As wintertime approaches, the risk of influenza and the common cold increases. Both of these conditions are viral infections that affect the upper respiratory tract, including the nose, throat, eyes and lungs. The Mayo Clinic reports that typically, the common cold and the flu resolves on its own; however, if you have a compromised immune system, are elderly or under the age of 5, the risk of complications can increase. There are a number of natural remedies and techniques that can help you get over your illness quicker. Before we delve into how to relieve the symptom of a cold or the flu naturally, let’s take a look at the symptoms of each condition.
The flu and the common cold have many similar symptoms; however, the flu comes on suddenly while a cold develops more slowly. Additionally, the symptoms of flu are more pronounced and worse than that of common cold, according to the CDC. Here is a list of the common symptoms:
- Fevers- With the flu, you can expect to experience fevers over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Conversely, if you have a cold, you will typically be plagued with a low-grade fever.
- A runny nose- This symptom usually occurs with a cold; however, it is rare to experience this symptom with the flu.
- Nasal Congestion- Nasal congestion is a symptom found in both of these viral infections.
- A sore throat- Flu and common cold can cause a sore throat. This is often due to nasal congestion which makes you breathe through your mouth, causing a dry, sore throat.
- Body aches- Body aches are more pronounced in flu; however, they can also occur with common cold.
- Headache- Headache is a common symptom of both illnesses. It is caused by nasal congestion and may be relieved with a decongestant.
- Sneezing- Sneezing is a symptom associated with common cold. This symptom does not occur with the flu.
- Fatigue- The infection in your body can cause you to feel fatigued. This symptom is generally only experienced with flu.
- Chills- A fever can cause you to experience chills and sweating. This symptom can be experienced in both illnesses.
- A cough- Congestion in the upper respiratory tract can cause coughing. Flu and common cold can both cause coughing.
Many of the symptoms you are experiencing with cold or flu are part of the healing process. For example, a fever is a part of your immune system and helps to kill off viruses and bacteria. Sneezing and coughing helps to clear nasal and bronchial passages. Make yourself as comfortable as possible and follow these tips and suggestions.
- Gargle with salt water to help ease a sore throat. Mix half a teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle four times a day.
- Blow your nose correctly. WebMD explains the best way to blow your nose. Grab a tissue and pinch one nostril closed. Then, gently blow the other nostril to help clear phlegm. Blowing too hard can carry germs into your ear passages, resulting in an earache.
- Sleep with an extra pillow to elevate your head and help clear nasal passages.
- Fluids are your friend. Fluids help to break up congestion, prevent dehydration and keep your throat moist. Drink a minimum of 80 ounces of fluids each day. When you are battling the flu or a cold, opt for fruit juices, water, herbal teas, sports drinks or chicken noodle soup.
- Salt water can also be used to help ease nasal congestion. Mix a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda, a quarter teaspoon of salt and 8 ounces of warm water together. Place this solution in a nasal irrigation system or bulb syringe. Close one nostril and squirt the salt water in the other nostril. Allow the solution to drain. Repeat this a couple of times for each nostril.
- Steam is another great way to open up nasal passages and thin secretions in your throat and lungs. Take a hot shower, use a dehumidifier or hold your head over a pot of boiling water to ease congestion.
- Eat foods that contain infection-fighting compounds. These include bell peppers and oranges, which are filled with vitamin C; blueberries to help lower fevers and relieve aches, hot peppers to break up mucus and onion to fight off infection.
Colds and influenza are viral infections that attack the respiratory system, which results in a variety of symptoms including a fever, a stuffy or a runny nose, sore throat, body aches, coughing and a general feeling of malaise. The tips listed above will help relieve these symptoms, keep you comfortable while your body is fighting off the infection and help you get better quicker.