Having the flu can be miserable and choking back medicine after medicine can sometimes make you feel worse. Using simple home remedies can often be the best way to go when you're feeling ill. There are quite a few home remedies you can use to fight the flu that will having you feeling better in no time.
What to Eat and Drink
When you're sick, eating and drinking can be a challenge. Certain foods can irritate a sore throat, and other foods can cause an upset stomach. Or, you may get weird cravings for foods that you wouldn't normally eat. But it's important to eat foods that will keep the immune system strong so it can continue to fight off the flu virus. Here are the best foods to eat when you have the flu:
- Chicken noodle soup: Yes, Mom's homemade chicken soup can actually help your body fight off the flu. Studies have shown that hot chicken soup can thin the mucus that lies in the mouth and throat, particularly if the soup is loaded with spices like pepper and garlic. Chicken soup can also stimulate the function of the cilia, the hair-like projections in the nose that fight off bacteria and viruses. The movement of white blood cells can also increase after eating a bowl of chicken soup.
- Garlic: This pungent spice can boost the immune system and relieve congestion.
- Chili peppers: Adding a slice or two of chili pepper to your meal can open up your nasal passages and help you breathe better.
- Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and helps the body produce interferon, a virus fighter.
When you're not eating, suck on cough drops or throat lozenges; it's a good way to relieve a sore throat. If you don't have either of those handy, a piece of hard candy will work just as well.
Keeping the throat moist is also important and drinking plenty of fluids can do just that. Juice, hot tea, water and sports drinks are all flu-friendly, but stay away from drinks that contain caffeine. They can act as a diuretic and dehydrate you.
Home Remedies for Symptom Relief
Eating and drinking foods that boost your immune system are the first steps to getting your body back on track, but they aren't the only things you can do. Here's a list of other home remedies that you can use to relieve your flu symptoms:
- To relieve a stuffy nose, try inhaling an aromatic steam. To make an aromatic steam, add two teaspoons of chopped ginger to a pot of steaming water. You can drape a towel around your head while leaning over the steam to really get the steam flowing through your nasal passages. Inhaling steam from a hot shower can also open up the nasal passages.
- Make a hot compress to relieve throbbing headaches. Microwave a damp towel for 30 seconds or until the towel reaches the desired temperature. You can also place it across your nose and cheeks for sinus relief.
- Use a salt water rinse to rid your nose of mucus and bacteria. Mix a quarter of a teaspoon of salt, a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda and eight ounces of water. Using either a bulb syringe or a Neti pot, insert the saline water into your nose, one nostril at a time, holding a finger on the opposite nostril. Let the mixture slowly drain and then gently blow your nose. Repeat the process two or three times and then switch nostrils.
Above all, rest is the most important remedy for the flu. It takes time to get over being ill and by taking it easy, you're letting your body focus on fighting off the virus.
The flu spreads quickly and when flu season comes around, there's a good chance that you're going to catch it. Trying to avoid the virus may sound futile, especially if you constantly visit common places to catch the flu on a daily basis, but there are ways to prevent it from spreading to you.
- Wash your hands and wash them often. Everything you lay your hand on has germs on it, from door handles to elevator buttons and books to coffee pots, so it's important to wash your hands after touching things that many other people have touched before you. When you wash your hands, wash them with soap for 15-to-20 seconds, or to the tune of the "Happy Birthday" song. If you're not able to get to a sink, then use a hand sanitizer to rid your hands of germs.
- Don't touch your face. It may be tempting to itch your nose or pull that annoying eyelash from your eye, but don't do it unless you've washed your hands thoroughly beforehand. That door handle or coffee pot that you may have touched could contain germs that can easily enter the body through the nose, mouth and eyes.
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Tiny droplets of fluid are excreted into the air when you cough or sneeze, and the person who breathes them in will get sick. If you do feel the urge to cough and sneeze, do so into a tissue or your elbow, not your hand.
The most important thing you can do to prevent the flu or any other sickness is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, getting the proper amount of sleep and keeping your stress level down helps keeps your immune system strong. And by keeping your immune system healthy today, it will surely keep you healthy tomorrow.