This season, you may get the flu.
It's that time of year and despite your best efforts, it happens. If it does, you’ll want to be prepared with the best home remedies for flu and cough. In doing so, you can ease your symptoms and stay more comfortable.
And if you have had the flu, you know how miserable it can be.
Flu symptoms range from aches, chills, fever, nasal congestion, cough, and fatigue.
While the flu shot can make symptoms more mild — as can prescribed antiviral drugs like Tamiflu — luckily rest and home remedies are all most people need for a mild flu case.
For those who are open to trying whatever helps the flu, this post is for you!
When to See Your Doctor About the Flu
Most people get through the flu with no problems.
With proper rest, in about one-to two-weeks, you should be back on your feet. Most people don’t need to see a doctor.
But, if you have any serious health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, connect with your doctor right away if you’re exhibiting flu-like symptoms. They’ll be able to prescribe an effective and often fast-acting antiviral medication to reduce the severity of the flu.
Additionally, if you have any of the following symptoms, head to the ER:
- Bluish lips
- Severe chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent vomiting
- Severe neck stiffness
You may want to see your doctor or schedule a telehealth visit if your symptoms last longer than two weeks, your cough won’t go away, your fever suddenly worsens, or you have pain in a specific area, like your sinuses.
If you’re suffering from a mild case, you can give the below home remedies for flu and cough to try to get more comfortable.
You know it’s important to drink enough water on a daily basis, but when you’re sick, it’s even more essential. When you stay hydrated, you replace the fluids lost while loosening up thick mucus. It also helps to relieve congestion, which can be one of the most aggravating flu symptoms. If you have a loss of appetite, it’s especially important to drink up.
Extra home remedy flu tip: Skip alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Both will further dehydrate you. Opt instead for hot lemon and honey water, plain water, coconut water, and broths.
Take Steamy Showers
When you’re feeling achy and stuffy, a hot and steamy shower can help temporarily ease your issues. Moist air can alleviate nasal pain and the warm water can help sore muscles. If you’re lightheaded or dizzy, sit outside the shower in a chair and breathe in the steam. Never shower when you’re feeling unsteady on your feet.
Extra home remedy flu tip: Order eucalyptus leaves to put in your shower and breathe in the aroma, which is known to clear nasal congestion.
Battling a sore throat? Gargle warm salt water to alleviate sore throat pains and coughing fits. It’s a simple remedy that’s natural and you likely already have salt in your kitchen cupboard. Simply warm a mug of water in the microwave and mix a half teaspoon of salt into it until dissolved. Saltwater minimizes mucus that lines the back of the throat and causes the tickling sensation and coughing fits.
Extra home remedy flu tip: Try doing this every few hours to nix the irritating feeling of post-nasal drip.
Flush Out Nasal Passages
Nasal irrigation products can be helpful when it comes to nixing the annoyance of congestion and post-nasal drip. You can purchase sinus rinse kits (often called neti pots) in pharmacies and natural health food stores. It’s a warm saline water solution that you mix up and gently squeeze into your nose to clear out mucus. It helps you to breathe easier and potentially eliminates a sinus infection, too. It’s not the most pleasant natural remedy, but it works.
Extra home remedy flu tip: If your congestion is making it difficult to sleep, plug-in a humidifier next to your bed. This will help alleviate stuffiness. You can also buy nose strips like Breathe Right to open your nasal passages and make it easier to breathe.
Let Someone Else Do the Heavy Lifting
This goes for all the household chores and your daily duties. If you have a spouse, roommate, or friend you live with, ask for their help with keeping household duties up while you recover. This means skipping chores that require a lot of energy like laundry, cooking, sweeping, etc. Skip going out to the grocery store and have your food delivered to your doorstep instead. Spend your downtime recovering and resting in bed.
Extra home remedy flu tip: Have your favorite restaurants deliver your meals straight to your doorstep. Just skip anything fried or hard foods. You can check out our lists of The Best Food and Drink for the Flu here!
Stay Home to Rest
Last but not least, stay home and rest. Your body needs time to heal and it can’t do that if you’re running errands or staying up all night. Going to the gym or for a run likely isn’t the best idea, either, as it will drain your energy. Grab your favorite novel, watch a little television, and relax. Catch up on sleep and allow your body to give your immune system what it needs to fight off the flu and its unwelcome symptoms.
Extra home remedy flu tip: Sleep when you’re tired. Get a good night’s sleep and take power naps as needed throughout the day. When you sleep, your body produces certain cytokines to help battle infections like the flu.
Try Home Remedies for Flu and Cough This Season
For most people, a flu case is mild and more inconvenient than anything.
With the above at-home remedies for flu and cough, you should be feeling much better in about a week. Just know it’s normal to feel easily fatigued even a few weeks after you’ve had the flu as your body continues to recover. It’s best to continue to enhance your immune system and rest when you feel weak.
For all individuals, it’s essential to stay home and recover. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness — much like COVID-19 — that requires rest, hydration, and sometimes medication.
This post — along with our COVID-19 Digital Care Package — are great resources for employers to save to send out to sick teammates. Not only will the information help them, but it will cheer them up knowing you truly care about their well-being.
Want more content about the flu? Check out these two resources: The 6 Benefits of Flu Shots Everyone Should Consider and How to Host a Successful Flu Shot Clinic.