ACHOO! Cold? Flu? What can I do?

While most people worry about cold and flu season beginning in October or November, some of us end up feeling miserable, exhausted, and looking for the number of the dump truck that just ran us over the minute any sign of spring hits.

Some areas of the country are enjoying beautiful signs of spring, with flowers having already poked through the earth to present us with their radiance. Other areas are finally seeing patches of grass poking through the mountains of snow collected over the last few months. One this is for sure, no matter what part of the country you’re in…spring is in the air.

Unfortunately for some this means the dreaded “spring cold or flu”, which for some reason or another tends to hit us with more gusto than any other illness did over the winter. Perhaps this is because we aren’t expecting it, or perhaps we have been busier than usual, and it finally had a chance to find that foothold it needed to hit us. And hit us it does.

I want to first clear up some of the differences between colds and the flu. While both can make us equally miserable, they don’t provide the same symptoms or hazards. Take a look below at the chart, and you’ll be able to better see which of these two culprits has hit you. Following that, we’ll take a look at some natural ways you can deal with these symptoms, instead of spending a fortune at the pharmacy for medications which may or may not help in the first place.

Please note: I am not a medical doctor. This information is provided to you simply for that – informational purposes. If you are ill, and think you may have the flu, or anything other than a common cold, please consult your physician.

Is it a cold or the flu?

Now that we know what we’re dealing with, here are some natural remedies for cold and flu. You might want to keep this handy for NEXT autumn, when things are likely to start all over again.

The first thing you can do to help diminish or eliminate your chances of getting a cold or the flu is to remember to was your hands…often. It never hurts to keep a bottle of Purel or similar product around as well. Throw one in your purse, keep one in various rooms in the house and remember to use it.

To get ready before cold and flu season hits, it is recommended that you eat lots of garlic, combined with daily doses of Echinacea.  If, however, that cold or flu grabs hold anyhow, you can start feeling better reasonably soon after a footbath of dried mustard in a bowl of very hot water. This will help bring down that fever, as well as loosen any phlegm that might be building up.  There is also the popular remedy of lemon and honey.  Lemon because of it’s high levels of vitamin C, as well as it’s power to expel toxins.  The honey will soothe your throat.

Another way to get rid of that congestion is by drinking hot ginger water. Just slice up some ginger root and boil for 15 minutes. This will chase that cold away in no time. Ginger or peppermint can be added to a hot bath for some comfort.  Either of these will make you perspire, and this in turn gets rid of the toxins.

Onions, although not known for keeping your breath fresh, are excellent when it comes to colds. You can put a generous slice into a cup of boiling water. Add to this a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and drink before bedtime. Eating plenty of yogurt can help to kill any bad bacteria on its own. It will also help the production of much needed antibodies that will kill off any unwanted organisms.

At the first sign of fever, lemon juice and honey diluted with hot water will help. You can also use apple cider vinegar and honey. For that stubborn fever, remember to drink lots of liquids. The preferences are unsweetened fruit juices. And for that sore throat that won’t quit, make up a mixture of salt, lemon juice and hot water. Using this to gargle with can soothe the throat and get rid of the burning sensation that often comes with a sore throat.

There are several herbal tea recipes that are easily made from scratch, or bought at your local health food or grocery store. One favorite that helps you sleep when you aren’t feeling your best is lavender. Peppermint tea and green tea are also great choices when you aren’t quite feeling up to par. You can also try hibiscus and basil for fever or aches and pains.

For fighting infection and inflammation, try a spoonful of crushed black currants in a cup of boiling water. Let it infuse for about 10 minutes, then sip slowly and chew on the pieces of the fruit.

Symptom    Cold    Flu
Fever     Rare     Characteristic, high (100-102 degrees F); lasts three to four days

Headache     Rare     Prominent
General Aches, Pains     Slight     Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness     Quite mild     Can last up to two to three weeks
Extreme Exhaustion     Never     Early and prominent
Stuffy Nose     Common     Sometimes
Sneezing     Usual     Sometimes
Sore Throat     Common     Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough     Mild to moderate;
hacking cough     Common; can become severe

Complications    Sinus congestion or earache     Bronchitis, pneumonia;
can be life-threatening

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