Fight the flu

Looking for a natural or alternative treatment for your cold or flu symptoms? Shayantani Sinha shares 12 tips that may help relieve your symptoms
The Community By Shayantani Sinha
Published on January 1, 2014
Fight the flu

Come winter and you start your day with a runny nose, soar throat and worse, a fever. What do you do? The Community offers 12 natural treatment tips for common colds and flu to help you sail through the winter months…

DON’T TREAT THE SYMPTOMS

Believe it or not, those annoying symptoms you’re experiencing are part of the natural healing process — evidence that the immune system is battling illness. For instance, a fever is your body’s way of trying to kill viruses by creating a hotter-than-normal environment. Also, a fever’s hot environment makes germ-killing proteins in your blood circulate more quickly and effectively. Thus, if you endure a moderate fever for a day or two, you may actually get well faster. Coughing is another productive symptom; it clears your breathing passages of thick mucus that can carry germs to your lungs and the rest of your body. Even that stuffy nose is best treated mildly or not at all. A decongestant, like Sudafed, restricts flow to the blood vessels in your nose and throat. But often you want the increase blood flow because it warms the infected area and helps secretions carry germs out of your body.

BLOW YOUR NOSE OFTEN

It’s crucial 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 carry germ-carrying phlegm back into your ear passages, causing earache. The best way to blow your nose: Press a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other.

STUFFY NOSE AND WARM SALT WATER

Salt-water rinsing helps break nasal congestion, while also removing virus particles and bacteria from your nose. Here’s a popular recipe: Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in eight ounces of warm water. Use a bulb syringe or nasal irrigation kit to squirt water into the nose. Hold one nostril closed by applying light finger pressure while squirting the salt mixture into the other nostril. Let it drain. Repeat two to three times, then treat the other nostril.

STAY WARM AND RESTED

Staying warm and 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 resting.

GARGLE

Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Gargle with half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in eight ounces warm water, four times daily. To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle — tea that contains tannin — to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey and/or apple cider vinegar. Seep one tablespoon of raspberry leaves or lemon juice in two cups of hot water; mix with one teaspoon of honey. Let the mixture cool.

DRINK HOT LIQUIDS

Hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, prevent dehydration, and soothe the uncomfortably
inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat. If you’re so congested
that you can’t sleep at night, try a hot toddy, an age-old remedy. Make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add one teaspoon of honey and one small shot (about one ounce) of whiskey or bourbon. Limit yourself to one. Too much alcohol will inflame the membranes and make you feel worse.

TAKE A STEAMY SHOWER

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

USE A SALVE UNDER YOUR NOSE

A small dab of mentholated salve under your nose can help to open breathing passages and restore the irritated skin at the base of the nose. Menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor all have mild numbing ingredients that may help relieve the pain of a nose rubbed raw. However, only put it on the outside, under your nose, not inside your nose.

APPLY HOT OR COLD PACKS

Either temperature works. You can buy reusable hot or cold packs at a drugstore or make your own. You can apply heat by taking a damp washcloth and heating it for 55 seconds in a microwave (test the temperature first to make sure it’s not too hot.) A small bag of frozen peas works well as a cold pack.

SLEEP WITH AN EXTRA PILLOW

Elevating your head will help relieve congested 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.

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 temporarily damage 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. Chewing gum and swallowing frequently can also help relieve pressure.
Remember, serious conditions, such as sinus infections, bronchitis, meningitis, strep throat and asthma, can look like the common cold. If you have severe symptoms or don’t seem to be getting better, call your doctor.

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