5 Ways to Beat the Cold and Flu
Autumn has arrived, and as the cold fronts begin to make their way into your town, so too do the congestion and germs find easier ways past your immune system. The transition from warmer to colder weather tends to bring about disease more easily as your body rushes to adapt to the new climate. As we mentioned in a previous article, cool temperatures are harder on the immune system in general, as your body uses the bulk of its resources to stay warm.
Inevitably, many people develop cold and flu symptoms over the course of autumn, including sneezing, chills, runny noses, fevers, coughs, lethargy, and headaches. Sometimes this can even come about after you've received a flu shot. Thanks to modern medicine, there are more options than ever when it comes to biting fall sickness in the bud. But before you visit your healthcare provider and search for over-the-counter lozenges and pain relievers like ibuprofen to combat your cold and flu symptoms, it might be worthwhile to try some natural treatments to ease your conditions first without dealing with potential side-effects. Here are five of the easiest home remedies to prevent, treat, and recover from the common cold and flu!
1. Prioritize Rest
Your body recovers the quickest from ailments and injuries when you’re asleep or taking it easy. If you stay too active while sick—especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors—your body will be required to keep itself warm and support your activities while fighting off germs! This is an uphill battle that could only result in your condition getting worse.
Warring with disease takes a lot of energy, so it’s natural to feel tired when you’re under the weather. It’s usually best to humor your health and relax for an extended period of time to recover, either by lying down or sitting back in a comfortable place. Both cold symptoms and flu symptoms tend to sap your energy, and getting enough sleep provides your body with the downtime it needs to purge the sickness sooner rather than later.
If you’re battling with the autumn blues, make sure you catch as many Zs as possible; your body will thank you when you’re all better!
2. Drink Plenty of Water
According to the CDC, drinking enough water is essential to healthy living regardless of whether or not you’re sick. However, it’s especially vital when you develop cold or flu symptoms.
Particularly in the case of a fever, your body temperature rises when you’re sick in an attempt to prevent infections from growing. An area of the brain known as the hypothalamus becomes stimulated when certain bacteria or viruses are detected in the body. In response, the hypothalamus sets your body’s thermostat to a slightly higher temperature than normal. This can effectively burn out unwanted germs by making your body climate less favorable for them to thrive in. Although this is a natural response and is key to getting back on your feet, a warmer internal temperature can make a precious resource like water scarce. Sweating, vomiting, and even a running nose can also rapidly deplete your fluids while you’re sick.
When you experience a fever brought about from a cold or the flu—or if you pick up any illness for that matter—it is always important to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. If your body retains enough moisture, it can keep up with its attempts at evicting bacteria without worrying about overheating or dehydrating. This process can potentially lead to a quick recovery, so don’t underestimate the power of water!
3. Give Garlic a Try
When it comes to the immune system, perhaps the most pivotal of health boosts nature has to offer is found in raw garlic. Though the smell and taste might not be everyone’s favorite, countless research trials have found garlic to be one of the best foods you can eat to enable the body to recover faster. Garlic is high in antioxidants, has anti-bacterial properties, and even the ability to quell inflammation, making it the perfect companion to your body’s immune response.
Garlic is relatively inexpensive and easy to find, too. Since eating raw garlic isn’t exactly an easy thing to do (or stomach), you can try mincing it into a glass of water to make it more palatable. This is effective as both a reaction to sickness and a proactive countermeasure—which is why some people stock up on garlic as soon as cold weather starts to creep in!
4. Stick with Warm Liquids
Another remedy for colds and flus comes in the form of consuming soups, teas, honey, and other smooth liquids. Why? Because they all tend to be prepared warm, and warm water and fluids work wonders to relieve congestion. Additionally, warm liquids can be soothing in the event of coughing episodes, sniffles, a stuffy nose, or sore throats. In addition to drinking cold water to cool off, warmer beverages and foods are easier for the body to process and makes your sickness a little more comfortable. They can also clear up your sinuses if you have any trouble breathing through your nostrils.
If you want to go the extra mile to help with a scratchy throat, don't forget to gargle saltwater. This is a tried-and-true method when other decongestants aren't cutting it!
You also have good nutritional opportunities when selecting warm food or drink, as many soups (such as chicken soup) and herbal teas can contain nutrients which are a good choice for your health. Green and black teas contain many antioxidants which are great at fighting off cold and flu symptoms, and recent studies have even indicated that vitamin D supplements are a great way to keep your respiratory system healthy.
5. Stay Clean with Hand Sanitizer
While you’re on the up and up, it’s important to take extra measures to stay germ-free. When your immune system is busy taking care of pathogens which have already entered your body, it often has difficulty catching new arriving invaders. This is why some diseases can progress or transition into other ones in a chain effect. Because colds and flus can be particularly contagious within a few days of your first symptoms, that also puts others you interact with in danger if bacteria isn’t kept in check.
The best way to keep the reins on your sickness is by keeping some sanitizing solution nearby while you rest. Germs like to travel via the hands, and usually enter the body after you’ve touched your eyes or mouth. Although washing your hands is generally the most effective way to wipe the slate clean, sinks and hand soap aren’t always available (or convenient). Alternatively, the accessibility of a portable bottle of hand sanitizer can go a long way to protecting your body while it works to heal itself.
Be wary of using lower quality hand sanitizers frequently, as conditions such as eczema can leave your palms feeling cracked and sore. Muse Health’s Fragrance-free Hand Sanitizer contains just the right combination of ethyl alcohol and natural oils to kill off germs without drying your hands out, making it the perfect solution to keep at your side while you rest.
Cold and flu season is difficult to overcome, even while following with these tips. Severe symptoms can be indicative of a more serious infectious disease, so remember to always see your doctor if any conditions alarm or concern you—or if your symptoms don’t go away.