Remedies for Colds, Cough, and Congestion

Knowing a few remedies for colds, cough, and congestion can help you recover more quickly and get you back on your feet! However, knowing what products are best for your symptoms can get confusing when you shop. There are literally thousands of different cold medications and cough syrups on the market. It's a must-have to figure out WHAT to take WHEN!

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Feeling lousy isn’t much fun and can literally stop you in your tracks! If you’re not feeling well, please have some consideration and stay home, especially if you work around other people. You may think you can’t afford to miss work but you could spread your germs! If you get your coworkers sick, they aren't going to be too happy with you!

There are some great OTC and home remedies for your symptoms. Because we’re all different though, we all have different needs. You may have to try out a couple of remedies for colds, cough, and congestion before you hit the nail on the head!

Some people may only need some basic home remedies their symptoms while others may need a combination of two or more. Either way, unless you have an infection, these remedies will work and are thankfully, quite inexpensive.

Important Sections on This Page

Runny Nose

Stuffy Nose

Dry Coughs

Wet Coughs
Sore Throats
(This section was turned into it's own page.)


General Tips

Decongestants and antihistamines are two of the most popular types of medicines you'll find at the store. In some medications, drying agents, acetaminophen, and cough suppressants may also be added. Its best to choose the remedies for colds, cough, or congestion with the ingredients best suited to combat your symptoms. Knowing what's used to treat your symptoms specifically, can give you quicker solutions. It'll also help you know what to take for which symptom, which will ease your confusion.

Remedies for Colds, Cough, and Congestion - Symptoms and Treatments

  • Runny nose – Use an antihistamine - Histamine is an important body chemical that is responsible for congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and itching. Antihistamine drugs block the action of histamine, which reduces symptoms. Antihistamines can make you drowsy but there are some day time remedies available that won’t knock you out.

  • Stuffy nose and head – Use a decongestant

    - Congestion in the sinuses and chest is due to swollen or dilated blood vessels in the membranes of the nose and airways. These membranes have an abundant supply of blood vessels, so once the membranes swell, you feel congested.

    Decongestants shrink the blood vessels and allow the air passages to open up. They are chemically related to adrenaline, which is a natural decongestant but also a stimulant. Side effects can be a jittery or nervous feeling, insomnia, and/or elevated blood pressure.

    - Some easy remedies for colds in the nose are putting a dab of Vicks vapor rub (mentholated salve) under your nose or just inside your nostrils and sitting up to help drain nasal passages. Menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor all have mild numbing ingredients that may help relieve the pain of a raw nose. You can also buy products like Vicks vapor inhaler which I use for nasal 'stuffiness', especially when my allergy symptoms flair.

    - Saline nasal sprays are also good to use for a stuffy head and unproductive nasal congestion. If you don’t have any saline nasal spray or a Neti pot on hand, you can also make your own saline solution and use it as a nasal rinse.

    Nasal Rinse - Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Stir and allow the salt to dissolve. Over the sink, use your fingers to close off one nostril. Draw in the salt water through the other nostril and then spit it out in the sink. (The salt water will come down your throat into your mouth.) Repeat on the other nostril. This may sound wicked but it really works well! The pastor of our church turned me onto it a long time ago. I’ve used this method successfully quite a few times over the years!

    - Hot tea, hot apple cider, and chicken soup can also open nasal passageways.

    - If your head is stuffy, sleep with your head elevated using a couple of pillows. Use a larger pillow to support your head and a smaller pillow to support your neck.

    - Cool and moisturize the air. Using a room-sized humidifier can relieve upper-respiratory infections/congestion, sore throats, and dry coughs. They help moisturize nasal and respiratory passages, which helps fight off infection. If you don’t have a humidifier, use a vaporizer, boil water on the stove, or inhale steam from a hot shower.

    - Breathe Right Strips work quickly to open up nasal passageways. Buy generic brands, which work just the same, to save money!

  • Dry coughs – Cough syrups suppress dry coughing, and many times contain dextromethorphan. When bronchial tubes are inflamed, you can get a persistent dry cough. However, don’t use cough suppressants if you’re coughing up mucus! These are called ‘productive coughs’ because you want to eliminate excess mucus from your body. If you use a suppressant, you could get much sicker than you already are!

    - You can make your own cough syrup at home. Hot lemonade with cayenne pepper and honey is one old remedy that works for unproductive coughs and sore throats! Add a few sprinkles of cayenne to hot liquids and sip. Honey and fresh lemon juice mixed with a cup of hot tea is also good. Or make a hot toddy with a cup of hot herbal tea and add one teaspoon of honey and one small shot (about 1 ounce) of whiskey or bourbon to the mix. Remember though, too much alcohol can inflame sinus membranes and is counterproductive. Rats!

