Common cold and seasonal flu are both caused by viruses, and most people are affected by either one of them every year. The symptoms of a cold and flu vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms are blocked and runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, headache, sore throat, phlegm, and fever. These symptoms that you experience are part of the healing process. The immune system battles the illness by producing these symptoms.
For example, a fever helps to kill the viruses by increasing the body temperature, and a cough clears the respiratory tract of thick mucus. Cold and flu are highly contagious, so when an infected person sneezes or speaks close to you, the virus travels through the water droplets and enters your nose or mouth.
There are various home remedies that you can try to help alleviate your symptoms. The most effective home remedies are as follows:
Dink a lot of hot liquids and water, as they will help relieve nasal congestion, hydrate you, and soothe the inflamed linings of the nose and throat. Keep sipping water as it will thin the mucus. You can try drinking herbal tea, soups, warm lemon water, etc. Avoid consuming alcohol as it can dehydrate you.
Salt water gargling helps prevent upper respiratory tract infections. Mix half a teaspoon of salt in 250 ml of water and gargle four times daily. It will soothe a sore or itchy throat. You can also add honey, lemon, or apple cider vinegar to water and gargle with it.
Steam inhalation gives temporary relief from nasal congestion and sinus pressure. You can fill a pot with boiling water, and inhale the steam by placing a towel over your head and keeping your face close to the pot. Or you can inhale steam during a hot shower. You can also add eucalyptus oil to the boiling water for better results.
Honey soothes a sore throat and helps in suppressing cough. It is known to have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. If you take honey before going to bed, it reduces the severity of cough. You can take honey as it is or mix it with hot water and lemon. Avoid giving honey to children below 1 year, as it contains botulinum spores which can disturb the child’s digestive system and can be fatal.
Viruses causing cold and influenza spread more rapidly in a dry environment. If the air in your home is too dry, you can use cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture. This might help loosen the congestion and reduce inflammation. But do not forget to change the water and clean the unit daily.
Try eating fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C, like orange, green leafy vegetables, lemon, grapefruit, bell peppers, etc. Vitamin C helps the immune system to fight against any infection. Adding lemon to warm water or tea also reduces the phlegm production.
Ginger is a known anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Drinking water boiled with ginger helps soothe a sore throat and cough. It is also helpful to treat nausea, which is a symptom of the flu. You can also add ginger to your tea.
Probiotics are friendly bacteria that are found in the gut; they are also found in some food and supplements. Probiotics help to keep your stomach healthy, and thus making your immune system stronger. Research also shows that probiotics reduce the chance of upper respiratory tract infection. Probiotics are present in yogurt, kefir, kimchi, pickles, etc. Taking probiotics regularly will keep your immune system healthy, and prevent you from catching a cold and flu.
Including garlic in your diet will help fight cold. Garlic contains allicin, which has antimicrobial properties. It will also boost your immune system and might prevent you from falling sick. It is found that consuming garlic might shorten the duration of a cold.
Echinacea plant is used to make medicines from its leaves, flower, and roots. Native Americans use this herb to treat infections from many years. It has flavonoids, which boost the immune system and reduce nasal inflammation. Research shows that Echinacea lowers the chances of you catching a common cold by 50 %. You can try taking 1 to 2 g of Echinacea root or herb as a tea for not more than a week.
Colds can make you feel horrible, and you might resort to trying all the latest home remedies available. But first, try to prevent catching a cold by changing few habits like washing your hands frequently, eating immune-boosting foods, and cough or sneeze into a tissue. If you do not feel better after a couple of days of trying all the home remedies, it is best you consult your doctor.
Many other health conditions also have flu-like symptoms, like pneumonia, bronchitis, mononucleosis, etc., so seek medical attention immediately if your symptoms aggravate. The advantage of these remedies is that you can start it during the time you wait to go see a doctor, and this might help reduce the duration of these cold and flu symptoms.