Excerpt: 'Mayo Clinic's Book of Home Remedies'

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At the back of the book is an Emergency Care section that provides quick referral to information you'll need in the event of an emergency, be it stroke, heart attack, poisoning or bone fracture. Your decisive action during an emergency can be the difference between life and death.

Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies is based on the premise that there are many things you can do at home to stay healthy, relieve symptoms, improve emotional health, feel invigorated and enjoy a higher quality of life. It's our sincere hope that this book provides you with an important resource in achieving this complete approach) to good health.

Home Remedies for the Common Cold

You may not cure the common cold but you can make yourself more comfortable with these tips:

Drink lots of fluids

Water, juice and tea are all good choices. They help replace fluids lost during mucus production or fever. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can cause dehydration, and cigarette smoke, which can aggravate your symptoms.

Try Chicken Soup

Generations of parents have spooned chicken soup into their sick children, and scientists have found that it does seem to help relieve symptoms in two ways. First, it has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce mucus production in your respiratory tract. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose, helping relieve congestion and limiting the time that viruses are in contact with the nasal lining.

Get some rest

If possible, stay home from work if you have a fever or bad cough, or are drowsy from medications. Rest is important to speeding recovery.

Adjust the room's humidity

If the air is dry, a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease sinus congestion and coughing. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean and regularly change the filter to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds.

Soothe your throat

Gargling with warm salt water several times a day or drinking warm lemon water mixed with honey may help soothe your sore throat and relieve the coughing spells.

Use saline nasal drops

Saline drops are effective, safe and non-irritating - even for children - for the relief of nasal congestion. The drops can be purchased over-the-counter in most drugstores. To use in babies, put several drops into a Nostril, then immediately bulb suction that nostril.

Try andrographis

There is some evidence this Indian herb can reduce the severity and duration of upper respiratory infections. It may also reduce your risk of getting a cold. The herb seems safe when used short-term.

Try echinacea

While no studies have shown that this herb can prevent a cold, there is some evidence that it can modestly relieve cold symptoms or shorten the duration of a cold. Echinacea seems most effective when taken soon after cold symptoms appear.

Get your vitamin C

Despite popular belief, there's no evidence that taking large doses of vitamin C reduces your risk of a cold. However, there's evidence that high doses of vitamin C ? up to 6 grams a day - may have a small effect in reducing the duration of cold symptoms.

Consider zinc

There's some evidence that zinc lozenges taken at the beginning of a cold may help reduce symptoms. The claim that zinc nasal sprays are helpful is controversial. In general, the use of these sprays is discouraged because many people have experienced permanent loss of smell following use.

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