Three Little-Known Ways to Fight a Cold

woman with cold using tissue

Online students can study just about anywhere. But if there’s one place students probably don’t want to study, it’s a sick bed. Right now, we’re smack in the middle of cold and flu season, and these ailments can interfere with your ability to study. There’s no cure for the common cold, but drugstore shelves are filled with pills and elixirs to treat the symptoms. There are also many home remedies that people swear by. Try some of these quick, cheap, and easy tricks the next time sneezing, coughing, and congestion interrupt your study time.

Watch What You Eat

There’s a whole list of various foods that are supposed to stave off colds. While some of these food recommendations sound more like superstitions, others have some scientific basis. For example, oysters, beef, and crab contain a lot of zinc. Zinc supports the proper functioning of the white blood cells that help to fight viruses and bacteria. Other zinc-rich foods include pumpkin seeds and whole grains.

Onions and garlic may not be so wonderful for your breath, but they are pretty great for your health. Onions contain sulfur, an immunity booster and detoxifier. Garlic also contributes to proper immune functions. Both are solid choices when fighting a cold.

And yes, even chocolate can be beneficial if you’re suffering from a nagging cough. Dark chocolate is rich in theobromine which is an excellent natural cough suppressant. Sound too good to be true? Well, there is a caveat regarding the healing benefits of chocolate – you’ll want to avoid sweetened chocolate. Sugar, unfortunately, can impair your immune system. Coffee is similarly detrimental for immunity. Also, dairy products should be avoided when you have a cold since they tend to create extra mucus.

Get Up and Move

A bad cold can leave you feeling drained and the idea of lying in bed can certainly sound appealing, but a little physical exertion may be just the thing to make you feel better. Exercise will raise your body temperature which increases the efficiency of your immune system. Don’t overdo it though. Over-exercising can fatigue you and worsen your symptoms. 

A Blast of Air

This idea may sound strange, but breathing warm air may help with your cold symptoms. Studies have shown that heated air can eradicate the rhinovirus in your nose. If you have heat vents in the floor of your home, sit above it when the heat comes on and breathe in the warm air for a few minutes. If you don’t have accessible heat vents, you can produce a similar effect with a hair dryer. Set the dryer to warm – never hot – and hold it an arm’s length from your face. If you experience any discomfort with either of these warm air techniques, stop immediately. Discomfort is a sure sign that the air is too warm or too close to your face.

These behaviors may not work for everyone, and they’re certainly not meant to be a substitute for treatment from a trained medical professional, but they may be convenient supplements to your cold-fighting regimen. Give them a try and see what works for you. Don’t let a cold knock you out this winter.

Written by Erik Siwak, Communications Manager for Bridgepoint Education


Gallagher, J. (2015). Common Cold Prefers Cold Nose. Retrieved from

Gallagher, J. (2010). Free Natural Cold Home Remedies. Retrieved

Sakugawa, Y. (n.d.). 7 Home Remedies for Relieving Common Cold Symptoms.

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