    Here’s another version of a cough syrup you can make at home.

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T water

    Mix, drink.

  • Wet Coughs - Expectorants are best used for wet coughs. (In other words, you’re coughing up phlegm and have lots of congestion.) Expectorants thin mucus leading to the lungs, which makes it much easier to cough up and is extremely important for conditions that require the patient to cough up mucus, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

    Expectorants make coughing up mucus easier and less irritating, which relieves chest congestion so breathing is eased. The main ingredient in an expectorant is guaifenisin, available under many brand names like Mucinex. If the main problem is a wet cough, do not use preparations that contain other drugs, such as antihistamines, which dry up mucus and counteract the expectorant's mucus-freeing action.

  • Infections - If you think you have an infection, try taking olive leaf extract and/or oregano oil. Both have antimicrobial properties and perform like an antibiotic. Oregano oil is really good with colds and flues but you have to increase the dosage. Plus it is pretty cheap.

    - One of the best remedies for colds in particular, is to take Echinacea and Goldenseal at the first sign of a sniffle in megadoses, three times a day. Do not take Echinacea longer than one week though.

    Other home remedies for colds are taking extra doses of zinc and/or vitamin D and C. Garlic supplements also have antiviral properties.

    If you blow your nose and see color (yellow or green) in the phlegm that’s expelled, you may have an infection but not necessarily. If the color comes and goes, (clear at times, colored at other times) you’ve probably just got a virus. If the colored phlegm continues or gets darker, you probably do have a sinus infection and need antibiotics. If you're coughing up colored phlegm, you may have bronchitis or pneumonia and will definitely need antibiotics to feel better faster.

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    General Remedies for Colds, Cough, and Congestion

  • Rest is by far one thing you’ll surely need if you have an infection or a virus! Your body cannot fight them off if you don’t allow it time to heal. Healing occurs best when you’re sleeping or resting.

  • Keep your body warm as viruses are often accompanied by chills. If your body is sweating a lot, it’s a good sign that it’s fighting off an infection. If you want to help sweat out an infection, drink cinnamon tea. It takes about twenty minutes and lasts for about one hour in most folks. Diabetics should use caution as too much cinnamon can interact with some diabetic medications, like insulin.

    Keep warm even when you’re covered in sweat. If you take your blanket off prematurely, you may get the chills all over again.

  • Sneeze into your elbow to contain germs.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly each and every time you blow mucus from your nose or that you go out into the public. When you’re out and about, remember that germs lurk on lots of different surfaces. During your trip into town, don’t touch your fingers to your nose, eyes, or mouth and wash your hands thoroughly after you get home!

  • Blow your nose the right way. It's important to blow your nose regularly when you have a cold but blowing too hard can send germ ridden phlegm into your ear passages, which could cause an earache. The best way to blow your nose is to press one finger over one nostril while you gently blow the other nostril; then switch nostrils.

  • Drinking water or juice will prevent dehydration and keep your throat moist. It’s a remedies for colds, cough, and congestion must-have! You should drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water everyday but this is especially important when you’re sick! You can include fluids like sports drinks, herbal teas, juice, or ginger ale. Its best to avoid dark colored cola or drinks with caffeine because they can dehydrate you.

  • Chicken-based soups are one of the oldest remedies for colds, cough and congestion! Scientists put chicken soup to the test and discovered that it does help relieve cold and flu symptoms. It acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils; immune system cells that participate in the body's inflammatory response. It also temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, helping relieve congestion by limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining and by loosening thickened secretions.

  • There has been much controversy about whether to starve or feed a cold or flu. Newer studies show that your body needs energy (food) to fight off invading microbes. Restricting food intake can deplete your body's energy reserves and make it more vulnerable to infection. Just don't go hog wild. Mainly, just eat what your body craves. Your body is super smart and you should be too! And if you don't have an appetite, try protein shakes, which will give your body the protein you need, without eating. Crackers, rice, toast and applesauce are also bland foods that are easy to tolerate.

    Use these remedies for colds, cough, and congestion when you are confused about what to buy for your symptoms. Most of the time, simple viruses go away quickly with the proper care. Take care of yourself when you're not feeling well! The world will wait for you so rest, wrap up, and let tomorrow worry for itself!

    Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.

    Related Pages on This Site

    The Master Tonic – Remedy Ailments without Antibiotics!

    Sore Throat Pain Relief – Home Remedies and Concoctions

    Fight the Flu Naturally – Smart Ways to Feel Better Faster!

    The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

    How to Decrease Inflammation to Improve Your Health

    The Benefits of Phytonutrients for Health and Aging

    Seasonal Allergy Treatments – Know When to Take Medications


    Should You Feed a Cold and Starve a Fever?

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