There is currently no effective cure for the common cold or flu.
The best you can do is to treat the symptoms of both, to reduce the severity of any attack, and to shorten the time for which you need to suffer.
Several over-the-counter remedies are available for colds and flu, but before turning to these, there are a number of self-help measures you can take that will certainly help.
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The Natural Approach to Treating Colds and Flu
Get plenty of rest.
When a cold or flu takes hold, your body’s natural reaction is to fight it, and a battle commences within your immune system.
This fight can put a considerable strain on your body, and you can help by getting as much rest as you can during the early stages of any attack. Trying to push on through a cold or flu attack might seem like the best thing to do, but it actually makes matters worse.
Blow your nose.
One common effect of a cold is that the body produces excess mucus and, all too often, you are tempted to sniffle this back into your system, rather than blow it out through your nose. This mucus however needs to be cleared from the body and blowing your nose is far more effective than sniffling.
But there is a right way and a wrong way to blow your nose, and blowing hard out of both nostrils at the same time can leave you with a sore nose, and possibly earache as well. To blow your nose, use a finger to close one nostril while you blow out gently through the other. Then, repeat this for the other nostril.
Gargling will keep your throat moist and help relieve that annoying tickle and cough which so often accompanies the sore throat a cold or flu inevitably brings with it.
To simply keep your sore throat moist, dissolve a little salt in warm water and gargle with it four or five times each day. To reduce that tickle in the throat, gargle with an astringent, such as tea, or use a viscous gargle, such as that made from a mixture of honey and apple cider vinegar.
Drink plenty of hot liquids
It is very important that you keep your body well hydrated while you are fighting off a cold or the flu, but simply drinking plenty of water to do this is not as effective as taking liquid in the form of frequent hot drinks. Hot liquids are excellent for soothing inflamed membranes in both your throat and nose, and also help to relieve nasal congestion.
All of these self-help measures will go some way towards reducing the severity of your cold and flu symptoms and speed your recover, but you will need to do a little bit more than this. The next thing to turn your attention to is your diet.
It is often said that your should feed a cold and starve a fever, however, this is incorrect. Illness often leads to a loss of appetite, but in many cases, including those of a cold or flu, you need to eat so that your body has the fuel it needs to fight off these conditions.
Cold and Flu Fighting Foods
Chicken soup is an old favorite when it comes to relieving the symptoms of colds and flu and there are very good, and scientific, reasons for this. It scores of course simply by being a hot liquid, but more than this, it reduces inflammation in both the throat and nasal passages, and improves the ability of cilia, contained within the nasal passages, to fight off bacterial and viral infections.
One of the best foods for a cold or the flu is a salad, but there is a good chance that you are not going to feel much like standing in the kitchen for long enough to make yourself a good bowl of salad.
A quick and easy alternative is to turn to a glass of vegetable juice. This will not only help to keep you hydrated, but it contains a wealth of antioxidants that will boost your immune system.
The humble banana is another quick and easy food item, and is especially good if the effects of your cold or flu have reached your stomach, and you have symptoms of nausea or are experiencing diarrhea. Bananas, together with rice, toast and apple sauce are easy on the stomach, and are often the first foods that doctors will recommend when you are recovering from stomach flu.
Ginger is another excellent food for tackling the problems of nausea or a stomachache, frequently associated with the flu.
Ginger will calm your stomach and help to fight inflammation, and it can be added to other foods, either freshly grated or as a powder. If you do not like eating ginger, then simply take it in liquid form by drinking flat ginger ale.
Garlic is not everyone’s favorite food item, but it will fight off bacterial infection and help to stimulate your immune system.
It has also been shown to produce relief for the congestion of colds and flu. If you do not like the taste of garlic, try adding just a little to other foods, such as soup.
Self-help remedies and a good diet are an excellent start to reducing the severity of a cold or flu attack, and they should certainly be your first line of defense.
To have a real impact on your symptoms however you may need to add some over-the-counter medication into the mix.
Colds and flu are simply part of life and, until a cure can be found, we must learn to live with them.
However, while a severe case of either can certainly be very unpleasant, most cases are relatively mild and do not debilitate us too much.
A little self-help, a good diet, and perhaps a bit of over-the-counter medication, will usually produce a noticeable reducing in the your symptoms, and thus in your suffering.
Health by choice, not by chance.
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