Remedies for cold and flu

Cold and flu season are in full swing so how do you arm yourself against these highly contagious sicknesses? According to Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief executive officer of St. Joseph Hospital in New York, "Get a flu shot. That's the single most important thing you can do." Flu shots can normally be administered at your local pharmacy. Aside from that, washing your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds is another great way to fight off the cold and flu.

But what if you caught the cold or flu? What can you do to nurse yourself back to health? Here are some remedies to fight some cold and flu symptoms to get back to everyday living:

Pain medication

When you are going through the flu, your muscles ache and you will most likely carry a fever. There are a few over the counter medicines that work well to help manage your pain and keep your fever down.

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Naproxen Sodium (Aleve)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Aspirin

All of these over-the-counter medications are safe and effective when fighting the cold and flu. Just make sure to follow the directions on the label. And if you are taking aspirin, don't give it to children under 18. Taking too many of these over-the-counter pain medications can create some serious health risks. Talk with your doctor if you need stronger pain medication to help relieve your symptoms.

Congestion remedies

Stuffy noses are no fun. It's difficult to breathe on top of all the other symptoms you are feeling. There are several remedies that can help you breathe easier this cold and flu season.

  • Nasal Decongestants: These congestants act quickly but the drawback to using them is that they are limited three days of use (you could suffer a rebound effect if you continue to use it, making your congestion even worse)
  • Oral Decongestants: These are not ask fast acting as nasal decongestants but are able to be taken regularly much longer than nasal decongestants.
  • Saline Nasal Spray: This is a safe way to naturally relieve nasal congestion. They are especially good for children because they help clean out mucus without the possible side effects of nasal decongestants.

There are both over-the-counter and prescription decongestants. Talk with your doctor if you think you might need a stronger decongestant that only they would be able to prescribe.

Cough remedies

One of the most difficult symptoms to deal with, if you have the flu or a cold, can be a cough. Over-the-counter cough syrups like Delsym and Mucinex can help supress a cough but it cannot help cure it. Drinking hot tea with honey or another warm liquids can sometimes be just as affective as medication for soothing a cough. If a cough continues to bother you, look for over-the-counter cough medicines with dextromethorphan or guaifensesin. If your cough stays bad or gets worse, you may need to see a doctor to get prescription cough medicine.

Sore Throat Remedies

After taking a bunch of medicines and coughing over and over again, your throat can become very scratchy and irritated. Medicated cough drops can be very soothing. Don't overdoo cough drops though because cough drops can be as sugary as candy. Honey is a safe, natural remedy as well.

Remember to consult a doctor before taking any of these over-the-counter medications as serious health problems can occur if you have pre-existing heart or lung conditions. Remember to save on your prescribed flu medication by visiting