Flu season is upon us, and this year has proven to be a fierce one. While the best way to handle this illness is simply to avoid it in the first place, if you or someone you love comes down with it, there are some things that you will need to be aware of to help to treat it head-on.
In this article, we will explore what exactly the flu is and provide you with some of the top ways that can help you tackle it to keep your bout from getting even worse.
What is Flu?
Let us first start with what the flu is and how it affects your body. The flu (or influenza) is an extremely contagious disease that affects your respiratory system, including your lungs, throat, and nose. While some cases of flu can be pretty mild, some can become severe, leading to hospitalization.
When you develop the flu, most people notice symptoms that include a cough, fever, hot sweats, cold chills, a sore throat, nasal issues, body and muscle aches, and headaches. It should certainly be noted that not everyone experiences the flu the same way and may not have all of the aforementioned symptoms. It is widely believed that the flu is spread through germs and droplets from those who already have the flu.
In other words, if you come in contact with someone who has the flu, you can get it simply by talking with them, touching them, or having them accidentally cough or sneeze on you.
On average, the flu lasts about a week or two. If you feel that you may be developing the flu or have been in contact with someone who has it, you must take proactive measures to keep it from spreading; you can be infectious for at least 5-7 days after you have started experiencing the early symptoms.
When it comes to treating the flu, there are a large number of conventional treatments that can be used to help ease the pain and discomfort that are associated with its symptoms. Here we will be taking a closer look at some of the top ways to do so.
The first conventional treatment for the flu is pretty standard: get plenty of rest and take in sufficient fluids to stay hydrated and nourished.
There are a lot of beneficial prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, as well, that can assist you in alleviating some of the pain and discomfort that are associated with the flu.
Some of the top OTC medications are:
- Cough syrups;
- Flu and cold medications;
- Aspirin and Ibuprofen;
Some of the top prescription medications are:
- Oseltamivir is a tablet-form medication that is used to help treat both influenza A and influenza B. In addition, the medication helps to prevent the flu virus from spreading.
- Antibiotics are never actually used to treat the flu unless you develop a chest infection.
- Zanamivir, which helps to treat both influenza A and B, is available in powder form so that you simply inhale it via your mouth. The medication also helps to prevent the spread of the flu.
There are a number of conventional remedies that are available at your local pharmacy and from your physician. However, you need to follow the dosage options properly and carefully. Sometimes when you are in pain or discomfort from the flu, you may be tempted to take more than the label states. But you must always follow the dosage with care.
If your OTC medications are not working, it is essential to plan a visit to your healthcare provider to determine the best options for your needs.
Home Remedies for Flu
When all else fails in conventional treatments for helping to treat the flu, more often than not, home remedies are an even better way.
Here, we will be examining more than 14 tried and true home remedies that you may consider trying when you have come down with the flu.
1. Raw Garlic
Garlic is an essential antioxidant that boasts some pertinent health-related properties, including antibiotic, antiviral, and even antimicrobial. Raw garlic is perfect for providing your body with expectorant and decongestant assistance when you have the flu.
While science has yet to pinpoint precisely why garlic is so incredibly effective in helping combat the flu, it is presumed that this may be due to the fact that garlic is packed with vitamin C, enzymes, and essential minerals, as well. Therefore, it is recommended to eat one or two raw cloves about every 3-4 hours until you feel that you have eliminated the sickness. You can also opt to crush, chop, or mince your garlic cloves if consuming a large clove at one time is too much for your taste buds.
2. Bone Broth
Bone broth is a timeless staple for helping to ward off symptoms of the flu. Bone broth is incredibly simple to make (you simply simmer bones of your choice of animal for several hours in water until the broth takes on a deep brown color) and is loaded with countless feel-better effects.
The secret behind bone broth’s powerful benefits is that the gelatin in the bones is composed of hydrophilic colloids, which can help to rid your body of the flu infection. It has even been shown to ward off pain and inflammation, as well.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is great for helping your body deal with the flu due largely to its ability to calm your cough, treat a sore throat, ward off a sinus infection, and balance out your body’s pH levels to help you recover faster.
