If you are feeling under the weather, you don’t often have to look further than your kitchen or bathroom to find a natural remedy. For a sore throat, cough, stomach ache or headache, some simple home remedies may help to provide much-needed relief.
However, if you are concerned about prolonged symptoms or your pain is severe, it could be time to seek treatment from a doctor.
Here are simple tips to relieve symptoms of common illnesses, and how to know when you should see a doctor. (Please note that these remedies are recommended for adults and not children.)
How to soothe a sore throat or cough?
A scratchy throat or persistent cough can cause a fair amount of discomfort. Both also happen to be symptoms of the common cold.
You already know that drinking plenty of water and sucking on a lozenge provide relief from a sore throat, but did you know that gargling warm salt water may also help to reduce some of the swelling? Add half a teaspoon of salt to a full glass (240ml) and gargle up to 3 times a day.
For a bad cough, try eating a slice of pineapple or drinking 100ml of fresh pineapple juice 3 times a day. The fruit contains an enzyme called bromelain, which is thought to help suppress coughs and loosen mucus in your throat. Who knew?
When to see a doctor?
A sore throat or cough is usually a symptom of a mild condition, such as the common cold or hay fever. However, it can occasionally signify a more serious lung condition, such as pneumonia or asthma.
If your sore throat or cough persists for more than a week, or it is accompanied by a fever or swollen tonsils, consult a doctor.
How to relieve a stomach ache?
Stomach aches are extremely common and usually not a cause for concern. Possible triggers include indigestion, acid reflux and stomach infections.
Many individuals swear by eating ginger biscuits, taking ginger supplements or sipping ginger tea when they feel queasy.
The digestive benefits of ginger is no myth – a natural anti-inflammatory, ginger has been shown by many studies to be effective in relieving certain types of stomach ills.
A cup of chamomile tea may also help to relax tense stomach muscles and soothe cramps, while peppermint tea may help fix nausea and stomach pain, due to the menthol in its leaves being a natural pain reliever.
When to see a doctor?
A stomach ache is usually not serious, and symptoms should pass quickly. Prolonged stomach pain is more unusual and could be a sign of a larger problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, a gynaecological disorder or stomach ulcer.
If your pain or discomfort lasts for more than 2 weeks, consult a doctor.
How to ease a headache or migraine?
Headaches occur in the forehead, temples and back of the head, causing painful pressure or aching. Migraines are typically more intense and severe, and can cause pain behind one of your eyes or ears, sensitivity to light or sound, and nausea.
Wrap an ice pack in a cloth and apply it to the painful area, or take a warm shower. A gentle massage may also help to relieve some of the tension in your temples or neck. Maintain pressure for 7 – 15 seconds, then repeat.
If you have a migraine, inhaling lavender essential oil for 15 minutes may help to ease the pain. Apply it to the temples or breathe directly over the bottle.
When to see a doctor?
Generally, a headache is not an indicator of a severe medical disorder. However, you should consult a doctor if you experience sudden, severe pain, or if your headache is accompanied by:
- Weakness, dizziness or loss of balance
- Difficulty speaking
- Blurry vision
- Fever, shortness of breath, a stiff neck or rash
- Nausea or vomiting
It is also advisable to consult a doctor if you experience more than 3 headaches a week, or severe headaches that regularly interfere with your family or work life.
Article reviewed by Dr Othello Dave, deputy medical director at Parkway Hospitals
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