According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu (aka influenza) activity peaks between December and February, which means that your chances of becoming sick around this time are also quite high.
For those who may not know what the ailment is, precisely, it is a respiratory illness. 1 of 3 influenza-related viruses, types A, B, or C, trigger the onset. Also, the flu is highly contagious and affects the nose, throat, and lungs. Additionally, it can be life-threatening in extreme cases or to infants or the elderly.
Are you among the 10 percent of the U.S. population that gets the flu every year? Then you will be happy to learn the home remedies that can help provide a speedy recovery.
10 HOME REMEDIES TO HELP YOU GET OVER THE FLU FASTER
Now that we have a better understanding of influenza let’s take a moment to go over 10 natural remedies that can benefit those who are struggling with symptoms brought on by the illness:
1. STAYING HYDRATED
When trying to overcome a flu-related illness, it helps to drink plenty of water. This intake can keep the respiratory system hydrated. And, it works at loosening mucus that forms in the mucosal glands lining the nasal passages and sinuses. Besides, drinking plenty of water can also help break up chest congestion, which can make breathing that much easier.
2. STEAM THERAPY
Although you may not feel up to it, sitting in a steam-filled bathroom for a few minutes is another way to loosen mucus and phlegm that can make you feel not only congested but also miserable. The same benefits can also be achieved through the use of a steam vaporizer or cool-mist humidifier. For best results, you should try to inhale the steam, either from running a hot shower or through these machines, slowly and deeply through your nose for a minimum of 5 minutes.
3. GARGLING WITH SALTWATER
Gargling with warm salt water for 1 to 2 minutes is another one of the many natural remedies that can help loosen thick mucus and phlegm that often gathers in the back of the throat. Beyond that, gargling with warm salt water reduces swelling in the throat while also helping to flush away harmful bacteria, which, according to a study published by ScienceDaily, is the leading cause of death among those who develop flu-related illnesses.
Honey is yet another natural remedy that can ease flu-related symptoms. In a study published by JAMA Network, an international peer-reviewed general medical journal, it was revealed that the antibacterial and antiviral properties in honey are highly effective in resolving the upper respiratory tract infections commonly associated with flu-related illnesses.
To get the most out of this all-natural remedy, consider consuming a minimum of 1 tablespoon of honey every 3 to 4 hours until your symptoms start to subside. Dissolve the honey in warm water or tea for easier drinking.
Understandably, when you’re sick, the last thing you want to do is eat. However, evidence suggests that certain foods may help you get over the flu that much faster. That being said, the following foods, herbs, and spices have been shown to alleviate chronic coughing, reduce mucus buildup, and improve overall respiratory function:
- Clear broth soups
- Fatty fish
- Ground cayenne
- Chili pepper
While there is a plurality of other foods, spices, and herbs that can help ease flu-related symptoms, those listed in this article are especially effective for those seeking relief from a chronic cough, significant mucus buildup, or poor respiratory function.
6. ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils often prove to help resolve a myriad of health problems. And providing symptom relief from a flu-related illness is no exception. Indeed, using the following essential oils can help improve breathing, reduce chest congestion, and prevent the growth of bacteria that would otherwise trigger a respiratory tract infection.
- Cinnamon bark
- Tea tree
Best of all, these natural remedies can be used in a variety of ways, some of which include adding them to a diffuser or warm bath, using them in the form of a vapor rub, or even applying them topically.
7. SUPPLEMENTS FOR INFLUENZA
Taking supplements can also help ease flu-related symptoms. One of the most effective supplements for those seeking relief from thick mucus that impedes breathing or chronic bronchitis is N-acetylcysteine, also commonly referred to as NAC. According to a study published by the European Respiratory Journal, a peer-reviewed medical journal covering respiratory health, study participants who took 600 to 1,200 mg of NAC daily experienced significant relief from chronic bronchitis and also saw a reduction in the mucus, which previously obstructed their airways. Of course, NAC is not the only supplement that can help ease flu symptoms. Additional supplements that can provide some much-needed relief include
Vitamin C – There is a reason why vitamin C supplements are a popular choice among those battling either influenza or the common cold. And that is because they work. The antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties in vitamin C are effective in relieving a runny nose. Even more than that, this particular supplement can help boost the immune system by strengthening macrophages and neutrophils, immune cells that work collectively to destroy viruses, including those that trigger flu-related illnesses.
Vitamin E – Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E can also boost the immune system and also reduce your chances of developing an upper respiratory infection, which is a common occurrence among those who develop influenza. To substantiate this claim, we need only look at a study conducted by researchers and scientists at Tufts University, a Massachusetts-based private research university. The study, which included 451 participants over the age of 65, those who developed flu-related symptoms and took 200 international units (IU) of vitamin E daily, were less susceptible to developing an upper respiratory infection.
8. ACETAMINOPHEN AND NONSTEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS
It is not uncommon to experience fever and body aches when you develop a flu-based respiratory illness. The best way to combat both of these symptoms is by taking over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, for example. Although they are not all-natural remedies like the others on our list, they offer significant relief from flu-related symptoms. That said, let’s take a closer look at how these two particular medications work:
Acetaminophen – This over-the-counter medication is commonly used to reduce pain and fever. While the science behind how acetaminophen works is not widely understood, studies show that Tylenol and other acetaminophen-containing drugs help restrict the production of prostaglandins in the brain, the chemicals that trigger pain and fever in the body.
Ibuprofen – This over-the-counter medication is very similar to acetaminophen, in that it reduces fever and alleviates pain by restricting the production of prostaglandins. However, unlike acetaminophen, ibuprofen can provide relief from inflammation as well.
9. COUGH SUPPRESSANTS
Another one of the many symptoms associated with flu-related illnesses is a chronic cough. This coughing is often accompanied by chest congestion. Fortunately, many over-the-counter cough medicines contain camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol, or dextromethorphan, all of which are excellent cough suppressants. More than that, many also contain guaifenesin or glyceryl guaiacolate, which are expectorants that can help loosen and break up chest congestion.
It is important to note that cough suppressants, acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs do not make flu-related illnesses go away. Instead, they will have to run their course naturally. And that can take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. However, they do provide relief from symptoms, which can help you feel slightly less miserable.
10. STAYING HOME
Staying home while you’re battling flu-related symptoms can speed up your recovery and, more importantly, prevent you from getting others sick as well. The various viruses that contribute to flu-related illnesses can be passed on to others for up to 7 days following the onset of symptoms.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON FIGHTING THE FLU WITH HOME REMEDIES
All in all, flu-related symptoms can quickly and easily take a toll on your physical. And, to some degree, the sluggish feeling can impact your mental health. Fortunately, the at-home remedies referenced in this article can provide some much-needed relief from influenza.
Of course, if your flu symptoms have not improved after several days of using these remedies or have significantly worsened, see your physician as soon as possible.