifier can help you feel more comfortable 1 as it ensures adequate humidity, which helps to soothe irritated nasal and throat tissues and helps to eliminate nasal secretions by preventing dryness. 2

Gargle with warm salt water 1,7

lime, glass of water and salt

Gargling with warm saltwater (half teaspoon salt in one cup of water) helps to soothe a sore throat. 1

Keep head raised

woman smiling sitting up in bed

Positioning the mattress at a 45° angle 2 or sleeping on raised pillows can help to drain mucus and ease congestion and coughing.

Petroleum jelly

petroleum jelly on finger

Rubbing petroleum jelly or some other lubricant under the nose will prevent irritation from frequent nose blowing. 7 It can also be used to treat raw, chapped skin around the nose and lips.

References: 1. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Common Cold. [online] 2016 [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: 2. Buensalido JAL, Wallace MR. Rhinovirus (RV) Infection (Common Cold). MedScape [online] 2017 Sep 11 [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: 3. Fischetti M. Fact or Fiction? Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever. [online] 2014 Jan 3 [cited 2018 Mar 26]. Available from: URL: 4. American Lung Association. Facts About The Common Cold. [online] [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: 5. BMJ Best Practice. Patient information from the BMJ Group.  Common cold. [online] [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: 6. Saketkhoo K, Januszkiewicz A, Sackner MA. Effects of Drinking Hot Water, Cold Water, and Chicken Soup on Nasal Mucus Velocity and Nasal Airflow Resistance. Chest 1978;74(4): 408-410. 7. John Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Common Cold. [online] [cited 2018 Mar 22]. Available from: URL:,P00620/#.WRAoWaPVQnk.evernote.

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