9 Tips to Treat Colds and Flu the ‘Natural’ Way
With no cure in sight for the cold or the flu, current treatments can at best bring symptom relief or shorten the duration of those symptoms. You can take one of a variety of medications that may help relieve your symptoms. Or you can take the natural approach.
No. 1: Blow Your Nose Often — and the Right Way
It’s important to blow your nose regularly when you have a cold rather than sniffling mucus back into your head. But when you blow hard, pressure can cause an earache. The best way to blow your nose: Press a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other. Wash your hands after blowing your nose.
No. 2: Stay Rested
Resting when you first come down with a cold or the flu helps your body direct its energy toward the immune battle. This battle taxes the body. So give it a little help by lying down under a blanket.
No. 3: Gargle
Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water, four times daily. To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle — such as tea that contains tannin — to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey, popular in folk medicine. Steep one tablespoon of raspberry leaves or lemon juice in two cups of hot water; mix with one teaspoon of honey. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling. Honey should never be given to children less than 1 year old.
No. 4: Drink Hot Liquids
Hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, help prevent dehydration, and can soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat.
No. 5: Take a Steamy Shower
Steamy showers moisturize your nasal passages and relax you. If you’re dizzy from the flu, run a steamy shower while you sit on a chair nearby and take a sponge bath.
No. 6: Use a Salve Under Your Nose
A small dab of mentholated salve under your nose can open breathing passages and help soothe the irritated skin at the base of the nose. Menthol, eucalyptus and camphor all have mild numbing ingredients that may help relieve the pain of a nose rubbed raw.
No. 7: Apply Hot or Cold Packs Around Your Congested Sinuses
Either temperature may help you feel more comfortable. You can buy reusable hot or cold packs at a drugstore. Or make your own. Take a damp washcloth and heat it for 55 seconds in a microwave (test the temperature first to make sure it’s right for you.) Or take a small bag of frozen peas to use as a cold pack.
No. 8: Sleep With an Extra Pillow Under Your Head
This will help with the drainage of nasal passages. If the angle is too awkward, try placing the pillows between the mattress and the box springs to create a more gradual slope.
No. 9: Don’t Fly Unless Necessary
There’s no point adding stress to your already stressed-out upper respiratory system, and that’s what the change in air pressure will do. Flying with cold or flu congestion can hurt your eardrums as a result of pressure changes during takeoff and landing. If you must fly, use a decongestant and carry a nasal spray with you to use just before takeoff and landing. Chewing gum and swallowing frequently can also help relieve pressure.
Remember, serious conditions can masquerade as the common cold and a mild infection can evolve into something more serious. If you have severe symptoms or are feeling sicker with each passing day, see a doctor.
Health & Happiness!
|Other names||Cold, acute viral nasopharyngitis, nasopharyngitis, viral rhinitis, rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza, head cold|
|A representation of the molecular surface of one variant of human rhinovirus|
|Symptoms||Cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever|
|Complications||Otitis media, sinusitis|
|Usual onset||~2 days from exposure|
|Differential diagnosis||Allergic rhinitis, bronchitis, pertussis, sinusitis|
|Prevention||Hand washing, face mask|
|Treatment||Symptomatic therapy, zinc|
|Frequency||2–4 per year (adults); 6–8 per year (young children)|
The common cold, also known simply as a cold, is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract that primarily affects the nose. The throat, sinuses, and larynx may also be affected. Signs and symptoms may appear less than two days after exposure to the virus. These may include coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, headache, and fever. People usually recover in seven to ten days, but some symptoms may last up to three weeks. Occasionally those with other health problems may develop pneumonia.
Well over 200 virus strains are implicated in causing the common cold, with rhinoviruses being the most common. They spread through the air during close contact with infected people or indirectly through contact with objects in the environment, followed by transfer to the mouth or nose. Risk factors include going to child care facilities, not sleeping well, and psychological stress. The symptoms are mostly due to the body’s immune response to the infection rather than to tissue destruction by the viruses themselves. In contrast, those affected by influenza can show similar symptoms as people with a cold, but symptoms are usually more severe. Additionally, influenza is less likely to result in a runny nose.
There is no vaccine for the common cold. The primary methods of prevention are hand washing; not touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; and staying away from sick people. Some evidence supports the use of face masks. There is also no cure, but the symptoms can be treated. Zinc may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms if started shortly after the onset of symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may help with pain. Antibiotics, however, should not be used and there is no good evidence for cough medicines.
The common cold is the most frequent infectious disease in humans. The average adult gets two to three colds a year, while the average child may get six to eight. Infections occur more commonly during the winter. These infections have existed throughout human history.
- 1 Signs and symptoms
- 2 Cause
- 3 Pathophysiology
- 4 Diagnosis
- 5 Prevention
- 6 Management
- 7 Prognosis
- 8 Epidemiology
- 9 History
- 10 Society and culture
- 11 Research directions
- 12 References
- 13 External links
|Other names||Flu, the flu|
|Influenza virus, magnified approximately 100,000 times|
|Symptoms||Fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, feeling tired|
|Usual onset||Two days after exposure|
|Prevention||Handwashing, surgical mask, influenza vaccine|
|Medication||Antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir|
|Frequency||3–5 million severe cases per year|
|Deaths||Up to 650,000 per year|
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks. In children, there may be diarrhea and vomiting, but these are not common in adults. Diarrhea and vomiting occur more commonly in gastroenteritis, which is an unrelated disease and sometimes inaccurately referred to as “stomach flu” or the “24-hour flu”. Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure.
Three of the four types of influenza viruses affect humans: Type A, Type B, and Type C. Type D has not been known to infect humans, but is believed to have the potential to do so. Usually, the virus is spread through the air from coughs or sneezes. This is believed to occur mostly over relatively short distances. It can also be spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus and then touching the mouth or eyes. A person may be infectious to others both before and during the time they are showing symptoms. The infection may be confirmed by testing the throat, sputum, or nose for the virus. A number of rapid tests are available; however, people may still have the infection even if the results are negative. A type of polymerase chain reaction that detects the virus’s RNA is more accurate.
Frequent hand washing reduces the risk of viral spread. Wearing a surgical mask is also useful. Yearly vaccinations against influenza are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for those at high risk, and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for those six months of age and older. The vaccine is usually effective against three or four types of influenza. It is usually well-tolerated. A vaccine made for one year may not be useful in the following year, since the virus evolves rapidly. Antiviral drugs such as the neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir, among others, have been used to treat influenza. The benefit of antiviral drugs in those who are otherwise healthy do not appear to be greater than their risks. No benefit has been found in those with other health problems.
Influenza spreads around the world in yearly outbreaks, resulting in about three to five million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths. About 20% of unvaccinated children and 10% of unvaccinated adults are infected each year. In the northern and southern parts of the world, outbreaks occur mainly in the winter, while around the equator, outbreaks may occur at any time of the year. Death occurs mostly in the young, the old, and those with other health problems. Larger outbreaks known as pandemics are less frequent. In the 20th century, three influenza pandemics occurred: Spanish influenza in 1918 (40–50 million deaths), Asian influenza in 1957 (two million deaths), and Hong Kong influenza in 1968 (one million deaths). The World Health Organization declared an outbreak of a new type of influenza A/H1N1 to be a pandemic in June 2009. Influenza may also affect other animals, including pigs, horses, and birds.
- 1 Signs and symptoms
- 2 Virology
- 3 Mechanism
- 4 Prevention
- 5 Diagnosis
- 6 Treatment
- 7 Prognosis
- 8 Epidemiology
- 9 History
- 10 Society and culture
- 11 Research
- 12 Other animals
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
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