9 Home Remedies to Relieve Flu Symptoms

Most people with the flu do not need to see the doctor or take a medication. They do need to stay home and recover. Here are 9 home remedies that can help.

home remedies to relieve flu symptoms

You should have one or more of these flu remedies in your medicine cabinet before the flu or that cold hits you.

© Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com

Flu is a viral upper respiratory tract infection that can usually be diagnosed by its symptoms. Flu symptoms start suddenly and include fever, chills, cough, congestion, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. According to the CDC, most people do not need to see a doctor or take medication. They should recover at home and avoid contact with others. [1]

However, for some people flu can be deadly. In any given flu season, flu may kill up to 49,000 people in the United States. [2] People at high risk are young children, adults age 65 or older, pregnant women, and people with long-term (chronic) diseases like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. [1]

If you are in a high-risk group, you should call your doctor at the first signs of flu. You may need an antiviral drug to prevent serious complications like pneumonia. This medication works best when started within two days of flu symptoms. [1]

If you are recovering at home, what are the best home flu remedies to ease your recovery? Unfortunately, according to the National Institutes of Health, there is no strong evidence that any natural product is useful against the flu. [2] However, there are some tried and true home remedies that can help relieve flu symptoms. [1-4]

9 Home Remedies to Relieve Flu Symptoms

1. Drink plenty of fluids.

Staying hydrated is one of the most important ways to manage flu. [1,4] It can reduce congestion and prevent dehydration. Avoid fluids like alcohol and caffeinated drinks that can increase urination and make dehydration worse. The best fluids are water, clear broth, or juice. [3]

2. Get enough sleep and rest.

Rest is the other most important thing to do for flu. Resting helps your immune system fight the flu. [1-4]

3. Sooth a sore throat with salt water gargles.

Warm, salted water can reduce inflammation and break up mucous coating your throat. Dissolve one-fourth and one-half teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. You can also use ice chips to sooth your throat and increase hydration. [3]

4. Use a saline nasal spray.

Try an over-the-counter saline nasal spray to reduce nasal congestion. [3]

5. Try acetaminophen.

Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve pain and fever. Remember that aspirin is dangerous for children under 6 months of age. [1]

6. Drink tea

Try some hot, decaffeinated tea with honey. This may sooth your throat and reduce a scratchy throat and cough. [3]

7.  Eat a light diet.

A light diet could include a warm, heathy soup, like chicken soup which may be southing, hydrating, and nourishing. [2,3]

8. Add moisture to the air in your house.

Using a vaporizer or humidifier can make the mucous in your nose and chest loose and make it easier to clear. You can also get the same result with a hot shower. [3]

9. Get a recommendation from your doctor.

Ask your doctor about an over-the-counter cough or cold medication to relieve flu symptoms. These remedies may be helpful for adults and children over age 5. [3]

When to See a Doctor for Flu Symptoms

Watch out for flu symptoms that indicate an emergency. If you have these symptoms, get medical help right away:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent belly or chest pain
  • Seizure
  • Not having to pass urine (a sign of dehydration)
  • Severe muscle pain, weakness, or cough
  • Worsening of a chronic medical condition [1]

Flu usually lasts about 5 to 7 days. [4] The best treatment for flu is rest and fluids. Finally, remember to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone and get your flu shot every year. [1]



  1. CDC, Influenza (Flu) | CDC
  2. NIH, 5 Tips: Natural Products for the Flu and Colds: What Does the Science Say? | NCCIH (nih.gov)
  3. Cleveland Clinic, Influenza (Flu) Management and Treatment | Cleveland Clinic
  4. Harvard Health, How long does the flu last? – Harvard Health

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Chris Iliades, MD

Dr. Chris Iliades is board-certified in Ear, Nose and Throat and Head and Neck Surgery from the American Board of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. He holds a medical … Read More

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