8 Tips to treat your cold and flu symptoms

We’re almost passed the winter cold, but colds and flu symptoms are not staying away!

As we near the end of winter, and what feels like the coldest few weeks of the year, we are still seeing an increasing amount of colds and flu cases. Faircape Health‘s pharmacists are here to help and have given their top tips to treat colds and flu (along with your prescribed medication), and it’s easier than you think!

Man blowing nose
Blow your nose often – it makes the world of difference!

8 tips to treat your symptoms

1. Blow your nose often

In order to prevent mucus buildup, it’s important to blow your nose regularly when you have a cold rather than sniffling the mucus.

2. Rest, rest and more rest!

Resting during a cold or the flu helps your body direct its energy toward assisting the immune system.

3. Gargle for temporary relief

Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water, four times daily.

To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle such as tea that contains tannin. Or steep one tablespoon of lemon juice in two cups of hot water and mix in one teaspoon of honey. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling. 

4. Drink warm liquids

Warm liquids help relieve nasal congestion and prevent dehydration. Some tea, like chamomile, help soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat. Add some honey to soothe the airways, it has both antiviral and antibacterial properties. Honey is a natural miracle-worker!

Drink warm liquids
Honey is a natural miracle worker!

5. Try lozenges to soothe your throat

Look for lozenges that contain Echinacea or elderberry extract, zinc, and vitamin C.

Aloe helps soothe and reduce irritation of the nose and throat.

For treating colds, mint teas are often used. Mint oils and peppermint oil (mostly made of menthol) can also be used as rubs.

6. Take a steamy shower

Steamy showers moisturise your nasal passages, relieve the dizziness caused by congestion and help you relax!

7. Apply hot or cold packs around congested sinuses

Hot and cold temperatures may help relieve discomfort. Take a damp washcloth and heat it for 20 seconds in a microwave (test the temperature first to make sure it’s not too hot) or take a small bag of frozen peas to use as a cold pack.

8. Sleep with an extra pillow under your head

This will help with the drainage of nasal passages!

To ease the discomfort from specific cold and flu symptoms, consider using the following types of over-the-counter medicines: 

To reduce fever and pain take analgesics such as Paracetamol or Aspirin. Please read all cold medicine package labels and do not take more than one drug containing Paracetamol at a time. Paracetamol doses should not exceed four grams per day as too much Paracetamol can damage your liver. 

To dry out the nose use antihistamines such as Chlorpheniramine. Please note that these products can make you drowsy, therefore you should avoid driving and other complex tasks while taking these medicines. Loratadine or Cetirizine are non-drowsy alternatives, but may not be as effective as other antihistamines for reducing cold and flu symptoms.

To relieve a stuffy, clogged nose try decongestants such as an oral decongestant like pseudoephedrine. Please note that decongestants may cause insomnia, nervousness and irritability. Those who are pregnant or have uncontrolled high blood pressure should avoid pseudoephedrine products. Often decongestants are combined with other drugs (especially antihistamines) in OTC medicines.

To relieve a runny nose or sinus pressure use nasal steroids like fluticasone or mometasone. These medicines are also used for seasonal allergies. Antihistamines will also help.

To make blowing your nose easier or to loosen cough/mucus production try expectorants/mucolytics such as Acetylcysteine. These products help thin the thick, discoloured drainage mucus in the nose and mouth.

To reduce coughing try antitussives like dextromethorphan to help suppress cough.

To relieve a sore throat try throat lozenges or gargle with warm salt water a few times a day. Analgesics are also helpful.

The end of winter is in sight

Autumn walk

In a few short weeks Spring will be upon us. Winter, colds and flu will be a distant memory.

For now, take care. Tokai Health Pharmacy is here to see you through the last of the flu season!

Sources used to compile this article: WebMD, Cleveland Clinic

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