9 Tips to Treat Colds and Flu the ‘Natural’ Way

9 Tips to Treat Colds and Flu the ‘Natural’ Way

We’ve all been there – seated next to a snotting, sneezing, coughing person with no escape route available, worried that the next day we’ll be the one hacking. But the truth is, catching an illness can’t always be blamed on the obvious offenders. Though you can pick up germs just about anywhere (disturbingly, viruses can linger on surfaces such as ATMs and checkout-aisle pens for 48 hours), actually coming down with a cold or flu is a complex process–one that you can outsmart by following these stay-healthy tips.

With no cure in sight for the cold or the flu, over-the-counter treatments can at best bring symptom relief or shorten the duration of those symptoms. Or you can take the natural approach.

9 Tips to Treat the Cold or Flu

No. 1: Blow Your Nose Often – and the Right Way

It’s important to blow your nose regularly when you have a cold rather than sniffling mucus back into your head. But when you blow hard, pressure can cause an ear ache. The best way to blow your nose: Press a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other. Wash your hands after blowing your nose.

No. 2: Stay Rested

Resting when you first come down with a cold or the flu helps your body direct its energy toward the immune battle. This battle taxes the body. So give it a little help by lying down under a blanket.

No. 3: Gargle

Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water, four times daily. To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle – such as tea that contains tannin – to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey or a mixture of honey and apple cider vinegar, a popular folk remedy.

No. 4: Drink Hot Liquids

Hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, help prevent dehydration, and soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat.

No. 5: Take a Steamy Shower

Steamy showers moisturize your nasal passages and relax you. If you’re dizzy from the flu, run a steamy shower while you sit on a chair nearby and take a sponge bath.

No. 6: Apply Hot or Cold Packs Around Your Congested Sinuses

Either temperature may help you feel more comfortable. You can buy reusable hot or cold packs at a drugstore. Or make your own. Take a damp washcloth and heat it for 55 seconds in a microwave (test the temperature first to make sure it’s not scalding). Or take a small bag of frozen peas to use as a cold pack.

No. 7: Sleep With an Extra Pillow Under Your Head

This will help with the drainage of nasal passages. If the angle is too awkward, try placing the pillows between the mattress and the box springs to create a more gradual slope.

No. 8: Don’t Fly Unless Necessary

There’s no point adding stress to your already stressed-out upper respiratory system, and that’s what the change in air pressure will do. Flying with cold or flu congestion can hurt your eardrums as a result of pressure changes during takeoff and landing. If you must fly, use a decongestant and carry a nasal spray with you to use just before takeoff and landing. Chewing gum and swallowing frequently can also help relieve pressure.

No. 9: Wash, Rinse, Repeat

“The number one thing you can do to protect yourself from a cold or flu is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently

Remember, serious conditions can masquerade as the common cold and a mild infection can evolve into something more serious. If you have severe symptoms or are feeling sicker with each passing day, see a doctor.

 

Authored by: Suhadee Henriquez, LCSW