Cold and flu season will have a new twist this year. With so many symptoms of COVID-19 resembling those of the common cold or flu, it can be difficult to tell what’s going on. To be certain, however, please contact your healthcare provider at the first sign of any symptoms listed by the Centers for Disease Control as potential COVID-19 symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Sounds a lot like standard cold or flu symptoms, right? The only thing missing is sneezing. Before the pandemic, we would have said to call your doctor only if your symptoms were severe, but now it is important to seek medical attention if you have any of these symptoms.
After you’ve confirmed that you do indeed have the common cold or flu and not the coronavirus, you can expect your cold to last about a week or two. In the meantime, you can treat and relieve the symptoms with natural remedies and feel less miserable until you recover.
Knocking off a day or two is huge when you need to get back to life at full strength, so how do you get rid of the flu or get over a cold faster? Luckily, there are things you can consume or do to alleviate many of your symptoms. The best cold and flu remedies are easy and natural.
First, make sure you can safely consume or use the items that we are about to discuss, especially if you have known allergies to some natural substances. For example, some people are allergic to certain kinds of flowers. Similarly, honey should not be given to children under 1 year old due to their underdeveloped immune systems being unable to protect against potential spores that can cause botulism.
Again, if your symptoms are severe or appear on the above list of COVID-19 symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately.
Natural home remedies: Things you can consume
Might as well start with the classic. You might be asking if this is really a cold remedy or just something people have claimed for generations. The answer is both.
Studies have shown that chicken soup works on a few levels to treat and relieve cold and flu symptoms. The steam helps open sinuses and clear airways. Broth helps fight dehydration. The vegetables in the soup provide vitamins to boost your immune system.
More scientifically, chicken soup with vegetables helps neutrophils, a common type of white blood cell, to slow down and congregate in areas they are most needed in your body. Ultimately, chicken soup can help fight upper respiratory tract infections with an anti-inflammatory effect. And a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup just makes you feel good.
Go for a low-sodium chicken soup, as too much sodium can increase inflammation.
Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
It’s easy to get dehydrated when you feel miserable. Between having no appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and sweating with a fever, you’re losing fluids and electrolytes like a pro athlete. So, it’s important to keep the fluids coming in at least as quickly as they’re going out. Easier said than done, no doubt. Staying hydrated will help reduce inflammation and help your body process and eliminate waste and toxins from fighting whatever virus you’ve got.
We’ve talked about broth from chicken noodle soup already. Other helpful fluids to drink include water (of course), Gatorade or other sports drinks and fruit juices like orange juice (high in Vitamin C) and apple juice. Hot tea (green tea, herbal tea) with honey and lemon juice will help soothe your sore throat at the same time as it rehydrates you. You can make your own or try Vicks FluTherapy Honey Lemon Hot Drink. Pedialyte is a favorite among parents because it’s already on hand. Beverages to avoid while you’re battling the flu bug include coffee, alcohol and caffeinated sodas.
The health benefits of ginger are legendary and supported by scientific research. Some of the highlights include treating nausea and providing powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Fresh ginger may also help fight a virus that causes respiratory infections and potentially reduce the risk of infection.
Use fresh ginger root to make your own homemade ginger tea to soothe your sore throat and gain all the rest of the health benefits ginger has to offer.
Another option is ginger kombucha, which joins the health benefits of the root and the ancient, fermented tea beverage. The combination of probiotics and antioxidants offer another great way to hydrate.
As one of the superpower ingredients in tea with honey and lemon, honey can help soothe sore throats and suppress coughs. Research shows that honey also can help improve sleep. That makes sense since you’re not waking up to cough uncontrollably.
Remember, though: Don’t give honey to children under 1 year old.
The best way to get a boost of vitamin C is from eating foods high in it like citrus fruits, bell peppers and green leafy vegetables. As mentioned above, fruit juices like orange juice are a great source of vitamin C. Another option is to take vitamin C supplements, which help strengthen your immune system.
Use food power to fight infection
According to WebMD:
- Black tea and green tea contain catechin, a phytochemical to naturally treat diarrhea.
- Blueberries naturally contain small amounts of salicylate, the active ingredient in aspirin, which may provide pain relief and help reduce fevers (just beware if you have a salicylate sensitivity). They are also high in antioxidants and prebiotic fiber that is a food source for probiotics, the good bacteria, which can help improve digestive health.
- Citrus fruits, kiwi, mango, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries and cranberries are all good sources of vitamin C. Vegetables high in vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, tomatoes and tomato juice. Consider Original V8 or V8 Splash to get a strong blend.
- Cranberries and cranberry juice contain compounds called proanthocyanidins that prevent E. coli from sticking to the walls of the digestive and urinary tracts, which may help prevent bladder and urinary tract infections.
- Mustard contains antioxidants that may help build your immune system to protect against bacteria and fungi, though more research is needed.
- Onions contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C that fight bacteria as well as boost digestive health. They also contain phytochemicals that may help fight bronchitis.
- Bananas are a good source of soluble fiber as well as prebiotics, which feed probiotics, the good bacteria for digestive health. This can help calm nausea and diarrhea.
Easy home remedies: Things you can do
Your body heals itself when you sleep. The impact of good sleep on your health and the strength of your immune system has been thoroughly proven by plenty of research, according to Mayo Clinic.
Sleeping isn’t always easy when you’re in the middle of the creeping crud. If you’re having trouble getting good sleep because your symptoms won’t calm down, try a nighttime honey lemon hot drink from Vicks. Just be sure to read and follow the directions.
Wash your hands
You know the drill: Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. And do it frequently. It’s one of the easiest ways to prevent getting sick and spreading germs.
Blow your nose
Clear out the mucus that traps germs and other waste to help your sinuses heal. Stock up on tissues.
Gargle salt water
Gargling with salt water (1 teaspoon of salt dissolved into 1 cup of warm water) can help kill bacteria in your mouth and scratchy throat. Gargle and swish the solution around in your mouth and spit out. It may not taste great, but it’ll be worth the trouble.
You can also use nasal sprays or warm salt water to flush your sinuses with something like a neti pot. It will not feel good, but it will wash out mucus and bacteria and soon reduce sinus inflammation and nasal congestion. Be sure to use distilled water or otherwise sterile water. Do not use tap water, as some bacteria remaining in it may cause dangerous infections in your sinus cavity.
Use vapor rub
Rub on under your nose and on your chest as a natural decongestant. Vapor rubs usually contain eucalyptus oil, menthol, peppermint and other essential oils that open nasal passages and relieve sinus congestion. Bye bye, stuffy nose.
Use a humidifier or take a hot shower. Heating with a furnace during the cooler weather dries the air out, creating flu and cold viruses’ favorite environment. This can also cause dehydration and inflammation of your sinuses. Adding moisture to the air will help reduce inflammation and make it more difficult for a virus to survive and thrive.
Hopefully this helps you and yours feel better soon. Be sure to stay home if you’re sick so you don’t potentially make others sick, too, especially if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Find out if there’s a goPuff in your area and let us bring you what you need!