1. Eucalyptus essential oil
We have gotten a lot of comfort from eucalyptus oil. Put 2 or 3 drops on the bottom of the feet for relief from coughing and to make breathing easier. Add a few drops to bath or a pot of boiling water or to a diffuser to breath in it's aroma. Add a few drops to some olive oil natural lotion and gently massage over the sinus area (be careful not to get to close to the eyes), just behind ears, and down throat and chest to relieve congestion. Ok, I realize here that essential oils are not something that everyone has sitting in their cupboard or maybe even know how to get their hands on. If you live close to a Giant Eagle or Whole Foods, you're in luck, it's just a trip to the grocery store away. If not, Amazon.com is where I usually get mine. I like the Now (also labeled Now Foods) brand. There are many other brands available all over the internet and their prices range anywhere from about $3 to $40 an ounce. There are several articles out there dedicated to purchasing and using essential oils. For eucalyptus essential oil look for one that is steam distilled and 100% pure.
If you are not pregnant use raw (and preferably local) honey. Raw honey is not advised during pregnancy or for children under 2, however it is fine when you are nursing. Honey can be added to tea or other drinks or dishes. All the benefits of raw versus over processed honey are really best left for their own post, so I will try to get to writing it soon then link back to it from here when I do. However, even processed honey has benefits of soothing sore throats and helping to reduce coughing. A large spoonful of raw honey with a few dashes of cinnamon 3 times a day have been known to knock out a cold. I did this one night as I started coughing and feeling stuffy and the next morning I was symptom free.
3. Hot Tea
I like a good spiced or peppermint tea when I'm under the weather. Adding honey, lemon, and/or cinnamon to it is a good way to combine home remedy treatments. Obviously you would drink the tea. Also breath it in as it is cooling to a drinkable temperature. Breathing it in will help loosen up mucus and sooth inflamed sinus tissues.
Lemon has antiseptic qualities and boost immunities It also reduces swelling, helps clean out your system, and is packed with vitamins. Add lemon to water and hot teas. If you are blowing your nose a lot leaving nostrils inflamed or have a swollen throat, I highly recommend adding lemon to your drinks to reduce the swelling. It is also good in warm baths or add to boiling water to diffuse into the air. On a side, unrelated note, if you suffer from swelling while pregnant adding lemon to your water could offer you some great relief.
5. Chicken Soup
Not only does it soothe the throat and help open up nasal passages. There are properties of chicken soup that have actually been proven to reduce the length of a cold. If you're making homemade, I advise adding plenty of salt and garlic to the mix as both help in warding off germs.
We have 2 humidifiers and both go full blast when we are congested. I can definitely tell a difference in my comfort level when they run out of water or when little Cameron sneaks over and turns the level of produced mist down. Cool mist is supposed to be better than the hot option (not sure why). Make sure you keep the humidifier clean or you could actually make your symptoms worse. I've heard or seen where others advise to add vicks or eucalyptus to your cool mist humidifier. I've tried both and can't tell or smell a difference with either. I think getting these into the air only works if you are using some sort of heat or a device designed to diffuse them into the air.
7. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
You should do this even when you aren't sick, but since all that mucus coming out of you takes a lot of fluid to make, extra hydrate at this time. Drink water with lemon, warm teas, even sports drinks to keep up with the lost fluids and help cleanse your system.
8. Spices: Salt, Garlic, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cayenne, & Mint
Obviously, if you are allergic or have been advised not to use any of these then don't. All of these together in one recipe probably wouldn't be too pleasant on the taste buds. Add 1 or few to as many dishes or drinks as you can though. They all help with congestion and have antibiotic or antiviral properties. Also, the cinnamon, ginger, and mint can be diffused into the air to help kill germs and clear sinuses.
9. Hot Shower or Bath
Sometimes this is really all it takes to clear things up in the morning to get you going. I have never been sick and not felt at least a little better after a hot bath or shower. For baths adding epsom salt, lemon, mint, or eucalyptus will give you even a little more relief. It will allow you to breath them in and absorb their nutrients through your skin.
10. Saline, Mist, or Neti Pot
These have the ability to clear out your sinuses and shove antiseptic treatment right to the source. Saline mist is the easiest of these three and the only one I would recommend for children. Some older children may be able to use the neti pot, however some adults even have a really hard time using this one. There are a couple of kinds of neti pots on the market and are available at most any drug store. Basically with a neti pot you are pouring or shooting a warm water solution into one nostril and allowing it to flow out the other.
Gargling warm salt water is probably the most popular of gargles. You could also gargle with warm water and ONE of the following: baking soda, lemon juice, crushed garlic, or mint. There are some warm water and essential oil blends that can also be gargled as long as the oils you are using are food safe. For this drops of any of the following will work: peppermint (only use 1 drop), eucalyptus (5 or 6 drops), oregano (1 drop), tea tree (2-5 drops), sage (2 drops), garlic (2 drops), ginger (2 drops), or lemon (2 drops)
12. Lymphatic Drainage Massage
This one is kind of new to me. Here is a link to a youtube video that I watched to teach myself how to do it. What you are doing with this is massaging the drainage passageways of the lymph system to encourage the funk to move around and hopefully out of your body.
13. Eat Healthy
When you are down and out, it's really tempting to grab whatever is quick and handy. However, if you put crap in... I don't really need to go on here. Simply put, the better you eat, the quicker you should feel better. If you are not knowledgeable on nutrition, there are a variety of pamphlets, infomercials, books, and websites that are easy to find. Just google proper nutrition and a few of your symptoms.
This is a no brainer. Your body can't heal if you don't allow it to rest.
15. Warmer, Cleaner Air
Over several weeks, my family used all of the above suggestions and did gain some comfort from them. Some may cure you some of the time, obviously none are a cure all of the time or we would have all felt better much quicker. What eventually did the trick to get us well again was week long trip trip south to grandma's house. The clean, warm air of the rural south turned out to be the best medicine for our sick lungs.
The girls walking to creek to get water for fresh picked flowers on our trip to grandma's.
John getting a breathing treatment for bronchus. I was pregnant with Ember at the time, no breathing treatments for pregos.
Little Cameron's x-ray.