Flu season takes down lots of people every year. Even with vaccination, you can contract a unique strain of influenza and be out of commission for days or even weeks on end. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to make your symptoms less severe without over-the-counter meds — and some of them might even help you get well sooner!
Don’t Go to Work
This one kind of goes without saying, but if you’re sick with the flu, it’s imperative that you stay home and relax. Stress will only make your symptoms worse and help the virus stay in your system longer. Plus, infecting others around the office will only make your getting sick again that much more likely.
Get Some Fresh Air
Crack a window in your home. The fresh air keeps the viral particles moving so you don’t reinfect yourself or put others at higher risk.
You probably already know that antibiotics have no effect on colds and flus, which are viral diseases. Worse yet, they can destroy good bacteria in your body that fights off other infections and helps you digest food.
Studies have shown that low-calorie dieting with the flu makes it harder to recover. Eat normally for now, and pick up the diet again only when you’re 100-percent better.
Avoid Food Sharing
Don’t share dips or glasses during flu season. You may already be infected, after all, so keep everything to yourself by using separate plates and beverage containers.
The live cultures in yogurt that stave off the flu can also help you recover more quickly if you already have it. Research has also shown that yogurt cultures helps those with cold and flu symptoms recover two days faster and reduces the severity of their symptoms by 34 percent.
Irrigate Your Nose
Use a neti pot or nasal irrigator to help wash out the viral particles you inhale during the day and stop them from turning into a bad case of the flu. Better yet, make it part of your nightly routine at the beginning of every flu season.
Gargle Some Salt Water
It’s not just an old wives tale: salt destroys pathogens. By the same token, a cup of warm water mixed with a half-teaspoon of salt loosens mucus and flushes out germs. This ritual also reduces your symptoms if you already have the flu.
A spoonful of honey is hailed by many experts as being incredibly antimicrobial, and it also soothes the sore throat that often accompanies other flu symptoms.
Stock Up on Chicken Soup
Not only does the steam that comes off of hot chicken soup open your nasal passages and make it easier to breathe, but the soup itself also slows the movement of white blood cells and allows them to go to parts of your body that need healing the most.
Breathe In Essential Oils
Breathing in boiling water infused with thyme or eucalyptus oil will clear your nasal passages unlike anything else. It’s also believed that this practice coats the mucous membranes with antimicrobial particles that fight off reinfection.
Wipe down all the surfaces you come into frequent contact with like doorknobs and counters, and habitually wash your hands with soap. This prevents you from reinfecting yourself or spreading the flu to others.
Drink Plenty of Liquids
Again, this is not an urban legend. The simple fact is that fluids make the mucus that’s clogging your nose and chest thinner and easier to expel from your system. The good news is that the liquids can be anything you like, both hot and cold.
Eat Spicy Foods
The capsaicin in hot chili peppers and other fiery spices alleviates congestion almost instantly. Your nose will run and your eyes will water, but you’ll breathe easier, at least for a while. Just keep ordering that takeout curry.
Suck on Zinc Lozenges
Zinc is an essential mineral that keeps your immune system in tip-top condition. Research trials have revealed that ingesting zinc at the first hint of a cold or flu (within 24 hours) greatly reduces the length of the sickness. 75 milligrams a day is the suggested daily dose.
While you might just feel like rolling up in a ball and burying yourself in a comforter, you’ll feel a lot better if you prop yourself up into a sitting position. A 45-degree angle reduces nose and sinus inflammation because it helps the blood flow away from your head.
If a sore throat is part of your flu ordeal, suck on a Popsicle to numb the area and give yourself some temporary relief.
Become a Hermit
Socializing can hurt during flu season. The more people you encounter, the higher your chances of getting the bug. If you really, really want to make sure you stay healthy during the holidays, consider holing up at home and catching up on some reading or movie watching.
Moisten the Air
Not only does dry air intensify flu symptoms like coughs and sore throats, it’s also been found to give viruses a good environment to live in. A simple humidifier will help you feel better and may even kill viruses hanging in the air.
Skip the Heavy-Duty Workout
Light exercise often helps lessen flu symptoms, but don’t go for the heavy workouts that really make you sweat. Just take an invigorating walk or do some stretching exercises and use the remaining energy to fight off whatever’s ailing you.