The salty water helps to thin the mucus that's dripping in the back of your throat. That's a big bonus when you're dealing with the sticky, gooey mucus that seems intractable, helping your body more quickly move the stuff through your system and out of your body.
Gargling also helps rinse viruses, bacteria, and fungi out of your throat. Ridding your body of these elements can make a big difference in your overall symptoms and possibly shorten the duration of your illness.
And it's easy to do: Just add 1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 cup warm water and gargle away. Spit out the concoction after a few seconds.
Repeating this process two or three times per day can help you heal and may help reduce the awfulness of your symptoms, too. In fact, at least one study shows that gargling with saltwater can alleviate many diverse cold symptoms and perhaps provide upkeep for your respiratory tract [source: O'Connor].