Along with fever, a cold can cause coughing, sinus congestion, sneezing and a runny nose. The production of mucus is your body's way of trying to rid itself of harmful agents, like the cold virus. However, even after you begin to feel better, you can continue to produce mucus for many days. Fortunately, there are treatments to help clear mucus after a cold.
Blow your nose and cough. These are the simplest ways to rid yourself of mucus after a cold. Tissues infused with menthol may help loosen mucus, but perhaps not enough to be worth the extra cost.
Take medication specifically formulated to loosen mucus. Medications such as Mucinex, Sudafed and Tussin will help diminish mucus production. These medications work by thinning the mucous membranes, which relieves congestion making it easier to blow or cough out the mucus. These medications can leave you dehydrated, so be sure to drink lots of water. Always follow all dosing directions, as well.
Use a saline rinse. You can purchase a saline rinse at the drug store, or create one of your own by mixing 1 cup of water, 1 tsp of salt (preferably canning, pickling or sea salt) and 1 tsp of baking soda. Warm water may feel more comfortable, but cold water may help shrink mucous membranes and bring more relief. If you have mucus in your throat, gargling with this solution will help draw the mucus out. If the mucus you want to get rid of is in your sinuses, wash this solution into your sinuses, either by using a Neti pot, or by simply sniffing the salt water from your palm into your nose. Blow your nose thoroughly afterwards.
Expose yourself to steam or humidity, both of which will loosen mucus and allow it to be removed more easily. Adding eucalyptus or menthol to hot water before breathing in the steam can help clear sinus passages even more. A cool mist humidifier can help keep mucus membranes from getting irritated, and lessen congestion.
Eat spicy foods. If you can tolerate food spicy enough to make your nose run, it may help you clear mucus from your nose and throat.
If cough or congestion persists, seek the advice of a physician.
Tips and warnings
- If cough or congestion persists, seek the advice of a physician.