Fighting Colds and Flu Naturally

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Yesterday I shared some natural ways to prevent colds and flu. Sadly, sometimes even with the best preventative measures, we will become infected.

Many people will call their health-care provider hoping for some magical cure, or hop onto online communities hoping for a natural cure. The fact is, a treated or untreated cold lasts, on average, 7-9 days. Likewise, untreated viral Influenza lasts roughly 4-5 days, the same as medically treated flu. (Note: the Influenza is markedly different than what most people refer to as the flu. Viral Influenza is marked by high fever, body aches, runny nose and sneezing. The flu is not a stomach bug.)

The best cure for colds and flu is time.

Unfortunately colds and flu are very uncomfortable and we need ways to keep our family more comfortable as they recover.

Natural Cold and Flu Care

  1. Steam is your friend. Run the shower and faucet in your smallest bathroom, turning the room into a steam closet. Spend as much time in there as you can, while regularly blowing your nose or suctioning mucous from your babies nose. The steam will loosen the mucous and moisturize irritated nasal passages.
  2. Clap chest and back. If your child is suffering from a "junky" sounding cough, they can benefit from percussive clapping on their chest and back to loosen the phlegm. This clapping is with an open palm and has to be harder than what you would use to burp a baby.
  3. Sleep upright: There is a reason that babies with colds only want to sleep on a parent's chest. It is easier for them to breathe in a more upright position. I allow my older children to sleep in a recliner in the living room when they have a cold. babies may sleep more comfortably in their swing or bouncy seat during this time as well.
  4. Blow that nose: Keeping nasal passages as clear as possible will help prevent a sinus infection and will keep you more comfortable. Noses may become raw, so a little balm under the nose may help. Infants and young babies will need to be aspirated with a nasal aspirator or Nose Frieda. You can help loosen their nasal secretions with a few drops of saline.
  5. Hot steam vaporizer: if you can keep a hot steam vaporizer out of the hands of curious toddlers and pets (they are a burn risk), it can make night air in the bedroom more comfortable for sleeping. Make sure you air the room out well the next day to prevent eh growth of mold due to the added moisture.
  6. Chest rub: A vaporizing chest rub can be comforting for some, but not all. A good natural option is Nature's Baby Organics Organic Ah-Choo! Chest Rub.
  7. Drink up! Make sure your fluid intake is increased! This helps thin secretions and will increase your comfort level. Continue to nurse babies who have colds, and be patient with it appears they have trouble breathing through feeding, you may have to get creative with positioning. Hot tea with honey and lemon is a great and comforting folk remedy for anyone over the age of 12 months.
  8. Chicken soup. Grandma was right! Homemade chicken soup really does have some curative properties for those suffering from colds. Part of the comforting is the warm steam while eating, and the salty broth helps sooth a sore throat. There have been studies that show chicken soup does have some anti viral properties as well. Want a great recipe for Chicken Soup with healing herbs garlic and Thyme? Read here!

When to Call the Doctor

Since time is the ultimate cure for a cold, there is usually no need to consult your doctor in the early stages. However, if your newborn (Under 6 weeks old) is showing signs of a cold or of RSV consult your doctor immediately. If your cold symptoms worsen over five days or do not improve in over 10 days, please see your doctor as this may be signs of a more serious sinus infection or bronchitis.

Please note that the current recommendation is to not give any over the counter cold or cough products to children under the age of two, and should be given very sparingly to children older than that, and then, only age appropriate formulations.

Chime in! What have been your best ways to treat cold and flu naturally? Leave a comment to share with the NaturallyBorn community.

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Pam is a mom of six (including twins) and is a self described "birth junkie". Over the past 17 years she has spent 3 years pregnant, 7 years breastfeeding (including 17 months nursing twins), and has been changing diapers for 13 years and counting. She blogs at Pam graduated in 1993 from Hope College in Holland, Michigan with a B.A. in English Literature.