Do you need to treat the symptoms?
Cold and flu symptoms cause discomfort – but they are part of the body’s natural healing process. Fever is the body’s defence mechanism to try to kill a virus with heat – and blood circulates quicker helping with healing. So, having a fever may mean a cold doesn’t last as long.
Coughing is the body’s way of trying to clear out thick mucus.
Decongestants restrict blood flow in the nose and throat’s blood vessels – but increased blood flow helps with the process of getting better.
Nose blowing – the right way
Blowing your nose often with a cold is a good thing to get mucus out – but blowing too hard can push phlegm, and the germs it carries, into the tubes of the ears. This can cause ear problems. Try blowing your nose a nostril at a time by closing the other nostril with a finger and blowing gently into a tissue.
Salt water (saline) nose rinsing
A salt water rinse for the nose – saline nasal rinse – is an effective way to ease nasal congestion and also helps clear out viruses and bacteria from the nose.
Solutions can be bought ready made from pharmacies – or mixed up at home. Allow a pint of boiled water to cool down until it is warm. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt and rinse into the nose.
You can get special devices to do this, such as bulb syringes, or it can be done from a clean, cupped hand.
Breathing in steam safely is another popular natural remedy for congestion – but research suggests rinsing beats steaming.
Rest and stay warm
Fighting a cold or flu saps your energy – so take some rest and stay warm while the body’s immune system does its work. This doesn’t mean you are giving in to colds or flu – but just doing what is natural.
A salt water gargle can help ease a sore throat – again mix up the solution with a teaspoon of salt dissolved into a pint of previously boiled water that’s been allowed to cool.
Having warming drinks helps relieve stuffiness and helps soothe the nose and throat. Some cold and flu remedies are made with boiled water – but a nice cup of tea may also make you feel a bit better.