5 Best Home Remedies for Colds and Flu

Tried and true ways to get relief when you don't feel well

If you’re sick, build your body’s defenses back up—in bed. In fact, bed is one of the best places that will help you ward off illness in the first place. One study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that participants who got less than seven hours of sleep a night were about three times more likely to develop cold symptoms than those who got at least eight hours of sleep.

1. Sip Hot Liquids
Some liquids can help prevent dehydration and ease congestion, but hot drinks do a better job than room-temperature drinks at relieving such cold and flu symptoms as a sore throat, according to the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University in the U.K. So besides drinking plenty of water, sip some hot tea or hot water with lemon and honey. And of course, nothing tastes better than Grandma’s chicken soup when you’re sick. Chicken soup has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help ease the passage of mucus through the nose.

2. Swallow a Spoonful of Honey
If your child is having trouble sleeping through the night because of a cough, try giving them a teaspoon of honey. Research published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine suggests that giving honey before bedtime may help calm children’s coughs by soothing and coating the throat. Just don’t give it to children under age 1 because of the risk of botulism.

3. Gargle with Salt Water
Gargling with warm salt water really can help ease a sore throat and make you feel better, experts say. Dissolve a half of a teaspoon of salt in an 8 ounce glass of warm water. You can gargle every 3 to 4 hours for temporary relief.

4. Irrigate Your Nose
Use nasal saline drops to fight a stuffy nose and keep the nasal tissues moist. These are safe and non-irritating for kids as well. A study by Czech researchers found that children who used a saline nasal wash in addition to cough and cold medicine missed fewer days of school and had less cold and flu symptoms than those who received only medicine. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that nasal wash with salt water can also improve allergy symptoms.

5. Humidify Your Home
Cold and influenza viruses are more likely to survive—and thrive—in dry conditions. Using a cool-mist humidifier can combat the dry indoor air that can lead to a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. Keep the humidifier free of bacteria or mold by changing the water daily and cleaning the unit every three days.

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