The best way to consume apple cider vinegar is either a direct 1-3 tablespoonful or the same amount diluted into an 8 oz. glass of water. If you are sensitive to the taste of apple cider vinegar, there are a number of ways that you can easily ingest it to gain maximum benefits. Instead, you can add equal amounts of honey to the vinegar or add it to an 8 oz. glass of apple juice or tea.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is probably one of the most popular natural remedies for treating the flu. According to recent research, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to support and stimulate your immune system. Be sure always to take the recommended dosage of vitamin C, though, as overdosing can lead to nausea, diarrhea, or even kidney issues. If you are unsure what the proper dosage is or are thinking that it may be in your best interest to take more vitamin C to help treat your flu symptoms, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider first.
5. Stinging Nettle Leaf
Many homeopathic and naturopathic health providers speak very highly about stinging nettle leaves’ benefits. Stinging nettle leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals that help keep your body hydrated while also eliminating toxins from your body.
The best way to take advantage of the benefits of stinging nettle leaf is by drinking it in tea. Boiling the leaves in about 1 ½ cups of water will remove the sting that is associated with the leaves; after you have boiled for about 5 minutes or so to achieve the desired color (the darker the color, the more pungent the tea), strain out the leaves and enjoy.
Elderberries boast some pretty significant benefits for fighting back against the flu, as they are loaded with antiviral properties that not only help to treat symptoms but can also treat the flu itself.
Elderberries contain a protein called hemagglutinin, which has been shown to prevent infections, such as the flu, from crossing your body’s cell walls, preventing the onset of the flu. The protein also helps to keep the infection from spreading in the event that it does start to attack your immune system. You can find a wide array of different options to purchase elderberry online.
Some of the most common forms in which to take it are a syrup form, teas, and even supplements.
7. Essential Oils
There are a lot of excellent and highly-useful essential oils that can help you cope with your flu symptoms. One of the best essential home remedies for the flu is a combination of peppermint and frankincense.
Peppermint works wonders to help break up congestion in your nasal cavity and your chest. At the same time, frankincense promotes a sense of calming relaxation and brings your body to a restorative state to help you heal faster.
You can place a few drops of both of the essential oils into a diffuser, or you can opt to combine them with a bit of natural oil (such as olive oil) to create a massage elixir that can be applied directly to your skin.
One of the best benefits of yarrow for treating the flu is that it works wonders for both children and adults. Yarrow is a member of the sunflower family, and it is excellent for helping to relieve fevers, promote a calming sense of relaxation, provide relief from muscle cramps, and even shorten the overall duration of the flu.
You can apply it topically or internally, though for treating the flu, it is usually best to drink it in the form of tea, as it can help to break up chest congestion and mucus and can also ease a sore throat.
Ginger helps to treat the flu because it can eliminate toxins from your body via sweat. It is also perfect for helping ease stomach issues such as nausea and vomiting, and it can also decrease dizziness and cold sweats. Ginger tea is one of the easiest ways to consume ginger, particularly if you are sensitive to its taste.
You can also opt to take ginger in the form of a supplement, but you may not receive all of the benefits that pure ginger has to offer your body.
Chamomile is a great way to help you cope with your flu symptoms. Chamomile works as a decongestant that can soothe your chest and promote easier, more comfortable breathing. It also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits to help you get rid of a sore throat and runny nose more quickly. Not to mention the fact that it also is a natural sedative that can allow your body to relax and heal itself more effectively.
While drinking chamomile tea is a wonderful way to take advantage of these benefits, perhaps the best way is to inhale its vapors.
Simply boil a quart of water in a pot with a handful of dried or fresh chamomile flowers (or about 6-8 tea bags), and allow the mixture to steep in a heat-resistant bowl for about 10 minutes. Then, cover your head and the bowl with a towel, and breathe in the vapors of the chamomile steam for more than 10 minutes to receive the maximum benefits.
Echinacea is one of the most reliable natural supplements you should take to help ward off cold and flu.
However, it also is great to take when you have already developed the flu due to its ability to strengthen your body’s white blood cells and help them prevent infection. Echinacea has also been shown to help decrease the overall length of time that you are sick. And it can help keep germs at bay, which can prevent you from getting sicker.
In several recent studies, it was shown that probiotics are not simply great for promoting good gut health, but they are also highly useful in warding off upper respiratory infections that may occur in association with the flu.
