How to get rid of colds and flu fast
Since colds and flu tend to be caused by viruses, there is often little doctors can do to help – but don’t despair, this doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do! I often get people asking what they can do to resolve their symptoms faster, since, after all, we all have busy lives to get back to and falling unwell is no fun.
So today I thought I’d share a few simple tips that should reduce your symptoms and help you bounce back to health quicker.
1. Get plenty of rest
Don’t be afraid to request some time off work and take a sofa day instead. Relax on the sofa with a good book or DVD and let your body get to work fighting your infection. Staying home also means you won’t spread the virus to your colleagues!
Sleep is so important for immune function, so make sure you get as much as you can. You should be aiming for at least 8 hours each night, although this can be difficult when you’ve got a runny or blocked nose, a cough or aches and pains. If you’ve taken a day off, you can also nap during the day if you feel like you need it.
2. Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated helps to keep mucus thin, preventing your nasal passages and sinuses from becoming too congested. Thin mucus is more able to drain out of the nose, helping to remove bacteria.
Staying hydrated is also extra important if you have a flu that is causing a fever or vomiting, as you need to replace the water you’re losing.
3. Eat some soup
It’s fairly common to lose your appetite while you have a cold or flu, since your body won’t want to take on heavy digesting whilst it’s trying to fight an infection. Soup is a great way to get some much needed nutrients into your body, without putting too much pressure on your digestive system.
There is some evidence to suggest that chicken soup is particularly useful while you’ve got a cold or flu, but any soup that’s packed full of veggies will do you good.
This broccoli, kale and sweet potato soup is particularly rich in a number of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and it’s so tasty and comforting too!
However, spicy food can help to clear nasal passages, so something spicy might be a good idea. This Bombay Potato and Leek soup is a delicious spicy version of a classic soup, plus it contains ginger which is great for the immune system.
4. Try some Echinacea
Echinacea has been traditionally used by Native American tribes for hundreds of years, and when Alfred Vogel saw its amazing benefits he knew he had to bring some back to Europe. Today, it is our go-to cold and flu remedy, and our Echinaforce range is licensed for the relief of colds and flu.
Echinacea helps your immune system fight off the infection; easing symptoms and helping you recover as quickly as possible.
There's a huge choice to suit everyone – the liquid drops absorb quickly and easily, the tablets are convenient, the hot drink is incredibly comforting if you are struggling to manage a particularly hard-hitting infection and finally the throat spray is great for soothing a sore throat which is often the first sign of an infection – help stop it in its tracks!
5. Try a nasal spray
A nasal spray can help to loosen mucus in the nose and clear congestion, which is particularly useful at night when you’re trying to sleep.
Conventional nasal sprays can be full of nasty chemicals, as well as things like steroids, and you often can’t use them for more than a couple of days in a row.
Our own Sinuforce is a natural combination of eucalyptus oil peppermint oil and chamomile in a gentle saline solution. It’s great for colds in children as it can be used by anyone over the age of 2, and it’s great for stubborn congestion as it can be used for up to 30 days.
6. Over-the-counter medicine
If your cold or flu is particularly stubborn, you may want to look at over-the-counter medicine. Paracetamol is often a good choice for headaches and achy muscles, but it may not be much help for your runny nose or cough.
Decongestants are often a popular choice, but just make sure to check the paracetamol content if you’re also taking paracetamol on its own. It’s also important to note that some contain caffeine, which can be great for giving you a bit of energy back, but not so good if you are particularly sensitive to stimulants.
7. Honey and lemon
Warm water mixed with honey and lemon is one of my favourite remedies for a cold or flu! The honey is really soothing if you’ve got a dry throat or tickly cough, so I often use this before bed to prevent night-time coughing. The lemon also helps to loosen congestion, which can help to ease chesty coughs too.
Read more about the best drinks for a cold here.
8. Inhale some steam
Steam is a great way to clear your nasal passages and clear congestion, and can be a great choice if you don’t want to use nasal sprays. A hot shower or bath is a good choice, but you can also simply fill a bowl with boiling water and gently breathe the steam in. Adding a few drops of essential oils can speed up this process.
When to see a doctor
We know that runny noses and tickly throats can take a long time to disappear completely, but if your symptoms last more than 7 days without improving, or if they get worse, you should go and see a doctor to make sure it isn’t anything more serious.
If your symptoms seem particularly severe, it is always worth going to see a doctor earlier to double check. Symptoms you should look out for include: difficulty breathing, vomiting and diarrhoea, persistent high fever and green or brown mucus.
Read my other article on when to see your doctor for a cold or flu for more advice.
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