by Donna Gregory Burch
Posted 1/26/18

Life with chronic Lyme disease is tough enough; coming down with a cold or the flu adds yet another level of misery. And while there are some in the Lyme community who never get a cold or the flu, I am not one of them.

It’s practically guaranteed that if I come into contact with someone who is sick, I’ll catch it. And then I spend the next two weeks hacking and blowing, whereas an otherwise healthy person recovers in three days. I’m always proactive about preventive measures, but considering this year’s flu season is so bad, I’m being even more diligent.

For instance, when out in public, I frequently wash my hands or use hand sanitizer, and I try to avoid places where germs tend to congregate, like doctors’ offices, hospitals, and schools. At home, I regularly sanitize germy hot spots, such as light switches, doorknobs and remote controls. And I take adaptogenic herbs such as Chinese skullcap, reishi mushroom, and cordyceps to support my immune system.

Unfortunately, these safeguards don’t always work, and I end up catching a bug—usually from my husband, who insists on kissing me even when he’s sick! So, I also prepare for the worst. Each winter I keep a stash of things that I’ve found provide me comfort and even seem to speed my recovery, and pair them with a few tried-and-true soothing habits. Here’s what’s on my list:

1.Electrolyte drinks

I really like Electrolyte Stamina’s Power Pak, which is similar to Airborne or Emergen-C, but the ingredients are a little cleaner. For those who aren’t a fan of ascorbic acid, a whole-food vitamin C supplement would probably work, too.

2. Ginger tea

It warms the body from within, and is soothing for sore throat and digestive issues.

3. Honey

Taking a spoonful of honey coats the throat and reduces coughing. Some claim it works better than store-bought cough syrup.

4. Chicken soup

Traditional chicken noodle soup is off limits for those of us who are gluten-free, but I found a really good alternative while fighting my last cold: Pacific Organic Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. It’s gluten-free, has clean ingredients, and is the best store-bought soup I’ve ever eaten.

5. Salt

My mom used to swear that gargling with salt water relieves a sore throat. And one Japanese study found that making it a regular habit helped prevent upper respiratory tract infections. I’ve never tested my mom’s claim, but I keep a good quality sea salt in my pantry should the need ever arise.

6. Nasal irrigation kit

Rinsing the nasal passages with a saline solution has been shown to help prevent nasal symptoms of common cold such as a runny or blocked nose, and there’s some evidence that doing it at the beginning of a cold may shorten its duration. The Neti Pot is a popular irrigator; I found a knockoff (called a Yeti Pot) at my local Dollar Tree. Drugstores sell the saline rinse packets, or you can make your own. I make sure to use distilled water for safety.

7. Lots and lots of tissues

Even though they’re more expensive, I always buy the tissues with lotion because they don’t irritate my nose as much. I use this hack for easy cleanup when I’m too wiped out to walk to the trash can.

8. Stay hydrated

Drinking a lot of liquids helps the body flush out a virus more quickly. Steam from warm liquids like ginger tea or broth can assist in breaking up a stuffy nose.

9. Take a hot shower or bath

It’s great for chasing away the chills and detoxing, plus the steam helps loosen chest and/or head congestion.

10. Do infrared sauna

It can reduce the achiness of the flu, and there’s also some evidence that raising one’s core body temperature may help fight cold and flu viruses.

What’s your best remedy for cold or flu? Share the ones you swear by with us on Facebook!

Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. She was later diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Donna covers news, treatments, research, and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia and Lyme on her blog, You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.