It’s that time of year again, and even when you’re trying to be careful, sometimes the flu will strike anyways….and since the flu is caused by a virus and not a bacteria, antibiotics won’t do any good. What does do good is to rest, push fluids and let the illness take its course. Unfortunately, in the meantime, these viral infections can make you feel pretty lousy. The good news is, though, that there are lots of home remedies you can try in the meantime to make you feel better while you recover.
For Chest Congestion
Most people know that Vicks Vapo-Rub (and similar off-brand products) are great for chest congestion when rubbed onto the chest itself…but did another great way to use this product is to rub it onto the feet just before bedtime, then put on a pair of thick socks (to prevent staining the bed linens) and settle in for a good night’s sleep. As crazy as it sounds, rubbing the ointment onto the feet can really help with chest congestion. Part of this may be because the feet are very porous and absorb things easily. It might also be due to the fact that one of the active ingredients in this rub, camphor, is just a powerful decongestant. Either way, it a great way to help clear up congestion.
Another great way to clear up chest congestion is simply to push fluids. If someone is well-hydrated, this helps to thin the mucus causing the congestion in the first place. Thinner mucus is easier to cough up and eliminate from the body. Good hydration will also make it easier for the whole body to recover from a viral infection.
For Nasal Congestion
Nasal congestion is another common problem with the flu — but there are some great at-home remedies for that, too! One of the best — and simplest — ways to treat this problem is with a simple saline nasal spray that can be purchased over-the-counter at any pharmacy and even most grocery stores. It will soothe irritated nasal passages, decrease postnasal drip and even help remove particles of viruses from the nose. The best way to use it is to spray the rinse up one nostril, blow it out gently, then repeat with the other nostril.
Another great at-home remedy for this problem is a steam treatment. Fill the bathroom or kitchen sink with hot water, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil, then slip a towel over the head to form a sort of tent and breathe in the scented steam. Eucalyptus is a safe and effective way to reduce nasal congestion.
For Body Aches
Body aches are one of the most unattractive parts of having the flu — and they can make kids and adults alike pretty miserable. Fortunately, there is a way to clear that up, too. Fill up the tub with warm water and add some Epsom salts and an apple cider vinegar, then soak for about 30 minutes. For kids, having bath toys or other distractions is a good idea to make the time go by faster and it will really help take away the achy feeling in the muscles as well.
For Sore Throats
Sore throats are literally a pain in the neck — and are a very common flu symptom. The good news is that there are ways to take care of that, too. Tea with honey and lemon juice may sound like an old-timey remedy – but it works! The honey coats the irritated membranes of the throat while the vitamin C in the lemon juice strengthens the immune system and makes it easier to fight off bacteria.
Sipping soup is another great way to calm down a sore throat — especially if it is a chicken soup with plenty of spices like ginger (which boost interferon and has antiviral properties), garlic (which also helps strengthen immunity) and cayenne pepper (whose main active ingredient, capsaicin, is both an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory).
Although nausea is not typically a part of the flu, if there is a lot of post-nasal drainage involved, then it is easy to get an upset stomach. One strange way to take care of this is to put a little bit of rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball and breath it in. The smell can help ease nausea — and FYI, it can help stave off car sickness/motion sickness, too!
So, even though flus are difficult to deal with and mostly a matter of waiting to let the illness run its course, these home remedies can make you feel better while you are recovering — and many of them even have antiviral properties that will hopefully decrease the length of the illness.