Did you know the flu vaccine is getting less effective every year? In fact, this effectiveness, or ineffectiveness rather, may be hovering right around 5%. Those aren’t great odds. Take matters into your own hands by doing everything you can to prevent yourself from getting sick, and if you do come down with something, follow my top tips for treating the flu from home. You are in control of your health.
Treating Flu Symptoms
Influenza, or the flu, is caused from a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system, including the nose, throat, lungs. These tissues become inflamed and swollen, causing uncomfortable and annoying symptoms. In most cases, the illness resolves on its own, without secondary complications.
This type of flu should not be confused with the stomach flu, which is viral as well, but is characterized by vomiting and diarrhea. Colds are also viral in nature, and share many of the same symptoms as the respiratory flu, these symptoms however, are milder and aren’t as likely to lead to serious complications. Symptoms of the flu include:
- Coughing and sneezing
- Body aches
- Fever, chills and cold sweats
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
The flu will make you feel downright miserable, but symptoms usually resolve on their own within a week or two. Unfortunately, fatigue may linger for several weeks. Although, you may be quite certain you are dying, in truth, most cases of the flu aren’t dangerous.
The influenza virus can weaken the immune system, leaving its victims vulnerable to more serious conditions, such as sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Ear infections can present in children following the flu.
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How To Prevent The Flu
Because the flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not a viable treatment, as antibiotics are only effective against bacteria. Your best course of action is to keep your immune system functioning at full throttle. A nutritious diet, consistent exercise, adequate sleep, appropriate supplementation, and managing your stress are all vital in keeping your immune system in optimal condition.
The flu is highly contagious. The virus can spread through airborne exposure, and is easily spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Protecting yourself is key. Unless you quarantine yourself from October to May, you can’t keep from being exposed to a virus at some point. Fortunately, there are strategies you can exercise that will lessen your chances of getting the flu.
1. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 15 seconds throughout the day. Although, the influenza virus is airborne, it’s more likely to be transmitted via touch.
2. Avoid being around people who are sick, and if you do become ill, stay home.
3. Always cover both your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
4. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
5. Moderate exercise boosts immune function for several hours afterwards. That’s why you need to do it consistently.
Treating The Flu From Home
Prevention goes a long way when it comes to warding off infections, but is obviously not fool proof. At some point, that nagging tickle in your throat, slight fever, and aching legs, may turn into a full-fledged case of the flu. What to do now?
The goal is to minimize your misery, as much as possible, and lessen the duration of the virus. Here are some tips to help you feel better when life isn’t looking so bright:
Take Time Off Work
Denial won’t accelerate your healing. Accept that you’re sick, and make the most of your down time. Work from home if possible. Use the time to rest and catch up on non-physical tasks you haven’t had time for.
At least, you’ll feel like you’re accomplishing something. Take it slow and easy, and forgo the temptation to get things done you really don’t have energy for.
Go Gluten, Dairy And Sugar Free
Sugar depresses the immune system, and together with gluten and dairy, is mucus producing. The last you need, when you’re sick, is more mucus. Ditch these three nasties from your diet, at least while you’re sick.
Your digestive system will be so relieved to not have to digest these inflammatory foods, you may never go back to your old way of eating. Gluten and pasteurized dairy are hard to digest, cause leaky gut, and increase inflammation. Three strikes they’re out!
I know this isn’t going to sound appetizing, but who cares, you’re sick and want to get better. Garlic is a super food, and has antiviral properties, making it a potent superfood for fighting the flu. Place a raw clove in your mouth, every few hours throughout the day, while you’re sick.
If one clove is too much, cut it in half. Let the clove sit in your mouth, without chewing it. This is especially effective during the night. You won’t even notice it when you’re asleep. When the clove starts to fall apart, take a sip of water, and swallow it.
Disinfect Your Toothbrush
While you are sick, disinfect your toothbrush, every day, in a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide. You probably have some in your medicine cabinet. Once you are well, toss your toothbrush, and replace it with a new one. At the very least, boil it so you don’t reinfect yourself.
Drink Organic Chicken Broth
Grandma was right. Sipping on chicken broth, or chicken soup, will make you feel better because it thins the mucus that makes breathing difficult. Broth is a great remedy for congestion, and will also ease the pain of a sore throat.
Carnosine is a compound found in chicken soup that boosts the immune system’s ability to fight viral infections. Liquids are easy on the digestive tract, freeing up vital energy for the immune system to do its job. You don’t have to make your own. Check this out!
Take Liposomal Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a superstar nutrient when it comes to fighting the flu. I like liposomal vitamin C. It’s inexpensive, easy to make, and goes directly to your cells, where it can exert its magic.
Oral vitamin C can upset the stomach, and cause diarrhea, whereas, liposomal C slides right through the cell membrane. It’s amazing stuff, and is great for immunity. It also neutralizes and eliminates toxins, and is a powerful antioxidant.
More vitamin C is needed in times of stress and sickness so supplementing with this essential vitamin, when you have the flu, just makes sense. Learn how to make it here. While you’re at it, pop 1,000 – 2,000 IUs of vitamin D a day to support your immune system.
