Americans spend $40 billion a year on medications to alleviate the symptoms of the common cold, even though research does not show that it is beneficial. Most people will improve within a week to ten days, regardless of whether they take over-the-counter or prescription medication. In fact, some of these drugs, such as decongestants and cough suppressants, may be doing more harm than good in the long run. Decongestants dry up your nasal passages, making it harder for your body to expel the mucous that is making you feel so miserable. Cough suppressants are working against your body in a similar way, keeping your body from coughing up mucous.
There are free natural alternatives that can help you feel better.
- Take a hot shower or bath to help with sore muscles and a congested head. I am always amazed at how much better I feel after a hot bath.
- Put a couple of inches of water in a pot and heat until it is steamy; then inhale the steam. This helps to clear your sinuses. It works especially well if you place the pot of steamy water on a table and put your head over the pot with a towel covering your head to trap the steam. If it feels too hot, lift the edge of the towel to let some heat escape.
- Drink warm liquids, such as herbal teas and chicken soup. This helps you breathe easier by thinning mucous.
- Avoid dairy products, which tend to create more mucous.
- Rest helps keep your immune system strong and helps it fight the infection.
Savings: A box of 20 decongestant tablets costs about $10 online, whereas a box of 20 herbal tea bags is $2 to $3.
This is an excerpt from Ecothrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life.