According to WebMD, effective home remedies to fight a cough and cold include inhaling steam, drinking hot liquids, using saline nasal sprays and applying a mentholated salve. Natural remedies such as vitamin C, zinc and echinacea may also be used, but their effectiveness has not been proven.
To fight cold and cough, drink eight to 10 8-ounce glasses of water each day to moisten the throat and prevent dehydration. Sports drinks, ginger ale, juices and other fluids may also be used, but WebMD warns that caffeinated drinks should be avoided because they act as a diuretic. Hot drinks, such as herbal tea with honey, soothe the membranes of the nose and throat to relieve irritation and prevent coughing.
Inhale steam by holding the head over a pot of boiling water, taking a hot shower or using a humidifier to ease congestion and relieve a cough caused by a cold, asthma or allergies. Menthol cough drops and lozenges can also be used to numb the back of the throat to decrease the cough reflex. To relieve nasal congestion, sleep with an extra pillow under the head or apply hot packs to the sinuses. Gargling warm salt water can relieve an irritated throat caused by a cold, according to WebMD.