Our bodies work best when all of our body’s bacteria are properly balanced. That is precisely what makes probiotics so beneficial in helping your body cope with the flu.
When the flu is attacking, probiotics can come to your body’s defense, boosting your immune system to ward it off, thus preventing you from getting sicker and helping you heal faster.
13. Honey and Cinnamon
While honey and cinnamon do not help cure your flu, they can significantly help ease some of the pain and discomfort that come with it.
Concoctions of honey and cinnamon have been noted to work wonders by coating your throat to relieve some of the soreness, and the mixture has also been shown to help relieve annoying and often painful coughing.
You can opt simply to combine a tablespoon of raw honey with ½ tsp of cinnamon and take it straight, or you can mix the concoction in a tea (chamomile would be perfect!).
Zinc has been shown to play no role in preventing the development of the flu, but it does help your body fight back against it.
Zinc is a naturally forming mineral that can be found in every cell in your body, and it is vital to proper health and balance of cell and hormonal function.
This is why, when you boost your body with zinc at the onset of the flu, you are preparing your body to fight against the negative flu symptoms and infection.
How to Prevent Flu
The best way to handle the flu is simply to avoid getting it in the first place. Unfortunately, this can be incredibly difficult when it seems like everyone around you is coming down with some form of it.
In this next section, we will provide you with some of the top ways to take action against getting the flu!
- Wash Your Hands
Some of the top tasks you do daily after which you should wash your hands include, but are certainly not limited to, using the restroom, touching your cell phone or someone else’s, shaking hands, touching a public door handle, touching the banister of a staircase or escalator, pushing an elevator button, and always before eating.
- Carry Hand Sanitizer
While washing your hands is the best way to prevent getting the flu, there are sometimes when we simply can’t get to a faucet and soap. That is why it is crucial to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer on you wherever you go. They come in pocket sizes, so there really is no excuse not to keep some nearby for when you need it the most. It kills the bacteria that spread the flu and can save you a ton of hassle in the long run.
- Use Tissues
Tissues are significantly better than handkerchiefs at trapping the germs and bacteria that are spread when you sneeze or blow your nose. However, it is important that you dispose of them immediately and properly and then wash your hands to avoid spreading bacteria to others.
- Plan Accordingly
One of the best ways to practice precautionary measures against the flu is to begin taking a daily regimen of essential vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system and prepare it for any flu exposure that may occur. Be sure to take extra vitamin C and Echinacea as both work wonders for keeping your body’s natural defenses on track.
- Get Outside and Exercise
Getting outside and into nature is not only an excellent way to boost your mental and physical state, but it also works wonders for your heart and your immune system. So whether you are going for a brisk walk around the park or hitting the trail for a day-long hike, the more you can get outside and breathe in some fresh air, the stronger your body will be to fight the flu!
- Get Plenty of Rest
With all that your body handles every day, it is important to your body’s strength to take the time to stay well-rested. When your body and mind are strong, they will be more ready to ward off illness.
- Don’t Stress
Stress wreaks havoc on not only our minds but also our bodies. When our mind and body are not quite right, our natural defenses will kick in, which means that there will be less protection to ward off attacks that they are not expecting, such as illness.
Our immune systems also become increasingly weaker the more we stress, which is why it is imperative to ensure that you find some downtime to get your mind right and balanced.
- Eat Right
A healthy diet is exactly what your body requires to ensure that it is strong and can help it stave off the flu. When your body is healthy and full of all of the vitamins and minerals that it needs, the more ready it is to ward off any illness, including the flu!
When to Visit Your Doctor
For the most part, handling the flu can be taken care of at home with the proper remedies, a lot of rest, and sufficient liquids to keep your body nourished and hydrated.
However, there are several red flags that should be watched out for. If any of these arise, you need to plan a visit to your doctor, urgent care, or even the E.R.
Some things to be on the lookout for include your symptoms not getting better or worsening, your symptoms getting better and then coming back, a fever that is over 103 degrees, difficulty breathing, confusion, disorientation, difficulty staying awake, fever that lasts more than three days, if you are wheezing, or if the pain starts and stays in only one area of your body such as your ears or your throat.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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