It is unfortunately the flu and common cold season again. The exiting summer has left us with fatigue and body aches and the approaching winter has brought fever, coughs and sore throats. It is a time of the year that knocks even the healthiest individuals off their feet. Of course, the best thing to do when you have the flu or cold is to visit a doctor and take proper medication. But there are some things we can do at home too to take care of ourselves and/or our family members who may have fallen sick due to the “changing weather.”
The most helpful thing to do is rest. We must give our body the rest it needs if we want to recover from the flu or common cold quickly. Not that we can do much anyway. The flu often comes with a wave of fatigue that makes even the smallest tasks feel exhausting. We must not try to fight this exhaustion but instead take it as a cue to slow down. As there is no better way to rest than to sleep, let us opt for naps.
Along with rest, hydration is also important for recovery. High fever, and the subsequent sweating, dehydrates our body. So, it is essential that we drink plenty of fluids. Hot water, herbal teas, and soups and broths can keep us hydrated and help soothe our throat if it is sore.
Another thing we must do is to eat. This is easier said than done as flu suppresses the appetite and may even cause vomiting. But it is crucial that we eat because we need to nourish our bodies.
Liquids may be easier to swallow than solids so we can focus on soups. Chicken soup, in particular, has been a longstanding remedy for flu and cold because, as per BBC Good Food, it helps reduce the stuffy feeling in the nose and throat and minimises inflammation in the upper respiratory tract.
Like chicken soup, honey has also been recognised for its soothing properties and can be added to hot water or tea to ease a hurting throat. Ginger tea is also a great home remedy for flu or cold. Inhaling steam can help alleviate symptoms too. There are a host of home remedies that we can try that are quite effective against these two diseases.
Basking in the sun is another remedy that our parents and grandparents always advocate. It may just be the placebo effect, but the scribe has found that sunlight helps lessen the body ache that flu brings. It also gives us Vitamin D which builds immunity.
Gargling with salt water multiple times a day is also presented as a good way to cure sore throats. Likewise, using humidifiers can relieve nasal congestion and ease breathing. Warm showers can have a similar effect. The trick is to add moisture to the air. However, we should be careful when using commercial sprays and inhalers as they may not suit all of us. And prolonged use can lead to rebound congestion. If we have to use “medicine,” including nasal drops, it is best to do so only after consulting a doctor. Drugging oneself based on “personal expertise” is never a good idea.
Moreover, we must listen to our bodies. As has been mentioned earlier in this article, we must give our body rest if it needs it. Everybody has a different body that reacts to diseases and medication differently. A flu or a cold may be a mild nuisance for some while leaving others bedridden. We must give ourselves the care we need. Our healthcare provider is the best source of information and guidance and is the best entity to be consulted for devising a self-care regimen.
Lastly, we must be responsible. Both the flu and the cold are contagious and we must not be the source of infection for others. If we have the flu or the cold, it is best to stay home from work or school until at least the fever has subsided (The added benefit is that it will also give us time to rest).
We should avoid close contact with others and, if possible, it would be good to separate a room for the patient only. This is especially pertinent if we suspect we may have something other than the flu (COVID-19).
We must also practise good respiratory hygiene, i.e., covering our mouth and nose when we cough or sneeze. We should wash used handkerchiefs and dry them in sunlight, and also wash our hands regularly to prevent the disease from spreading.
To sum up, recovering from the flu or the cold requires a combination of rest, hydration and nutrition. We must prioritise self-care when sick and let our bodies heal at their own pace.