The unwelcome buzzing of the influenza bug is always a concern during Michigan winters. While there are many ways to try and stave off the flu, sometimes sickness just happens. If you determine you have a cold or flu and not COVID-19, these facts about home remedies can help.
Growing up, you were probably exposed to a few different home remedies for cold and flu symptoms. While some may have been successful, others might not have been. That’s why we want to keep you in the know on what household remedies will help you bounce back faster from a bad cold or the flu, and which ones may not be helpful at all.
Fact: Chicken noodle soup
Nutrition is an essential part of recovering from the flu, and this favorite sick day meal from your childhood is an important aid. It turns out that each component of this household soup staple functions in its own healing way. The warm broth acts as a nasal decongestant, while also giving the body extra fluids. Vegetables in soup—often carrots, celery or onion—can help pump up the immune system and fight off any further viruses that your body can be prone to while recovering. Lastly, the chicken is an important source of protein—adding extra blocks to that immune system wall. Keep this classic recipe close the next time you feel a chill coming on. Try this healthier version with low-sodium broth, plenty of veggies and whole wheat egg noodles. If chicken noodle isn’t your favorite, but soup still sounds good, consider one of these other healthy soup options.
Faux: Orange juice
One thing you may have been told to consume in tandem with a hearty bowl of soup when you’re sick is a glass of orange juice. And why not? Oranges are a good source of vitamin C, and the drink itself is usually pretty easy going down. What you may not know, though, is that orange juice contains added sugars, something you should avoid when your body is recovering from sickness. One whole glass of OJ contains 36 grams of carbohydrates, equating to about nine teaspoons of sugar—nearly as much as a glass of soda. Give your immune system a break and stick with some fresh, cold water (aim for about half of your body weight in ounces each day as a general best practice) or warm tea.
You can often find a humidifier around your house that helps flush out stuffy air. In the case of the flu, humidifiers can often freshen up your breathing and make sleeping more bearable. But did you know that using a humidifier around the house can actually prevent flu germs from even impacting you and your loved ones? Studies have shown that the flu virus tends to have a shortened presence in a household if a 40-60% relative humidity, eliminating the traces from areas like sinks, door handles and countertops.
Faux: Laying flat
When you have the flu or a bad cold, your body is nearly depleted of energy, and all you want to do is lie down and sleep. Naturally, you’ll just lay flat wherever you can, right? Not so fast. Laying flat while your body is fighting flu symptoms can make it harder on your lungs, making sleep more uncomfortable. Soothe your sleep by propping your head up, allowing your nasal passages to open and relieve any breathing issues or congestion.
Sometimes, fighting sickness requires a little extra sweetness. Experts suggest that a couple teaspoons of honey can help relieve any lingering coughs better than certain over-the-counter medications. Whether you drink the honey straight from the bottle or mix it with some warm water or herbal tea, a little honey can help scratch that itch in your throat.
Faux: Certain cough medications
It’s important to know that cough medicine is always an option when dealing with cold and flu symptoms, however, be aware that certain over-the-counter medications can have side effects. Most notably, cold and flu medications—including anti-inflammatories and decongestants—have been linked to cardiovascular complications. While these types of medications can be beneficial regarding certain severe symptoms, make sure you use them as directed and are aware of their potential side effects. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor or other health care provider if you have any concerns or questions.
For more ways to beat the bug this season if the flu does come your way, check out these additional tips for what to do if you get the flu. And remember, getting your flu shot, washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces are things you can do every day to keep the flu at bay.