An Easy Way to Battle the Common Cold

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I don’t need to look at a calendar to know that cold season has arrived in my house. Runny noses, sneezing and coughing are the norm since my daughter recently started preschool again. I love this time of year for the cooler weather and changing leaves. But in some ways I dread it because at least one person in my family always seems to be sick from October through January.

We practice good habits like regular hand washing to ward off some of the germs. But no matter how hard I try, it’s inevitable that my kids will get sick at least some time in the next few months. Once they do, it’s anyone’s guess how long the symptoms will last. Sometimes it’s just a day or two, but other times, the stubborn germs seem to hang on for weeks. I’m always looking for easy ways to speed up the healing process that don’t involve medication (when that’s possible.) Recently I read about one simple technique that could prevent us from experiencing some of those common cold symptoms. I think it’s worth a try.

A 2005 study, published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, followed 400 people for 60 days during cold and flu season. One group was told to gargle with salt water three times a day. "At the end of the study period, the group that regularly gargled had a nearly 40 percent decrease in upper respiratory tract infections compared with the control group, and when they did get sick, "gargling tended to attenuate bronchial symptoms," the researchers wrote."

Medical experts say a saline solution can loosen thick mucus and draw excess fluid from inflamed tissue in the throat, easing cough and cold symptoms. The technique sounds simple, according to the Mayo Clinic: dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water and gargle the solution for a few seconds before spitting it out. Even if it doesn’t help, it’s a simple, inexpensive, and worth a try.

Check out Self-Care Tips for Sick Days for other ways to fight off germs this season. And if you are one of the unlucky ones who end up getting it, Beat the Flu! Here’s How.

What simple things do you do to prevent sickness during the winter months? If you do get sick, do you have any tricks for a speedy recovery?