Thursday, January 27, 2011

Favorite Cold and Flu Treatments

It has been a rough week in our house. Both Jack and my husband have sinus infections, bad coughs and terrible flu symptoms. Jack just wants to be cuddled, my husband just wants to rest, and neither can seem to sleep for more than twenty minutes at a time.

Me?  I'm exhausted just trying to keep up with all of this.

So I've been thinking a lot about natural cold and flu treatments and prevention measures. Both of my guys have been prescribed antibiotics for their sinus infections, but when it comes to easing the cold and flu symptoms we need to fall back on old favorites, and a few new ones.

Traditional Medicinals Tea: Organic Throat Coat and Breathe Easy
Even the tea skeptics agree with me on these choices, and I have converted quite a few with these two teas. Organic Throat Coat blends licorice root, slippery elm and other organic supplements to create a tasty and really effective cough reliever. While the taste isn't for everyone - it has a distinct black licorice note to it - it is much better than sucking on sugary menthol cough drops.  Breathe Easy is a little spicier and promotes respiratory health.  When I'm in the heart of a good cold,  I turn to Throat Coat, but when I'm just beginning to feel the symptoms, Breathe Easy is my go-to tea.  I find these at my local grocery store chain.

Ricola Cough Drops:  Green Tea with Echinacea.
As fabulous as that tea is, sometimes you just need the fast relief of a cough drop.  In those cases, I've been turning to Ricola because they actually taste pretty good, and they are just as effective as terrible tasting Halls cough drops.  This week Jack's doctor recommeded a particular flavor - green tea with echinacea - as something to take at the start of cold symptoms to fight the cold as well as once a cough has settled in.  So far, I love the recommendation.

Steam, or better yet, Vicks Vaporizer Steam.
We've always turned to a hot shower for cold, cough and sinus relief.  For very young babies, it is one of the few options available to help ease respiratory ailments.  When Jack was tiny, I'd set up his little swing in the bathroom, close the door, and run the shower hot so he could take in the steam.  Between the sound of the running water, the movement of the swing, and the relief from the steam, it usually put him to sleep.

Just today we decided to take the steam a step further by purchasing a Vicks Vaporizer.  Within minutes of setting it up, my husband felt the first sinus relief he's had in days.  For under twenty bucks, this was a great buy and one that we will no doubt rely on whenever the flu is in our house.

Chicken Soup.
Few things are as cliche as chicken soup for a cold, but there's no doubting that this comfort food provides a whole lot of relief for not a lot of effort.  While a can of Campbells will do just fine, if you want to avoid the some of the sodium, just add some cubed chicken breasts into some chicken broth, cut up a few carrots and some celery, add wide egg noodles, and you have some pretty fabulous soup.

Sleep, or at least, rest.
Telling a sick parent with a sick child to rest is pretty futile, but the bottom line is that rest is what is going give your body the break it needs to fight off what ails you.  Even when other things are pressing, getting enough rest has to be made a priority.  Housework can wait.  Laundry can wait.  Sometimes, work can even wait.  Think back to the adage of those first months with your newborn:  sleep when the baby sleeps.  Your body will thank you, and the dirty dishes won't go anywhere without you anyway.

An ounce of prevention.
Not getting a cold in the first place is far better than treating cold symptoms, so prevention is always the best when possible.  Simple things like hand washing go a long way.  Be conscious of what you touch in public places, and what you touch afterward.  Ever touch a doorknob and then later touch your face?  You have, and now that you are thinking about it, maybe you'll be more aware of it the next time you are out.  You never know whether the person who pushed that grocery cart before you had it just washed her hands, or whether she just sneezed without a tissue.  I'm no germaphobe, but even little precautions like this can go a long way to keeping that cold out of your house.

Stay well, readers.  I have a sick baby to cuddle, some chicken soup to prepare, and maybe even a nap in my future.


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