With winter cold and flu season upon us, our tips will get you back on your feet. Rest, hydration, and nasal irrigation with a neti pot can speed up your recovery.
More than 200 viruses cause the common cold, but the rhinovirus and coronavirus are most likely to invade the body during cold and flu season. Exposure can be through air droplets, or by touching our eyes, nose, or mouth after contact with a virus-infected surface such as a doorknob.
Rest to recuperate
Once a virus attacks, it’s important to take the time to heal by ensuring our body gets adequate rest. This allows our body to focus its energy on the immune system.
Staying hydrated with hot liquids is important during a cold or flu to clear nasal passages and to soothe inflammation in the throat. A tea made from ginger root and lemon will stimulate the immune system thanks to the vitamin C in the lemon and the anti-inflammatory properties of both ingredients. Other herbal teas that may be beneficial include echinacea, astragalus, elderberry, and slippery elm. Look for teas at your natural health store.
To soothe a sore, scratchy throat, a saltwater gargle can provide temporary relief. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. To gargle, take a large sip of the solution, tip your head back and let the saltwater settle at the back of your throat, without swallowing. Breathe out slowly from your throat so that the saltwater churns around in your mouth. Continue for 30 seconds, then spit out the solution. Repeat three or four times for maximum benefit.
Blow your nose gently
Using proper technique, blowing your nose gently can help to clear excess mucus from nasal passages and provide temporary relief. It is important not to use too much force as this can cause too much pressure on your eardrums. Cover one nostril while gently blowing air and mucus out the other nostril. Wash your hands immediately to prevent further spread of the virus.
Steam the nasal passages
By keeping the nasal passages moist, steam can help relieve the congestion of a cold or flu. If you’re using a humidifier, be sure to clean it properly to avoid the spread of mold into the air. A cool mist humidifier can help keep the nasal passages clear when it is used at night.
Steam from either a shower or a bowl of hot water can allow mucus to drain so that you can breathe clearly again. To use steam inhalation, fill a bowl or sink with boiling water and lean over it while slowly breathing in the steam. Place a towel over your head and drape it around the bowl or sink to direct the steam upward. Breathe in very slowly to avoid a burning sensation in your nose.
Benefits of proper nasal irrigation
Nasal irrigation is a simple home treatment that can be used to decongest your nose and to open the sinuses. By flushing out the nasal cavity with saline solution, you can improve nasal drainage and decrease pain caused by nasal congestion. (See below on how to use a neti pot.)
Place hot and cold washcloths alternately across your sinuses to help clear congestion. Start with a hot compress for three minutes, followed by 30 seconds with a cold compress. Repeat this three times per treatment for a total of three hot and three cold compresses per treatment. This can be repeated two to six times per day.
Does chicken soup work?
Eating chicken soup may have an effect on a cold or flu in two ways. First, it has been shown in a laboratory setting to inhibit white blood cells from increasing inflammation. Second, the steam from the soup temporarily aids in the movement of mucus from nasal passages.
How to use a neti pot
- Wash your hands and fill a neti pot with cooled, previously boiled water.
- Add saline solution (packages are available, or use 1 tsp/5 mL salt in 2 cups/500 mL water) and mix well.
- Insert the tip of the neti pot into your right nostril; bend head slightly and tilt it to the left. Keep your mouth open so that the water flows out the left nostril and not into your mouth. Allow the solution to gently flow in the right nostril and out the left nostril.
- Blow your nose gently, without blocking either nostril.
- If you taste the salt solution in your mouth or throat, spit it out.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Discard any leftover saline solution.
Best supplements for cold and flu relief
|vitamin C||taken at the onset of a cold, it may reduce a cold’s duration|
|oregano oil||beneficial when added to water for steaming sinuses; contains antimicrobial active ingredients|
|herbal teas such as echinacea, astragalus, or elderberry||may reduce the severity of colds|
|zinc||taken at the onset of a cold or flu, it may decrease its severity|
|garlic||may reduce the severity of a cold|
|Stay home if you||Go to work if you|