Are you suffering from high grade fever (higher than 100o F) associated with cough, tenderness and body aches? Are you experiencing difficulty in breathing especially while sleeping? If answer to these questions is a YES; then you are suffering from the seasonal flu. Flu is the most common viral infection that spreads via droplet infection (or respiratory secretions). So, it is highly suggested to stay at home if you are under the attack of flu virus to avoid the dispersion of infectious agents to healthy contacts.

Instead of always seeing a doctor for the alleviation of flu symptoms, you can easily try out several home remedies for flu management; however, if your symptoms are worsening over time or you are developing new symptoms, you should see a registered healthcare provider.

Best Home Remedies for Flu

Here are a few simple flu remedies (some of which are the same as cold remedies) in mild cases to hasten the recovery.

General Guidelines

  • Rest: Make sure to give optimal rest to your body and mind for better immune functioning

  • Intake of Healthy Meals and Fluids: The most important home remedies for flu/cold is, maintaining healthy intake of high quality nutrients to fight flu virus. Healthcare providers also recommend optimal intake of fluids to minimize the risk of dehydration. 

  • Keep Yourself Warm: Wear warm clothes when you are sick with flu and cold. In addition, keep your surrounding environment warm and cozy by adjusting room temperature and properly insulating your home from harsh winds.

  • Control Your Fever: If you are experiencing high grade fever, try cold sponging. This can be done by soaking a piece of cloth or towel strips in cold water.

  • Light Exercise: Moderate exercise is good for physical strength, endurance and optimal functioning of immune system; but avoid vigorous physical activity if you are suffering from cold/flu. If you are experiencing a strong urge, you can go for a brisk walk or bike riding.

  • Sleep Instructions: Maintaining a normal sleep pattern can be very hard during influenza infection, especially with concomitant symptoms like cough, post-nasal dripping, blocked nose and dryness of throat; however, a mere change in sleep position or using higher pillow to maintain propped up can improve the sleep quality and also facilitate easy breathing.

  • Use of Medicines: Over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory agents can also be consumed to avoid high grade fever, headache, body ache and muscle pains. Most helpful agents are ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin and related drugs. 


Clearing of Mucus

Difficulty in breathing due to sinus congestion is one of the most annoying symptoms of flu that greatly interferes with the normal quality of life. Congestion of sinuses is a result of inflammatory swelling of blood vessels that increases the fluid leakage in sinus spaces; but there are several flu remedies that can help in clearing the mucus to ensure proper breathing: 

  • Use of humidifier or any machine that can warm the environment can help in clearing the nose and sinuses. You can also achieve the same results with a warm shower.

  • Saline sprays directly delivers the moisture to your blocked vessels to ensure effortless breathing.

  • Blowing your nose is the simplest yet the most effective solution to effectively remove the mucus.

  • Steam inhalation is another effective cold remedy that allows easy removal of mucus as a result of mucus thinning.


Aromatic Steaming

Steam inhalation is perhaps the least time consuming and most effective home remedy for flu. Inhalation of steam helps in thinning out of mucus and clearing off the airways. Here is how it works; pour water in a pot and allow it to boil. Once very hot and steaming, remove the pot from the stove. After securing the pot, lean over and cover your head with a towel or thick cloth to get maximum steam. You can also add natural oil or herbs for instant relief; such as ginger, Chamomile etc. or an ointment like Vicks.


Drink Right and Stay Hydrated

Keeping yourself hydrated with warm liquids is one of the most effective home remedies for flu. Warm liquids provide soothing relaxation to your throats while restoring normal fluid levels in your body. Most recommended beverages include warm water (with a natural flavor to improve palatability such as salt, lemon, natural herbs etc.), hot soups, and herbal teas.

Additionally, fluids like fruit juices and soups are also important at delivering instant energy (this is mainly because nutrients from fluids are more readily absorbed into the blood stream than conventional meals). Make sure to avoid alcohol and soda drinks to ensure early recovery.


Eat the Right Foods

Choose high quality nutrient sources that are capable of delivering maximum energy and nutrients to improve the pace of recovery. Most people find it very difficult to maintain normal dietary intake due to altered flavor in mouth and poor appetite. Therefore healthy portions of fruits and vegetables are highly recommended, such as bananas, blue berries, and carrots. Also incorporate dietary sources that are rich in antioxidants, such as peppers, chilies, whole-grain products, nuts and seeds.



Garlic has been used as a natural medicine for centuries. Appropriate use of garlic is helpful in warding off the infectious agents by activating immune system. Research indicates that garlic intake during active flu can help in hastening the pace of recovery. You can add garlic slices in your soups, sandwiches, teas and other foods or consume garlic paste with honey.


Honey and Lemon

Honey and lemon are proven and efficient home remedies for flu/cold. Honey and lemon combination can be used with warm fluids to enhance soothing relaxation of sore throat. According to a new study reported in “Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine”, researchers concluded that most parents prefer honey over most commercially available pharmacological remedies for management of cold and flu in children due to high efficacy and low risk of adverse effects.


Spice Up Your Cooking

Research has shown that chilies or pepper have high quality nutrients such as capsaicin and vitamin C that helps in warding off free radicals and vascular congestion. In simple words, it is not a rule to consume only dull and blend meals when you are sick. Adding some hot spices can help a great deal in improving overall health too. So next time when you are unwell, make sure to try chicken ginger sandwich with controlled amounts of crushed red pepper for rocking flavor and early relief from cold.


Cough Syrup

In acute flu and cold, an over-the-counter cough suppressant is usually effective at alleviating the symptoms. You can try from a wide range of products including expectorants such as guaifenesin, antitussives (cough suppressing agents) and topical agents such as methanol rubs. It is imperative to keep in mind that individuals with coexisting lung conditions (such as asthma) may experience severe illness. Make sure to see a doctor if your symptoms are not responding to OTC agents. Do not administer any OTC drug to children under the age of 4 years.

When to Worry

Following situations demand extra care and caution:

  • Individuals at the extremes of age (such as very young kids or elderly over the age of 65 years)

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers

  • Individuals with certain medical conditions

  • If the individual is experiencing disturbing symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, altered state of consciousness, persistent nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, feeling of pressure in the abdomen/ chest or worsening cough.

Note: Antibiotics are not prescribed to manage the symptoms of flu (as influenza is viral in origin); however, in some individuals who develop complicated infections (such as pneumonia or chest infections) antibiotics should be given after checking for sensitivity. Avoid Aspirin in young kids or adolescents due to potential risk of Reye’s syndrome.


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