Everyone gets the flu at one point or another, and primarily when the colder months hit and everyone seems to have a virus. Influenza virus symptoms include fever, chills, sore throat, cough, nasal congestion, and muscle aches. While antiviral prescription medications can reduce symptoms for various types of flu viruses, there are natural methods that work effectively, as well. Whether you have a good old seasonal flu or your illness seems unseasonable, you can take a few steps towards better health without seeing a doctor.
According to healthcare professionals, these are the most recommended ways to ease flu symptoms naturally. Many of them will cease to surprise you, but at least they have medical approval for demonstrated effectiveness.
How to Treat the Flu at Home
Get Plenty of Fluids
It is important to drink continually as the flu can dehydrate you, particularly if your symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. Replace your fluids with anything you like: water, fruit juices, smoothies, sports drinks, and tea are optimal. Caffeinated drinks may need to take a rest, since they are a diuretic and would further your body’s dehydration. Same with alcohol. Tea with honey is excellent for sore throats. If you are nauseous, you can start by taking gradual sips so to avoid vomiting. To make sure you’re hydrated, check that your urine is very light and almost devoid of color.
Resting and taking it easy is essential whenever you’re not feeling well. When your body needs time to recover, allow the immune system to catch up and work its magic. If you’re too exhausted to exercise, hold off until you feel better. Make sure you get enough sleep each night and stay on a regular sleep schedule. According to chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University of Medicine in Nashville, TN, William Schaffner, MD, “Good sleep cycles help the immune system work well, so it’s important to get your full eight hours of sleep each night.”
As a hot liquid, you already have a plus by eating chicken soup. It is, of course, your mother’s most common solution to cold and flu symptoms, but according to a study released in the medical journal Chest, chicken soup may alleviate symptoms associated with upper respiratory tract infections. However, some of the benefit may be purely emotional. The sentiment of making soup and placing your face over a steaming bowl of liquid may also help you feel better.
And if you aren’t a meat-eater, you can try a vegetable-based soup in combination with other remedies.
Make a Steam Tent
Open up your nasal passages and breathe in some steam. Boil a pot of water and remove it from the heat. Place a towel behind your head to prevent the steam from escaping. Lean over the pot of water and inhale deeply through your nose for 30 seconds. Add one or two drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to the water to cut the phlegm even more. Repeat whenever needed to reduce congestion. If you have asthma, do not try the tent.
Add Humidity to the Air
Whether you take a hot shower or buy a humidifier, moisture in the air can greatly help clear respiratory blockage. Using a humidifier can help especially during nighttime, but make sure the device is cleaned regularly so that you don’t breathe in mold. The shower method is quite easy: take a very hot shower several times per day and deeply breathe the steam, or turn on the shower and sit in the bathroom for a few minutes.
Salt Water Gargle
Eliminate thick mucus that settles in the back of your throat by gargling salt water. This can also clear stuffy ears by opening clogged eustachian tubes, according to David Kiefer, MD, clinical instructor of family medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
Flush Your Nose
Nasal irrigation can be extremely helpful to reduce congestion and post-nasal drip, and also can prevent you from getting a sinus infection. Neti pots are available all over the web, in natural food stores, and even in many drug stores. You can also get a saline squeeze bottle alternatively. This process works by pouring salt water into one nostril and allowing it to run out the other to free up your nasal passages. Mix salt and lukewarm water and place it in the pot, or buy a saline solution.
Placing a warm washcloth over your sinus zone is a very helpful for reducing headache and sinus pressure.
1. WebMD. 10 Home Remedies for Flu Symptoms.
2. Image: Chron Blog.