Ah, there’s nothing quite like being coped up in the house nursing the flu. All that sniffling, sneezing, coughing and who-knows-what-else is enough to drive many up the wall. Although there is no cure for the flu, take heart as it clears up relatively quickly; recovery typically takes three to 10 days. But while there is nothing you can do to kill the bug off, you can make yourself feel better – and prevent flu-related complications like pneumonia – by easing your symptoms.
Here are some tips you can try out to soothe your sniffles and cough.
Make it steamy
You may be used to cold showers (we live in humid Malaysia, after all) but if you have the flu, do opt for warm showers instead. Steam from a warm shower helps moistens the mucus in your nasal passages and opens up your airways – making breathing easier.
Additionally, you can fill your bathroom sink with hot water and lean over it to breathe in the steam. Try adding a teaspoon of menthol rub, several drops of eucalyptus oil or chopped ginger to the water for better effect. If you find this tedious, placing a warm, moist washcloth on your sinuses can also do the trick.
A stuffed nose is practically part and parcel of a flu infection. To unclog your nasal passages, try a decongestant spray. But remember, only use it for three days or you will be in for more congestion.
You may feel exasperated that you are stuck at home with the flu when you have a million and one things on your to-do list. But going out and about will only worsen your condition. Take the opportunity to catch up on lost sleep. Speaking of sleep, make sure you adhere to a fixed sleep schedule. Research shows that people without sufficient sleep are at a higher risk of falling ill after being exposed to a virus. Inadequate rest also impacts your recovery time.
Chicken soup for the flu
You have heard of Chicken Soup for the Soul but this applies for your flu too! A study in the American Journal of Therapeutics reported that carnosine, a compound present in chicken soup can aid our immune system in fighting off the flu in its initial stages. Another study featured in Chest discovered that chicken soup has mild anti-inflammatory effects on upper respiratory tract infection symptoms. So, your mother was right, after all!
Hack that cough
Coughing can take a toll on you so don’t ignore it, hoping that it will disappear on its own. Over-the-counter cough suppressants can calm your cough while expectorants can help you cough up excess phlegm. Your pharmacist will be able to recommend the cough medicine which suits you best. Cough meds aside, rubbing menthol salve on your throat and chest can also soothe coughing.
Daily News. Available at www.nydailynews.com
Prevention. Available at www.prevention.com
Rennard BO, et al. (2000). Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest; 118(4): 1150-7.
WebMD. Available at www.webmd.com