Cold & Cough Home Remedies

Colds and coughs are commonly associated with upper respiratory tract infections. An acute cough and the common cold last between one and two weeks. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults suffer from colds approximately two to four times per year; children suffer from colds between six and 10 times. No cure exists for the common cold and for coughs associated with it. Antibiotics do not fight cold or cough, and are not beneficial. Home remedies are non-pharmacological ways to decrease symptoms and improve comfort for someone suffering from a cold or cough.


A person suffering from a cold and cough should consume increased amounts of liquids to counteract the loss of fluids due to mucus production and fever, suggests the Mayo Clinic. Water, juice, hot teas and soups are recommended. Chicken soup may have additional health benefits when fighting a cold. According to the Mayo Clinic, chicken soup has anti-inflammatory agents and also increases mucous movement through the nasal passageways, decreasing congestion. The warm soup also relieves a dry, scratchy throat associated with an acute cough. Avoid consuming coffee, soda or alcohol; these beverages will continue to dehydrate the body.


Increase moisture in the air to sooth a dry throat and congestion, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center. Use a home vaporizer or humidifier in common used rooms; place the machine next to the couch while watching television or near the bed while sleeping. Add several drops of eucalyptus or menthol essential oil to a vaporizer machine for additional relief. If a vaporizer or humidifier is not available, taking a hot shower and inhaling the steam will also temporarily relieve cough and cold symptoms. The shower should be hot enough that the mirrors in the bathroom fog up. Steaming the nasal passageways by boiling water and holding the head above the steam is also recommended to clear congestion and add moisture to the upper respiratory system.


A 2007 study by Penn State College of Medicine, led by Dr. Ian Paul, suggests honey as an alternative to over-the-counter cough suppressants. Honey reduced the severity and frequency of nighttime cough better than dextromethorphan, or DM, a common ingredient in cough medications. Honey also increased the quality of sleep in patients. A person suffering from a cough generally has decreased quality of sleep. Honey should not be administered to children under a year old due the risk of infant botulism, reports the University of Rochester Medical Center.

About this Author

Freelance writer Julie Hampton has worked as an artist, writer and event planner for more than eight years. She also served in the U.S. Army as a medic and nurse specializing in geriatrics. Hampton has a degree in journalism, and studied public relations at The University of West Florida.