Cheap home remedies for the fall season flu
By Adam Tatelman, Staff Writer
I don’t get sick often, but when I do, it’s usually one of those wet-cement-in-the-nose, projectile-spitting, sternum-shattering, blood-eagle coughs that hangs around for a week or two. Students don’t have time for any of that, so I’m going to share all of the techniques I’ve learned over the course of my recent illness to help you, the hard-working college student, cope with these symptoms.
Lozenges: Tried and true, lozenges are useful for reducing throat irritation, and suppress the cough impulse by giving you something to suck on. The usual medicinal ingredients are benzocaine, menthol, or both. There’s a ton of brands, but I prefer Vicks. They last longer than Halls do, and they retail for $1.20 for a pack of 20. ’
Tea & Honey: Traditional Medicinals is the best tea brand there is. They’ve got sleep aid teas, and ones with echinacea for sore throats; what I like to do is brew both together when I’m sleepy. Adding honey helps to calm the throat muscles, and drinking something warm helps with the chills. Staying hydrated is important. So is peeing a lot; it helps to expel the invading germs. For a little extra kick, dissolve a lozenge in your tea before you drink it.
Herbal Remedies: There are lots of these, so let’s use Nin Jiom as a case study. It’s an old Chinese remedy, a syrup-like concoction made from honey, plus various different roots and herbs. One of those herbs is—you guessed it—menthol. Yes, they had it back in the Qing Dynasty. It’s the reason Nin Jiom tastes like a cough candy and works the same way. It’s no cure, but it’s as effective as any prescription your doctor might give you, minus a host of side effects.
Expectorate: The best way to clear one’s sinuses is not to blow into a hanky. That just makes a mess. Gross as it sounds, the most effective technique is to inhale sharply through the nose, sucking all the phlegm into the mouth. Then, spit the phlegm into the sink, and wash it away. Just please try and avoid doing it in public.
Breath Control: I’m not saying you have to become a ninja overnight, but none of the above remedies do anything more than relax your symptoms for a bit. That makes sleeping with a bad cough very difficult. The only thing that actually stops the cough impulse long-term is to sleep in a sitting position supported by pillows while trying to slow your breathing. Practice until your breath is too quiet to hear and almost too gentle to move your chest up and down. Learn to hang out in that state of breathing, and you’ll greatly reduce your nighttime coughing.
Things I Avoid: Throat sprays like Chloraseptic are good for numbing your throat, but they are very temporary and do nothing to impede the cough impulse. Just gargle with mouthwash or salt-water instead. Avoid forced-air heating if you’ve got a fever or chill; that just dries out your lungs and makes things worse. Use blankets instead. Humidifiers are a toss-up; they might help keep you warm at night without drying you out, but they’re pricey and make your whole bed feel drenched.Nobody likes being sick, but using these tips will help you get through the day, as well as speed your recovery without you needing to rely on prescription drugs. Just remember—as with all ailments, nothing helps like sleep.