Home cold and flu remedies

It is virtually impossible to see winter through without catching a cold here in the UK, but there are tons of effective treatments to stop the sniffles in their tracks and save money in the process. Read on for great cold-busting cures…

Adapt your diet

Eating and drinking healthily is essential for fighting off a cold. The NHS says it's best to eat a low-fat, high-fibre diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables - think fruit smoothies and wholesome meals. They also point to evidence that links zinc supplements to a faster recovery, so try eating more zinc-rich food like meat, shellfish, cheese or bread. Your parents were right about good old chicken soup! Hot honey and lemon is also a lovely, soothing drink for a sore throat.

Follow simple advice

When it comes to colds, rest is best. The NHS website recommends the following basic tips for staving off a cold:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost with a runny nose and sweating
  • Get lots of rest and gargle with salt water to relieve a sore throat

Health shop Holland and Barrett's website says:

  • Taking a high dose of vitamin C at the start of symptoms could help shorten a cold
  • A vitamin D supplement can help your body fight infections

Patient.co.uk advises steam inhalation to relieve a cold - i.e. sitting in the bathroom while a hot shower is running.

Clever cold tips

Did you know there is a correct way to blow your nose? According to the Boots WebMD website, blowing your nose too hard can actually push phlegm into the tubes of the ears and create ear problems. Instead, close one nostril with a finger and blow one nostril gently at a time. A further tip is saline nose rinsing, which is a fantastic method for cleaning bacteria within the nose. Either buy a ready-made solution from a pharmacy or make one at home with the Boots WebMD how-to guide.

Cold remedies in pregnancy

Treating cold symptoms during pregnancy can be tricky due to advice surrounding medicines. However, the NHS website states that paracetamol is safe for use in pregnancy at a low dose for a short time. Along with rest, increasing fluids and eating healthily, a good tip for pregnant women is to increase humidity in the bedroom. Holland and Barrett's website says a humidifier can help by warming the air to moisten and clear your airways. Mother and Baby recommends steam inhalation over a bowl of hot water with a towel covering the head to loosen mucus.

Top cold treatments for children

When babies and children catch a cold it can really disturb their sleep, so it's good to have a few cold remedies on hand. The NHS suggests using liquid paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain or discomfort, while vapour rubs such as Vicks can help to open the airways; just rub a little onto their chest or back but avoid the nostril area. They also advise giving a child older than one year an extra pillow to raise their head to help breathing; this should be placed under the mattress. For babies, place books under the cot legs to raise the head end of the cot. Saline nasal drops or spray are great for unblocking your little one’s nose, and remember to give them plenty of fluids.   

You will be blowing that cold away in no time!