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Home Remedies for Fast Flu Relief


Flu Symptoms: Scratchy Throat and Congestion

Here are some tips to soothe a scratchy throat and chest congestion:

  • Eat hot chicken soup: If the flu has taken its toll on your throat, and it's hard to swallow without grimacing, sip some hot chicken soup. Hot chicken soup is a potent mucus stimulant, especially when it's loaded with pepper, garlic, hot curry powder, or other pungent spice that helps to thin mucus in the mouth, throat, and lungs. Studies have shown that hot chicken soup improves the function of cilia, the tiny hair like projections in the nasal passages that protect the body from foreign bacteria and viruses. Steaming chicken soup may also improve the motion of disease-fighting white blood cells.
  • Add spice to your meal: Garlic appears to have antimicrobial and immune-stimulating properties and may give relief of upper respiratory congestion with cold or flu. Ginger also stimulates nerves that lead to mucus production. Ginger appears to have an antioxidant effect, as well as an anti-inflammatory effect, and stimulates the production of interferon that helps fight viral infections. Chili peppers are a great source of capsaicin, an antioxidant that also acts as a natural decongestant and expectorant. Horseradish contains a chemical similar to one found in decongestants.
  • Try an expectorant: With a cold or flu, it's important to keep mucus thin so it doesn't stagnate and allow bacteria to breed, thus, increasing the chances of infection. Try an over-the-counter expectorant such as guaifenesin, which is found in cough products such as Robitussin and Mucinex. Remember that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be given to children under 4. Follow the directions on the label.

Flu Symptoms: Fever and Muscle Aches

Ease fever and body aches with these tips:

  • Try an OTC analgesic: A fever is your body's way of fighting the viral infection. There are over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol and Advil that can reduce fever and ease aching muscles. Follow the dosage recommendation on the label. Never give aspirin to a child to reduce fever! Call your doctor if you're unsure about what to take to ease fever and body aches.
  • Drink more fluids: With a fever, you can easily become dehydrated. Be sure to drink lots of liquids such as water, clear soups or broth, or an electrolyte replacement drink until the fever resolves.
  • Stay in bed and rest: Getting plenty of rest is important to boost immune function and give your body time to heal. It is during the deeper stages of sleep that you experience metabolic and tissue restoration.


Flu Symptoms: Nighttime Congestion and Can't Sleep

Try these tips to help you breathe easier so you can sleep:

  • Try a humidifier: If the air in your room is too dry, use a warm mist humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture to the air and help ease nasal and chest congestion. Always clean the humidifier with a bleach solution every few days to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds.
  • Use nasal strips: If the flu has caused nasal swelling and congestion, making it difficult to fall asleep, try over-the-counter nasal strips to alleviate this problem. These strips of tape are placed over the lower one-third (fleshy) part of the nose, then a plastic strip springs back, helping to gently open your nasal passages and reduce airflow resistance. Another method of opening the nasal passages is to use surgical tape, one-quarter inch wide. Gently apply one end of the tape to the tip of your nose, lift, and fasten the other end of the tape to the top of your nose.
  • Elevate your head: Prop your head up with pillows and sleep elevated to ease nighttime congestion.

The flu is miserable -- no doubt. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and do what you can to feel better. If your symptoms don't get better in a few weeks, or seem to be getting worse, call your health care provider.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on August 01, 2014
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