Pico silver – my favorite brand – supports the structure and function of the immune system, and is effective against both viral and bacterial infections. It is a safe, natural remedy, that can be used as needed, because it doesn’t build up tolerance.
Pico silver is a fantastic alternative to traditional antibiotics, without the side effects, such as digestive disturbances, and yeast overgrowth. It can be used topically, as a spray, or sublingually as a tincture. Purchase pico silver here.
Use A Vaporizer Or Humifier
Vaporizers and humidifiers are handy devices to help combat coughs and congestion. They’re way more convenient than sitting in a hot shower. They add moisture and humidity to the air, making it easier to breathe by loosening congestion in the lungs.
Dry air is irritating to a sore throat and can exacerbate a cough. Some devices let you add various concoctions to them. I love menthol and camphor essential oils for opening up the sinuses. Vaporizers and humidifiers come in all shapes and sizes, and should be a staple in every household. Here’s a good one.
Epsom Salt Baths
Who doesn’t love a warm Epsom salt bath? It’s relaxing and comforting, and the magnesium will do wonders for your aches and pains. Magnesium baths hydrate, detoxify, and calm the nervous system. They also increase white blood cell count through the process of vasodilation, accelerating recovery.
You’ll sleep like a baby after your soak. Keep Epsom salts on hand, and use them when you feel flu-like symptoms coming on. They are available at your neighborhood market or drugstore. Grab Epsom salts here.
Homeopathic Flu Remedies
Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy for both colds and the flu. It should be taken at the first sign of distress. This is a safe remedy to have in your medicine cabinet as it is purported to be up to 70% effective against viral infections.
Compare that to the flu shot, which is less than 10% effective, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Oscillococcinum can be found at your local drugstore, or you can purchase it here.
Sip On Tea
There are a variety of herbs that can alleviate congestion, loosen mucus, and soothe a sore throat or hacking cough. Lobelia and mullein both decrease chest congestion, and can be used as a poultice for secondary infections, such a bronchitis and pneumonia. Take these herbs, in tea form, three or four times a day.
Fenugreek tea is great for loosening mucus. You can buy the dried herb, which is very inexpensive, and steep it in boiling water for five minutes.
Use sage tea to calm an annoying cough. Ginger tea is beneficial in treating headaches and symptoms associated with the flu and other viral infections.
It’s easy to make. Grate a couple of tablespoons of ginger, from fresh ginger root, and steep in boiling water for a few minutes. It’s also good for nausea and stomach upset. Buy fenugreek tea here.
A Spoonful Of Honey
Everyone knows honey is a great remedy for sore throats. But did you know it’s also a natural cough suppressant? It may even be more effective than dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in cough syrups.
Whip yourself up some lemon tea with a spoonful of honey, and see if it doesn’t make you feel better. DO NOT, however, give honey to babies under 12 months old due to the risk of infant botulism. Although rare, this form of food poisoning can be deadly.
Use An Herbal Poultice
Poultices are time-honored remedies for chest congestion and other ailments. Placing a ginger or onion compress on your chest will help you breathe easier, as it breaks up congestion in the lungs.
Chop up an onion and grate a quarter cup of ginger, then cook together in water until they are soft. Gently mash the mixture, and apply to your chest, covering the area with a small towel. Leave on until cooled and repeat.
Oh, I mean mineral. I just like the sound of “Vitamin Zinc.” Zinc is important for optimal immune function, which is your best bet in fighting an infection. A zinc deficiency may increase your chances of catching a cold or the flu.
White blood cells are dependent on zinc to function properly. Taking zinc may even decrease the duration of a cold by up to 50%. I like taking zinc in lozenge form. They are soothing to a sore throat, and they taste good. This is a good brand.
Echinacea is an herbal antibiotic that can be used in tablet form, as a tincture, or sipped as a tea throughout the day. I like to take echinacea as a tincture. The tea doesn’t taste that great. Echinacea contains compounds that exert a beneficial effect on the immune system.
It is widely available, affordable, and has a significant antiviral effect. Herbal antibiotics don’t run the risk of antibiotic resistance, which is an issue that is becoming more prevalent.
Oregano oil is another antimicrobial compound worth considering when you have the flu or a cold. It is an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiseptic. How’s that for a lineup?! It can also be used preventatively.
This therapeutic oil has been used for centuries with much success. Oregano oil is unique because it can treat both the cause of the illness, and the symptoms. If you’ve ever used it, you know how potent it is. It can be used topically, orally, sublingually, or inhaled. Buy echinacea here.
The influenza virus can take you down. There’s no doubt about it. Prevent yourself from getting sick, the best you can, by keeping your immune system in tip top condition. If you do get sick, use the time off to catch up on tasks that don’t require a lot of energy.
Rest as much as you can. Eliminate gluten, dairy, and sugar from your diet. Sip on tea throughout the day, take hot baths, and don’t forget to disinfect your toothbrush. Take heart – you will get better!
Can you share any additional tips for making the flu more tolerable? Let me know in the comments:)