Posted on September 26, 2022

7 Ways to Ease Cold & Flu Symptoms

sick woman laying in bed and blowing her nose

Cold and flu season can vary each year, but it typically peaks between December and February in the United States. In fact, it’s reported that between 5% and 20% of the population will get the flu on average each year. 

While these conditions can be unpleasant, there are a number of effective ways to ease the symptoms. Read on to learn about the differences between colds and the flu, as well as simple ways you can find relief.

Cold Symptoms vs. Flu Symptoms

When you start to feel a little under the weather, you might be wondering: How do I know if I have a cold or the flu? While both illnesses have symptoms in common, there are some specific differences. Here are the best ways to identify colds vs. the flu.

Common Cold Symptoms

The common cold is a virus that attaches to the lining of your nose or throat. As these areas become inflamed, they produce extra mucus and stress your body as it spends a significant amount of energy fighting the virus. 

Colds are typically spread by direct contact with another infected person, and can also be spread by touching surfaces covered with germs and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

These are some of the most common symptoms of a cold:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Excess mucus in nose and throat
  • Tiredness and fatigue

Common Flu Symptoms

The flu is caused by the influenza virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. Similar to a cold, flu is spread by contact with an infected person who sends droplets into the air through talking, coughing, or sneezing. It may spread by touching a surface with germs and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes as well.

The most common flu symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, typically in children

7 Ways to Ease Cold & Flu Symptoms

While getting sick might have you feeling miserable for a few days, there are ways to find relief. Try any of these seven options to ease your cold and flu symptoms and get back to full strength.

Stay Hydrated

One of the most important things you can do when sick is stay hydrated. Your body is using a lot of energy to fight off the illness, and it needs the right fuel to fight it. Proper hydration will also help thin the mucus in your nose and throat, allowing your body to expel it more easily. While water is always a safe choice, sport drinks and juice will also help you hydrate. For sore throat relief at the same time, try warm tea with honey or broth-based soups.

Get Lots of Rest

When you’re feeling the effects of cold and flu symptoms, get as much rest as possible. In addition to the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep, don’t hesitate to take naps whenever you’re feeling fatigued. Though it’s not always an option, try to avoid going to work or doing strenuous activity so your body can focus all of its energy on fighting the infection.

Blow Your Nose

Blowing your nose over and over can get exhausting, but the benefits are worth it. By expelling the phlegm from your body, it helps relieve sinus pressure and pain, reduce irritants that cause sore throat, and keep mucus out of your lungs. The best way to blow your nose is to cover one nostril and blow gently into a tissue.

Increase Moisture in the Air

When it feels like your congestion is locked in and won’t move, consider adding some moisture to the air to loosen it up. This can be accomplished by using a humidifier or taking a hot, steamy shower. Added moisture may also help soothe your irritated and sore nasal passages and throat.

Try Pain Relievers

If your body aches and fever are making it difficult to stay comfortable and rest, you can always turn to over the counter pain relievers. Medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen have been shown to help get those symptoms under control. However, always consult with your primary care doctor on safe dosages, especially for children.

Saltwater Gargle

A sore throat is one of the most aggravating cold and flu symptoms. Every time you swallow, take a drink, or eat food you’re reminded of the pain. To get some temporary relief, try using a saltwater gargle. It will wash away mucus and help reduce inflammation. The ideal ratio is to mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water.

Elevate Your Upper Body

Is congestion making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep? A trick to use is sleeping with your upper body slightly elevated. This will stop mucus from pooling in your sinuses and help you breathe better. Make sure you elevate your whole upper body instead of just your head. The angle that results from just tilting your neck can make it even more difficult to breathe.

Schedule an Appointment at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa

The doctors at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa are here to help you navigate the cold and flu season. Whether you need to schedule a flu shot or want to know more about your symptoms, we’ll do everything we can to keep you healthy and make care convenient.

Schedule an appointment online or use our walk-in care as needed, and you’ll see why PCI has been ranked in the top 10% for patient satisfaction.

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