Cough and Colds are the most common upper respiratory health problems that my family, mostly my kids, and I suffer the whole year through. For us living in the Middle East, this typically happens during a change of season from the enervating hot temperature on summer months to nerve-freezing coldness in winter times. But that doesn’t mean the weather does cause cold. Instead they arrive from other people. It spreads more often in colder months when all of us just congregate at home making the transmission of the virus easier. While in summer months, we love to go outdoors where we encounter people sneezing, coughing or shaking the hand of our friends we meet along the way.
Cough and Colds are infections that come hand in hand. According to a study, viruses cause colds and eventually develop to cough. My colds started from runny nose then sneezing until I have sore throat then nasal congestion. This is because my body reacts to the virus and my immune system increases mucus secretions. Once the virus got into my lungs, they produce fluid and mucus also. So after a day or two, my cough appears making me hard to breath (especially that i am asthmatic) and results to headache. If these symptoms are not treated right away, I will be ill with fever and experience muscle pain thus making me really sick and immobile for a week. Much more, the mucus thickens and changes color with dead cells and viola! There goes the type of pus I really hate most, the phlegm..Yayyks!!
So to prevent myself from getting into too much trouble, I have tried these simple remedies at home to help me feel more comfortable and help my body heal itself as quickly as possible. They are all natural, safe, and effective therapy to make my symptoms a bit bearable and breather a little easier.
1. Vaporize with Steam Inhaler
Currently, we don’t have humidifier at home because we don’t felt the necessity of it. Instead, we bought a portable steam inhaler from a local hypermarket. The steam from a vaporizer relieves inflammation and upper respiratory congestion by loosening secretions and reducing mucus levels. I am relieved in only 6-9 minutes of treatment time!
Another alternative to a steam vaporizer is to boil cups of water and place it in a large bowl. For maximum efficacy, place eucalyptus or peppermint oil and drape a towel over your head; this allows you to reap the total steamy air. Close your eyes and relax as you breathe the steam in about 10 to 15 minutes. You can gently sneeze out the build-up mucus and resume the breathing. Believe me. Your muscles relax, then coughing and throat irritation will eventually subside.
2. Body bath / facial spa with Eucalyptus Oil
Sometimes I felt a need to take a shower and freshen up myself, so I take this chance to relieve my chest and nasal congestion. I run a hot water shower with the door shut, allowing steam to fill in the room. I stay in the room for 5 to 10 minutes while breathing in the moist steamy air that provide a little relief.
Another way is to use warm compresses on your face. Gather a face towel and a bowl of hot water. Soak the towel and squeeze out excess water. Place the wet warm towel on your face to relieve discomfort and open your nasal passages.
3. Nasal decongestion/ Gargle with Saline Solution
I also prepare a saline solution that rinsed and moisturized the nasal passages. I simply mix water with a teaspoon of salt and place in a spray bottle or use medicine dropper. The saline spray has no side effects and a natural remedy to soothe symptoms caused by rhinovirus.
Sore throat normally comes along with cough and colds. To ease the pain, I also gargle with saline solution many times a day.
4. Body Massage with menthol liniment
When battling with colds, I normally have muscles pain too. Sometimes I can’t do it myself that i ask help from my husband to give me a quick and soothing massage on painful body areas. He applies menthol cream or eucalyptus oil and tenderly press the area in a downward motion.
For a nighttime cough, concentrate on the chest and back area. I also favor Vicks Vapor Rub on the soles of my feet and covered with socks throughout the night.
5. Cleansing with Herbs and Tea
At the first sign of cough and colds, I support and stimulate my body’s immune system. Herbal medicines such as echinacea, goldenseal, licorice root, barberry, chamomile, eucalyptus to name the few are very helpful alternatives. These usually come in the form of herbal teas that are sold in many grocery stores, pharmacies, and health food stores. The herbs help produce extra white blood cells that can destroy the intruding virus.
Stack box of herbal teas for convenience. Then dip and sip the warm water to decongest your nose, soothe your sore throat, and calm your mind. But ask your doctor before using any herbal remedies because they may not be safe for those who are pregnant or have certain medical conditions.
6. Fluid Replacement with lemonade
I make it to a point to consume more fluids when colds attack because increase fluid intake can certainly alleviate symptoms and speed recovery time. It also prevents dehydration because your body uses more fluids against fever and mucus production. It relieves muscle pains when your electrolyte levels drop. The best fluids include water, juices, and warm lemon water with honey. But I prefer the later for double good effect. Not just it hydrates me but lemon contains Vitamin C known to boost immune system and the honey that soothe the throat.
I mix honey and lemon into warm water or sometimes add eucalyptus leaves to make a mint julep. Sipping it can coat my throat and decrease mucus secretion. You can also give this lemonade therapy to your child only if he/she is over the age of 1. You must also avoid liquids containing alcohol or carbonated and caffeinated drinks as these can increase the severity of symptoms.
7. Take more rest with sleeping
I am a kind of person that once get sick will really become very weak and stock-still. So to avoid stressing myself too much and gain my strength rapidly, I free myself from any form of physical activities and catch more sleep. I also to stay away from work so as not to spread colds around the office.
While resting, I lie on a couple of pillows to keep my head elevated and making breathing more comfortable. Above all, sleeping is a natural way to help my body heal by itself by producing extra protein molecules that strengthen my ability to fight infection and hasten my recovery.
8. Stay indoor and keep warm
Taking a rest will literary mean staying at home where I feel more comfortable and keep covered at times when I develop fever. Knowing that I will not feel guilty of infecting others with my virus, I’d rather isolate myself and rest. What’s more relaxing than simply reading a good book, watching TV, and taking naps in between that stressing my body any further. Does it?
9. Load your diet with fruits and vegetables
I love eating fruits and vegetables especially when they are fresh and raw. I prefer melons, berries, legumes, and bell peppers. These immunity-boosting foodies are loaded with vitamin C that acts as a mild natural antihistamine while also supporting the function of white blood cells. Antihistamines reduce mucus secretion and inflammation in airways and sinuses, making it easier for you to breathe. So eat plenty of them to get make you healthy but keep the glow in you.
10. Regain your strength with warm (chicken) soup
It is an old wives tale that chicken soup is a cure-all for common diseases. However, a plain truth for that matter, scientists have back up the medicinal benefits for this tasty tradition. The warm moisture in the soup can act as an anti-inflammatory and soothe the mucus membranes that cause clog nose providing a temporary relief from the congestion. It speeds up mucus movement thus eliminating the virus remains in the lining of our nose. Whenever, I can’t make a soup on my own I lovingly ask my husband to cook his own chicken soup recipe for me, that is surely better tasting and yummier than the I one prepare.
Keep in mind that the tips above are highly beneficial for you as well as they are for me. These home remedies are very easy to do and prepare, all natural and effective to say the least. But the best thing of all is prevention. So keep away from places where people normally congregate and hang out such as malls, parks, and groceries especially in times when cough and cold are epidemic. Keep your environment moisturized by opening your windows to allow breeze to fill in the room. Drink lots of fluids to flush away toxins and other radicals. Eat nutritious food especially those that contain Vit. C and Zinc. You may be able to avoid these contagious diseases entirely if your defenses are mounted early enough. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water then disinfect with alcohol or sanitizer gel as you can. Don’t share towels, drinking glasses or eating utensils with other people.
But a rule of thumb: if your colds and cough are present for more than seven days, you should seek help from your medical practitioner. By that point, the odds can be higher than you could be dealing a condition that needs medical treatment and control the underlying problem.
What are your own home tips to combat cough or colds or prevent yourself and your family from being infected too?