Allergy Products Ease Cold and Flu Symptoms

Allergy Relief Products for cold and flu season

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5% to 20% of the United States population gets the flu every year. Adults are likely to have a cold at least two to four times annually; children, particularly preschoolers, are likely to have colds six to ten times a year.

With all this sickness going around, it's good to arm yourself with the knowledge of both how to prevent catching the cold and the flu, and how to treat symptoms if they do appear. Yes, there are over-the-counter medications to help ease symptoms. However, the Mayo Clinic warns against using decongestant sprays for more than a few days, and even states that the American College of Chest Physicians "strongly discourages the use of [cough syrups] because they're not effective at treating the underlying cause of cough due to colds." Children under two should never take OTC decongestants or cough syrups.

Fortunately, there are alternative ways to ease the discomforts of the flu and colds. Since many of the symptoms are similar to allergy symptoms, what we'd like to focus on here are natural and effective products that ease cold and flu symptoms. These products are especially important to have on hand when you're responsible for sick children.


Safe Cold Remedies Without the Side Effects
Relief Winter Flu Symptoms

Nasal Irrigation Clears Congestion

Nasal irrigation products provide relief from dry, inflamed, and otherwise irritated nasal membranes. Runny and stuffy noses, combined with overall congestion, can block nasal passageways and sinuses with increased mucus. This could lead to sinus headaches or the onset of acute sinusitis in sensitive individuals. In fact, those who suffer from chronic sinusitis or experience frequent bouts of acute sinusitis should take special care when confronted with a cold or the flu because mucus can retain the bacterial and fungal toxins that often lead to sinusitis infections.

The Mayo Clinic recommends saline for helping to treat cold symptoms: "Use saline nasal drops. To help relieve nasal congestion, try saline nasal drops. You can buy these drops over-the-counter, and they're effective, safe and nonirritating, even for children."

Sinupulse Elite

Narial Nasal Cup

Nasaflo Saline Rinse Kit

SinuAir Nasal Irrigation Mixes

Fight Flu without Medication

AIROSWISS Steam Humidifier

Pure Guardian Humidifiers

Ease Cold Symptoms Naturally


Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

The SinuPulse Elite Advanced Nasal Irrigation System is a top-of-the line nasal irrigation system that delivers soothing moisture via a gentle cleansing action, to your sinuses. This Swiss-engineered, doctor-recommended system is fully adjustable, easy to use, and will clear congestion and drain swollen mucous membranes to improve breathing. Saline rinses (each SinuPulse Elite comes with 30 packets of SinuAir saline mix) not only help to relieve congestion, they also rinse out allergens and germs, helping you fight your sickness.

A more cost-effective option for nasal irrigation, which may be the best bet for those who do not need the bells and whistles provided by the SinuPulse Elite, is a neti pot. Neti pots date back to ancient yoga health practices but are gaining recent popularity. Basically, the neti pot allows you to pour salinated water into one nostril and out the other. It may sound awful, but anyone who's tried it properly can tell you that it's not that bad and well worth the effort. The Narial Nasal Cup Neti Pot and the NeilMed NasaFlo Saline Rinse Kit are two excellent neti pot options. They are simple to use, easy to clean up, and can even be incorporated into your regular routine to help keep allergy symptoms - and colds and flus - at bay by keeping your sinuses cleansed of allergens and germs.

If neti pots aren't your thing, there are other ways to deliver soothing, cleansing saline rinses to your nasal passages. The SaltAire Nasal Sinus Wash, for instance, is a bottle with a manually operated pump, which allows you to control the rate of delivery. The NeilMed Sinus Rinse Kit features a more traditional sinus spray application and is preservative free, unlike many readily available nasal sprays. Lastly, the SinuAir sinus mixes are a safe, effective mix that contains no iodine, silica or preservatives.

For more information, and for step-by-step instructions, see Nasal Irrigation as Cold Remedy Featured on NPR.

Humidifiers Provide Soothing Moisture

The Mayo Clinic also recommends humidification in the treatment of colds: "Adjust your room's temperature and humidity. Keep your room warm, but not overheated. If the air is dry, a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing." Humidifiers ease congestion, calm stubborn coughs, soothe sore throats, and moisturize tender mucous membranes. By adding moisture to the air, especially during winter months when forced-air heating systems tend to dry out your home's air, humidifiers ease a host of allergy, cold, and flu symptoms. While the basic concept of a humidifier is that it creates a mist, either cool or warm, and introduces it into the air so that it can be breathed in, humidifiers are available in a number of varieties that offer users the perfect mix of safety and convenience.

For instance, Stadler Form humidifiers use a variety of technologies to help keep the water in the tank clean and hygienic. These range from ionic silver cubes that emit silver ions, a natural antimicrobial, and demineralization cartridges to preheating the water and evaporative wicks. All of these work to reduce or eliminate potential germs as well as mineral content from the water.

For placement in children's rooms, an especially good idea when they are suffering from cold or flu symptoms, Germ Guardian Ultrasonic Humidifiers offer exceptional features. The Germ Guardian line of humidifiers have an array of style and built-in features that include timers, night lights, indicator lights, digital displays, and built-in hygrostats, among others. All Germ Guardian humidifying units use ultrasonic technology to keep operation whisper quiet and Silver Clean technology to keep your unit from growing mold or bacteria in the water tank - and they're all quite stylish, too!

For more help choosing the humidifier that's right for you, see the Humidifier Buying Guide. For more information about how humidification can benefit your household, see Using Humidifiers for Allergy Relief and More.

Cold Symptoms vs. Flu Symptoms

Many of the symptoms caused by both the common cold and the flu are very similar. These include:Cold and Flu Symptoms

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

One thing that can help distinguish between a cold and the flu is assessing the severity of certain similar symptoms. For instance, while a cold may be accompanied by a low-grade fever, the flu may exhibit a high fever. In addition, muscle aches tend to be more severe with the flu as opposed to the common cold. Fatigue is also much more pronounced when the flu is the culprit of your sickness.

Symptoms that are unique to a cold include sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion. In addition, an itchy as opposed to a sore throat may indicate a cold rather than the flu. Stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are flu symptoms but not cold symptoms. Stomach symptoms are more likely to occur in children than in adults.

Preventing Sickness: How to Avoid Catching the Flu or a Cold

As the CDC reports, and as we all know, the flu is contagious:

"Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons can still spread the virus to others."

Interestingly, both the flu and colds are by "droplet spread," which describes transmission of the disease from respiratory droplets that are expelled through an infected person's cough or sneeze. These germ-filled droplets may land on others' mouths or noses, or they may land on surfaces or objects. Healthy individuals may come into contact with these droplets and then touch their own mouths or noses before they wash their hands and thus become infected themselves.

The lessons here? Stay away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing; you never know what they may be carrying. When in crowded conditions such as a bus, try to cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or at the very least stay turned away from anyone who is visibly sick. And, of course, just like your mother always told you - WASH YOUR HANDS frequently. Be aware of not touching your mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth), especially when you are out and about. You never know on what door handle or countertop flu germs may be lingering.

Remember: for those who are eligible, and especially for those who are at risk of developing life-threatening complications from the flu, flu shots are recommended as the best way to avoid contracting the flu.

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