Fight Colds and Flu With These 10 Remedies

If you’ve been too slow in getting your flu shot for the season, or you want some additional immunity support, there are simple ways you can help protect yourself from the colds and flu.

Read our top ten ways you can reduce the length and severity of colds and flu, along with other simple remedies to make you more comfortable while you get through the winter bugs.

Chicken soup

Whether it’s because it’s a comfort food, if it’s the steam coming off it, or it does indeed have infection fighting characteristics, a variety of studies show that chicken soup does indeed help ‘flu victims feel better.

Liquid elderberry extract

Some studies have backed up the received wisdom that elderberry extract, if taken when initial symptoms appear, does have an antiviral effect against influenza and herpes simplex.


Drinking plenty when you have the flu is key to keeping your discomfort to a minimum, without continuously replacing the fluids you are losing through fever and mucous build-up, you can quickly become dehydrated which can delay your recovery as well as make you feel so much worse than you should. Cool drinks can be soothing when you have a fever and hot drinks can be soothing when you have a sore or tickly throat. Whatever you choose, just drink, drink, drink!

Blow your nose

It’s true, when it comes to mucous, it’s better out then in. Blowing your nose regularly when you’re snotty is so much better than sniffing the mucous back and swallowing it. Do be careful, though, to blow gently as blowing your nose hard when you have the flu or a cold can cause acute ear pain.

Equalise your ears

One of the common symptoms of the flu is having blocked and sore ears as the fluid builds up in the middle ear. Equalising your ears regularly – pinching your nose with your fingers and gently blowing air into your nose for the count of 10 then releasing your nose, and then repeating this five times while you have flu or cold symptoms will keep the fluid moving and significantly reduce the chance of a secondary ear or sinus infection. Equalising will also provide temporary relief from the uncomfortable stuffed-up feeling many cold and flu sufferers experience.


Gargling is a great way to tackle throat ailments, everything from a ticklish throat to a it’s-too-painful-to-swallow throat. Whether you choose a gargle from the chemist or simply use warm water and salt, gargling will soothe and disinfect your throat membranes and moisten a dry sore throat.

Steam inhalations

Steam inhalations help thin the mucous that’s making you stuffy and clogging your chest. Several times a day, pour boiling water into a bowl – you can add a couple of drops of tea tree or eucalyptus oil into the water too. Place a towel over your head and then lower yourself so that your face is over the boiling water and the towel is creating a tent around you. Breathe the steam in deeply and slowly until the water begins to cool. As steam is generally good for getting mucous moving, hot showers also have a health benefit.

Chest rubs

There is something so automatically comforting about rubbing something menthol-y on your chest and back when you’re sick that it has to be good, right? Happily, chest rubs do have a medicinal use beyond making you feel nurtured. Eucalyptus, camphor and menthol rubs all work to soothe chest congestion and the vapours that are released from contact with your warm skin will help clear your congested head.

Elevate your head when sleeping

Aside from the general aches and pains that come with the flu, chest and head congestion can make it really difficult to get the rest you need when fighting a bug. The best way to get and stay comfortable in bed when you have the flu is by elevating your head with an extra pillow or two. By keeping your head and chest higher than the rest of your body, you’ll avoid them ‘filling up’ when you lie flat. Coughs too can be improved at night by simply sleeping with your head in an elevated position.

Cool compresses

If you’re having trouble controlling your fever, use cool (not cold) compresses on the pulse points around your body – the wrists, neck and throat – to cool your blood as it passes close to the surface of your skin. You can also find relief from blocked sinuses by laying cool or warm compresses across the painful areas of your face.

This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot, New Zealand’s best family health resource.


  1. dawnblyth 03/07/2019 at 10:56 pm

    We find Vicks ointent a great help in soothing the blockages in our house – we apply topically on our skin, and also add it to a bowl of steaming hot water. The vapors release into the air and help the nasal passages relax. Vitamin C is a great tool in the prevention of bugs also. I have never tried Echninaeca but I have seen it in the shops in a combined form with Vit C – it might be worth a try.

  2. MuddledUpMolly 01/07/2019 at 8:54 pm

    This is a such a well times article, everyone is so super sick this year! We do alot of these things and have echinacea wit our vitamin c tablets. The equalising of the ears is something that I will definitely try out as it is something I haven’t done before. We use vicks quite often but never on the feet so that is another tip to try.

  3. kymmage 30/06/2019 at 12:14 pm

    I try to up our intake of vitamin c via fruit. Lots of mandarins and oranges. My youngest won’t touch it though! I believe in fluids. Either clear but flavourful soups, water and even lemonade. As a kid I would have lemonade whenever I was sick and so that taste always makes me feel comforted. A hot shower can be amazing and that steam definitely helps.

  4. SarahBlair 26/06/2019 at 1:57 pm

    I have tried a lot of these but there are some that I haven’t, I will have to get some Echinacea before the colds and flu hit our house, it sounds wonderful to help with sickness!

  5. Micht 25/06/2019 at 8:00 pm

    If for every time we bought vicks in our family we got paid…we would be multitrillionaires right now… my mum and grandma swear by this as the ultimate help for everything… so we apply it everywhere during colds and flus…it clears up the airways, heats the body up and really does help in decongestion… the other thing that does work really well is the inhaling vapours, we usually pop in a blob of vicks in boiling water…
    Chest rubs are so soothing and comforting along with a good vicks rub under the feet with socks on.I personally have never tried echinacea but will look into it now more…
    Highly recommend salt water gargling for a sore throat…makes a big difference…

  6. Bevik1971 24/06/2019 at 9:46 am

    These are all great things – I always have problems with my ears being constantly blocked when I’m sick and find it really hard to equalise them. I didn’t realise you had to hold it for so long so will definitely try this!! Elevating the head at night is a biggie and we pretty much have our 6 year olds bed head elevated all the time now as she seems to be coughing a lot 🙁 Good old Vicks is always great for a chest rub for kids and adults and helps with a stuffy nose too. We also use steam inhalations like my Mum used to do with some boiling water in a bowl, add some Vicks Vaporub and pop a towel over your head and breathe it in (keep your eyes closed though!!). I actually very rarely blow my nose but I might do it a bit more often now! 🙂

  7. Shorrty4life1 13/06/2019 at 1:15 pm

    I always believe in Vicks vapour rub around this time of the year. Put it on your feet and chest and under your nose. Forehead for headaches also and put eucalyptus tissues in your pillow case helps also for easy breathing and allowing you to not get stuffy at nights. I always swear by also blowing your nose too my kids are the worst at leaving it and snuffling. I’m forever saying just blow it.

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