While there’s no real cure for a common cold or ‘flu, that doesn’t mean we have to take it lying down. There are plenty of medications and strategies out there to help us win the battle:
Ways to Make the Flu Go Away Faster
- Stay Hydrated
- Self-Medicate Safely
- Consider Natural Remedies
- Get Plenty of Rest
#1 – Stay Hydrated
When you don’t feel like doing much other than lying in bed and contemplating the end of the world, it’s tough to remember to keep up your fluid intake.
Staying hydrated is, however, a vital part of recovering from a cold or the ‘flu. You don’t have to get fancy with drinks since plain old water is plenty good enough. It helps to thin mucus secretions in the nasal passages or lungs and ease sore, scratchy throats.
Some people might tell you to drink orange juice for vitamin C, but there’s no scientific proof that this helps in a cure. It won’t hurt, but it probably won’t benefit you more than water providing your vitamin C levels are healthy to start with.
Hot drinks are also comforting, but avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea or coffee as they have diuretic properties and can actually lead to dehydration.
Another way to stay hydrated is to spend some time in humid conditions, such as a steam bath or through the use of a vaporizer. The warm, wet air soothes dry tissues in the nose and throat, easing coughs and making you feel less miserable.
#2 – Self-Medicate Safely
We all turn to medicines when we’re under the weather to ease aches and pains. Knowing which ones to take for which symptom helps you take medicines safely.
If you have muscle pains or headaches, often a sign that you have ‘flu rather than a simple head cold, pain relievers that may help include acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), naproxen (Aleve) and aspirin. If you’re treating a child or teen under 18, avoid aspirin as this can sometimes cause Reye’s Syndrome.
For dry coughs (those that don’t produce mucus), take a cough suppressant such as Robitussin. This works by inhibiting the cough reflex.
A stuffy nose is one of a cold’s worst miseries. When you can’t breathe properly, nothing else seems to matter. Decongestants can work wonders to unblock stuffed-up air passages, so look for Sudafed or DayQuil.
If you have ‘flu, taking antibiotics won’t help, although your doctor may prescribe them if you have additional bacterial infections.
How to tell the difference between a cold and ‘flu? Colds cause runny and stuffy noses, sore throats, and sneezing. ‘Flu can cause all those things too but tends to come on faster and brings muscle or joint aches, fatigue, fever, and chills along with it. See your doctor, who may prescribe something like Tamiflu.
#3 – Consider Natural Remedies
Taking zinc supplements may help you fight off the cold and ‘flu symptoms faster. Zinc helps the body produce the necessary white blood cells that fight off infection, but only if you carefully regulate how much you take. Overdosing can actually lead to a drop in immunity, so make sure you’re not taking more than 50mg a day. Another natural remedy with similar properties is Ginseng.
In some instances, mother really does know best so, when she offers you a bowl of chicken soup, don’t turn up your blocked nose at it. Cooking chicken releases the amino acid Cysteine, which is similar to a drug used to treat bronchitis. Chicken soup is also good for thinning mucus, making it easier to get rid of.
#4 – Get Plenty of Rest
The body works hard to fight off colds and ‘flu viruses. To win the battle faster, it needs time for rest and recuperation. If you work, call in sick and take a couple of days to recover. As well as helping yourself get better faster, you’re also preventing the spread of infection to coworkers and colleagues. Flu viruses are easily spread in coughs and sneezes, expelling over 19,000 from a single sneeze.
Once you’re better, reduce your chances of getting sick again through constant, thorough, hand washing. Hand sanitizers work just as well if you can’t get to soap and water on a regular basis.
Are colds and flu ever serious? Sometimes complications can set in and these include:
- A phlegmy cough that doesn’t get better
- Shaking chills
- Shortness of breath even from normal activities
- Can’t keep down drink or food
- Blood in mucus or phlegm
- Fever above 101.5F
Mostly, colds and ‘flu run their course in a week or so without any extra help from us. Self-medicate wisely, wrap up, keep warm, get plenty of rest, and while you may feel like it’s the end, you’ll recover just fine without complications.