If you come down with a cough, sniffles, congestion or a fever, don’t panic. The overwhelming majority of people who get a viral respiratory infection will experience mild to moderate symptoms for a few days and recover with no lingering problems.
Nevertheless, when you are sick with the flu, a bad cold or another viral infection, you want to do everything you can to relieve symptoms and get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
Drugs Aren’t the Answer
Resist the urge to ask your doctor for an antibiotic. Although these drugs have zero effect on flu, colds and most sore throats, doctors prescribe them anyway, often at their patients’ request. A 2019 BMJ study reported that nearly a quarter of the antibiotics used in the United States are prescribed inappropriately!
In addition to disrupting your normal gut microbiota and opening the door for the overgrowth of yeast and pathogenic bacteria, overuse of these drugs is a leading contributor to our growing problem of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Prescription antivirals such as Tamiflu and Relenza aren’t that great either. They reduce the duration of flu symptoms by half a day to a day and a half—if you start them within 48 hours of symptom onset. The problem is that by the time most people see the doctor, that window has passed, so why bother?
Get Well Faster
The best remedies for speeding recovery from a viral illness are the old faithfuls such as rest to shore up your immune system, extra fluids to stay hydrated and chicken soup, which has proven medicinal benefits.
At the first sign of illness, I also suggest these nutrients:
- Vitamin C: Take two 1,000 mg capsules every hour until loose stools occur, then cut back by 25 percent.
- Vitamin D: Boost your intake of vitamin D3 to 50,000 IU daily for seven days, then return to your usual dose.
- Zinc: Increase your daily zinc dose to 60–90 mg for about a week.
- Quercetin: Add 250 mg of quercetin, a protective flavonoid, twice a day.
All these nutrients have been shown in scientific studies to shorten the duration of respiratory infections. It’s best to stock up on them so you will have them on hand. For optimal results, they must be started at the first sign of illness, within 24 hours of initial symptom onset.
Safe, Natural Symptom Relief
For symptom relief, many people opt for over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu remedies. You may be surprised to learn that most of them work no better than placebos. This includes top-selling cough medicines and decongestants containing phenylephrine (Sudafed, Neo-Synephrine). Decongestant nasal sprays may help but using them for more a few days can lead to chronic congestion. And combo formulas that contain several medications to address every possible symptom are overkill and expose you to unnecessary drugs that can only cause harm.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen) can help bring down a fever, but unless your temperature is above 102 degrees, it is best to let it be. Fever plays an important role in fighting infections, and experts recommend letting it run its course. Rather than OTC drugs, here are some safe natural therapies for addressing symptoms:
- Honey: To quell a cough, a teaspoon or two of honey has been shown to work better than OTC cough medicines in children over age one.
- Herbal tea: For coughs and sore throats, sip on warm herbal tea with a little honey and lemon.
- Saline rinses and gargles: To open up your sinuses, use saline nasal rinses with a neti pot or bottle twice a day. Gargling with salt water is an age-old remedy for sore throats.
- Xlear Nasal Spray: For nasal congestion and irritation, try this unique nasal spray. It contains xylitol, a natural sugar that cleanses and hydrates the nasal passages and helps curb microbial growth.
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC): To thin and loosen mucus, take 600 mg of NAC twice a day. This old-school treatment for lung disorders, which boosts glutathione levels and has antiviral activity, has also been shown to reduce the risk of influenza in older people.
- Nano-silver: For extra relief, consider nano-silver, a natural antimicrobial with proven activity against viruses and bacteria. Sprays such as Argentyn 23 Professional Silver Nasal Spray deliver tiny particles directly into the nasal passages.
Note: Viral infections can lead to serious complications, especially in older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Consult your doctor at once for severe or lingering illness.
Taking charge of your health is more important now than ever, and we want to support you in every way we can. At Hotze Health & Wellness Center, we specialize in using safe, natural therapies to strengthen your immune system and to improve your health, energy, vitality and resistance to disease. To schedule a Free Wellness Consultation—via telemedicine or at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center—call us at 281-698-8698 or visit hotzehwc.com.