Coping With the Flu
Coping with flu again this year? While there’s no cure for flu, there are some natural and practical flu remedies you can use to ease flu symptoms. Here are some you can try today.
Stay home and get plenty of rest.
On the first day of flu symptoms, follow the rules of flu etiquette. Call your work or school and tell them you’re not coming in for a few days because you’re sick — and very contagious! Then, take advantage of these days of flu and let your body have much-needed rest. Pull out your favorite movies, curl up on the couch, and spend the time watching DVDs while your body battles the virus.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Increase fluids such as water, fruit juices, sports drinks, and clear soups (like chicken soup). Fluids help keep your respiratory system hydrated and liquefy thick mucus that can build up to cause infection in your bronchial tubes.
Treat aches and fever so you feel comfortable.
Got fever? Fever is a flu symptom and occurs when your body temperature rises to fight off infection (in this case, the flu virus). Treat fever and aches with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn). Ask your doctor which is right for you. Aspirin should never be given to children and adults younger than 19 years old with symptoms of flu or cold because it is associated with a condition known as Reye’s syndrome, a very serious illness that can damage the brain and liver.
Use cough suppressants and expectorants to treat the cough.
Over-the-counter cough remedies are available to suppress cough. There are also over-the-counter expectorants that liquefy thick mucus so it can be coughed up. There is some disagreement among doctors about how well these cough medicines work.
Use steam inhalations.
You can fill the bathroom sink with steaming water. Add 1 teaspoon of the over-the-counter ointment Vicks Vapor Rub to the steaming water, and then breathe in the steam for several minutes until you get relief. Another alternative is to add a few drops of oil of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) or menthol to the water. Eucalyptus may help open up bronchial tubes, ease congestion, and make breathing a little easier. There is not enough evidence, however, to say that any of these really help with the symptoms.
Sit in a steamy bathroom.
If you are still congested, sit in a bathroom with the door closed and allow the shower to run hot until the room fills with moist steam. Inhaling the moisture can help to open your airways. Make sure you sit away from the hot shower so you do not get burned by the water.
Run the humidifier.
If the air is dry, a warm mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean, however, to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds.
Try soothing lozenges.
Sucking on soothing lozenges will help to moisten and coat your scratchy throat and may reduce the cough associated with flu.
Try saline (salt water) nasal drops.
Saline nose drops are available over-the-counter at any drug or grocery store and are effective, safe, and nonirritating, even for children. Put several drops into one nostril, and then gently blow the mucus and saline out of that nostril. Repeat the process in the opposite nostril until both are unblocked.