While there is no cure for the common cold, the Mayo Clinic advises staying hydrated, eating chicken soup and taking over-the-counter medication to relieve symptoms. Keep air moist with an air humidifier because cold viruses thrive in dry weather. Antihistamines are also helpful for coughs, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal discharge.
Chicken soup for colds is an old and time-tested remedy, which the Mayo Clinic supports with evidence demonstrating that it has anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps speed up mucus production and movement, relieving congestion and removing the viruses in contact with the lining of the nose. Evidence suggests that zinc is effective at battling colds when taken within 24 hours of initial onset, but it has also been associated with loss of smell.
Although not an immediate remedy, the Mayo Clinic suggests using a clean humidifier to add moisture to the surrounding air. Moist air prevents the mucus membranes from drying out, preventing or helping to relieve scratchy throats and coughing. Infants with colds may also benefit from sitting in a humid bathroom for a few minutes before bedtime.
The Mayo Clinic warns that over-the-counter medications are not safe for children under the age of 2 and can lead to serious or life-threatening consequences. Additionally, antibiotics have no effect on colds because they do not attack the cold virus.