Man-Flu? Be a Fighter With Our Tips!

[Image - Dominik Martin]
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

As a dad, you don’t have the time to lie in bed recovering or mope round the house when the winter flu strikes. Whether your little one is a baby, toddler or child, try out these tips to help you push on through and get things done.

We all know what it’s like when your head is thumping, your nose is blocked, you can’t stop sneezing and you feel like you’re about to cough up a lung. We also know that men tend to exaggerate symptoms, so if man-flu has you in a death-grip and the world has been plunged into eternal darkness, here are some simple remedies you can use alongside your dad duties!

(Please note, expectant dads should not give these to their pregnant partner as some herbal remedies can be dangerous during pregnancy and she will require different advice to you in this area.)

Tea and Sympathy

There are some great herbal teas out there to help with a cold. Liquorice tea, made from the root, has long been used for catarrh-related illnesses. It soothes a sore throat, loosens bronchial congestion and reduces inflammation. Add a spoonful of honey, a brilliant natural antiseptic, to sweeten and drink this mixture at least 3 times a day. It can really help.

Ginger tea is also helpful, especially if you feel a chill alongside your cold! It warms the lungs, relieves pain and has a calming effect. To make the tea yourself, simmer a piece of ginger root on the stove for 15 minutes or add two teaspoons of powdered ginger to boiling water. You can add some lemon juice as an antiseptic to reduce phlegm and for Vitamin C; a great symptom fighting combination.

Cut the coffee

Caffeine is really best avoided when you have a cold – pretty annoying because you were hoping those 6 coffees would be just the thing to help you through the day. Not only have studies found that caffeine can contribute to dehydration, but it also suppresses your immune system. The results showed heavy caffeine drinkers (4+ cups a day) developing more colds than those who avoided caffeine and also longer lasting illness in those who continued to drink caffeine throughout the duration of their cold/flu type virus.

Caffeine also causes ‘crashes’ and stops people being able to recognise tiredness. It can disrupt sleep and cause restlessness and waking before the body is ready. If you can avoid it completely, that is best, if not then you should only be drinking about 2 mugs a day (even when well).

Switch off to relax

Give yourself time before bed that isn’t staring at a screen. Lots of dads (and mums) like to relax in front of a screen, be it catching up on the new series of I’m a Celebrity or playing Halo, but when you have a cold, this isn’t the best idea. Research shows that not only does staring at a screen up until you go to bed affect your ability to sleep, but it also affects your quality of sleep.

Your sleep cycles are stunted, which means that healing stage of sleep is reduced having a negative impact on your immune system. Your mood is also likely to feel lower because your REM sleep is cut short, meaning your mind has less time to distress and figure out the emotions you’re feeling in your waking life. Neither of these are conducive to helping a cold, which can make you feel down and tired anyway, so pick up a book, do some drawing or take a long bath instead. You should be having an hour to wind down that doesn’t involve screens if you want your cold to go!

Give it Thyme

No really, pour boiling water over two teaspoons of dried thyme and leave it to steep for 10 minutes. Thyme really helps with your cough, so before bed is a great time to do this one! It soothes the nasal passages and throat, where the irritation causing the cough is created. It works by relaxing the tracheal and ileal muscles while reducing inflammation. If you’re really struggling with a chesty cough, try it in conjunction with sleeping slightly upright (propped up with pillows) to help you to breathe more easily.

Stop sniffing

Whenever possible, try to blow your nose rather than sniff and if you cough something up then spit it out (we shouldn’t have to say but down the toilet, not on the pavement!) discreetly. All that gunk is blocking your sinuses and lungs and prolonging the symptoms, if you sniff it back up or swallow it, you are re-ingesting all the germ-filled stuff. Get it out and clear your airways! This helps to avoid infection and relieve symptoms.

Tiger Balm

This stuff is wonderful for relieving headaches when rubbed on your temples, but can also be used as an inhalation to clear your sinuses. Simply dissolve some in a bowl of hot water and lean over it with a towel covering your head. You may want to close your eyes as they can start watering a bit too. Vicks or similar can also be used in this way. It should loosen up the congestion and allow you to blow it out, helping with stuffiness and headaches.