How Supplements Can Help with Fever and the Flu
Millions of people suffer from colds and flu each year, which often leads to school and work absences, and sometimes, even serious complications. Research shows that more and more people are turning to health supplements to prevent and treat these viral infections, which are often associated with fever and other symptoms. Since over-the-counter medications are often of little help in reducing the symptoms of colds and flu, people are relying on natural remedies, including health supplements to improve their health. Believing that natural remedies are more effective in boosting immunity and preventing colds and flu, people have spent billions of dollars on health supplements in the last year, which is more than twice what they spent on over-the-counter medications.
The flu (influenza) is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by H. influenza virus. It is usually transmitted through direct contact (kissing, shaking hands with an infected person) or by coughing, sneezing, or talking. People usually feel sick a couple of days after exposure to the virus.
Symptoms of the flu includes high fever, abrupt onset of headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue. Runny nose, sore throat, and cough are common. Children may also experience vomiting and diarrhea, and develop ear infections as well. These symptoms may resolve after four to five days, but other people may feel ill for more than two weeks. With a weakened resistance, other people have severe symptoms and complication may arise.
Fever and flu can make children miss school and adults be absent from work. They may also spread the germs by just talking, coughing, sneezing, or touching common objects such as doorknobs and telephones, causing many others to be sick, too. To avoid these, many look for ways to shorten the duration of their illness and relieve their symptoms. Many over-the-counter medications are available, including antipyretics for fever, such as aspirin and acetaminophen, nasal decongestants, cough medications, and other drugs. However, their effects are often short-lasting and not enough to make one feel well enough to function at work or school.
Home Remedies for Fever and Flu
Simple home remedies may help relieve symptoms of fever and flu.
- Enjoy a long-deserved bed rest to give your body time to heal itself.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and help thin out your mucus secretions.
- Eat immune boosting foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, such as:
- Button Mushrooms
- Acai Berry
- Low-Fat Yogurt
4. Eat protein-rich foods, which will help the body build immunity and repair tissues during recovery.
5. Enjoy some chicken soup. This is a traditional home remedy for colds, flu, fever, and other illnesses, which is believed to ease nasal congestion, prevent dehydration, and soothe inflammation.
6. Take some hot tea. Whether you prefer black tea, green tea, or other herbal tea, you will benefit from the hot steam that can soothe nasal congestion and the antioxidants that can help you fight infection.
7. Use a humidifier or sit in the bathroom with a running hot shower to relieve nasal congestion, stuffy nose, or runny nose.
8. Spray saltwater into your nostrils to soften your nasal secretions and remove mucus.
9. Use a ceramic (neti) pot with saltwater to inhale steam and flush out your nasal secretions.
10. Gargle with saltwater to soothe a sore throat.
11. Lower your body temperature by getting a sponge bath. If your body temperature is over 104º F, and it does not go down with home remedies, call a doctor.
12. Take health supplements to boost your immunity.
Some health supplements are believed to be beneficial for fever and flu. These include:
- Echinacea, a herbal supplement that helps boost the immune system to fight infection, and shorten the duration of symptoms.
- Zinc, which helps fight viral infection, and reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.
- Vitamin C, which helps reduce symptoms and prevent colds after exposure to cold weather conditions.
- Vitamin E, another antioxidant which helps fight against stress and promote early recovery.
- Quercetin, a bioflavonoid that boosts immune system activation.
- Ginseng, which helps shorten the duration and reduce the severity of symptoms.
- Glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps fights infection.
There many other dietary supplements used to relieve flu symptoms, including astragalus, goldenseal, andrographis, kiwi, boneset, and oscillococcinium. However, more studies are needed to provide evidence on the effectiveness of these supplements in treating the symptoms of fever and flu.
This information should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.
WebMD. Natural Cold and Flu Remedies.
WebMD. Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever?
UMMC. Colds and the flu.
MedicineNet. Immune Boosting Foods.
MedicineNet. Natural Cold & Flu Remedies.