There is no real remedy for the common cold. The best thing you can do is curl up with a blanket, make yourself a vat of chicken soup and wait for it to pass. However, targeting the most bothersome symptoms individually can help to bring relief while you wait for nature to work its magic, says German pharmacists’ association Apothekerkammer Hessen.

Here is some advice on targeting the four most common symptoms:

Congestion

If your nose is blocked, decongestant nasal sprays can help you breathe normally again, and will also help unblock the ear canal. However, you should not keep using them for too long, because it’s possible to become immune to their effects.

Patients with heart problems should be particularly careful with nasal sprays, as they can affect blood pressure. As an alternative, a drop of hypertonic saline solution will also alleviate nasal symptoms.

Sore Throat

For a slight sore throat, lozenges and sprays can help by temporarily anaesthetising the surface of the pharyngeal space.

However, for more serious cases, the German Society for General and Family Medicine recommends painkillers that contain ibuprofen or paracetamol. These work better if the patient takes them regularly over the period when they are needed, rather than just occasionally.

You can still take lozenges, too, as these help to moisturise the throat. Doctors also recommend gargling with salt water: Dissolve a teaspoon of table salt into a glass of water.

Cough

The kind of cough that is brought on by a cold will usually fade away within two or three weeks, even without medication, the German Society for General and Family Medicine says.

However, doctors say there is something to be said for remedies that contain myrtol, ivy or thyme and primrose root extract. Hessen says that patients should only use cough suppressants, if at all, if the cough is keeping them awake at night.

Fever

A temperature associated with a cold can also be treated with over-the-counter medicine that contains the likes of paracetamol and ibuprofen.

According to the German Society for General and Family Medicine, however, it may not be necessary to treat low to moderate fever with medication, unless the patient suffers from other, more serious diseases. A cold compress is a tried and tested household remedy against a fever, the society says. – dpa