To understand the nature of upper respiratory tract infections and the home remedies that work against them, it is important to understand the structure of the respiratory tract.

Structurally, the tract is divided into two: the upper tract and the lower tract. The upper respiratory tract consists of the mouth, the nose, the sinuses, the throat, voice box and the windpipe. The lower respiratory tract on the other hand, is made up of the lungs and the bronchial tubes.

woman drinking water

In listing the home remedies for the management of upper respiratory tract infections, it is vital to point out that most of the infections in this region are viral and a few bacterial. What this means is that it may be tricky getting antiviral medication for these infections, and this is where the home remedies come in.

Natural treatment aims at making the symptoms more manageable and assisting the body’s capacity to fight off the infections. Some of the common symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection include a runny nose, the common cold, post-nasal drip as well as coughing. In some cases that affect the voice box, one may experience a hoarse voice.

NOTE: While it may be difficult to separate the symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection from those of influenza, it helps to note that the latter often causes symptoms across the whole body. These include chills, fever and general body fatigue. An infection in the upper respiratory tract on the other hand, produces localized symptoms affecting the aforementioned parts.

 1. Expose Yourself to Moist Air:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Steamed air (using a hot shower) or hot water in a basin and a clean towel. Eucalyptus oil is an optional addition.
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate


When one has an upper respiratory tract infection, the oral and nasal passages become very dry and are easily irritated. This not only makes breathing harder, it also prolongs the period of recovery from coughing and from a runny nose. Moist air helps to manage the symptoms so that breathing is easier.
The moist air also helps loosen the nasal blockage and aid in the elimination of excessive nasal secretions. There are two ways to use this remedy: a hot shower or a basin containing hot water. Eucalyptus oil may be added for its potent decongestant properties. Follow the simple directions below to help treat the symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection.

NOTE: This remedy is not recommended for young children, senior citizens and those with conditions that affect their nervous system. This is done to prevent injuries resulting from the hot water.


Using a Hot Shower:

  1. First ensure that the bathroom windows are closed to prevent the cold air from coming in.
  2. You will then run the hot shower without standing under the running water.
  3. The idea here is to allow the steam to accumulate and surround you so that you are able to breathe with ease.
  4. Take deep breaths of the steamed air to reduce the irritation of the nasal passages and ease the discomfort.
  5. Do this severally until you get relief from the infection.

Using a Basin filled with Hot Water:

  1. This option is a handy choice for moments when you do not want to step into the shower.
  2. Simply fill the basin with boiling hot water, taking care not to scald yourself.
  3. You may add eucalyptus oil at this point for its healing purposes.
  4. Lean over the basin and drape a towel over your head.
  5. This is done to trap and contain the steam around your face.
  6. Bend over slightly to allow the nasal passage exposure to the steam.
  7. Take care not to come too close to the surface of the water as the hot steam may cause burns on the face.
  8. Take deep breaths to inhale the steam, hold for a few minutes and then exhale.
  9. Repeat this procedure until the water cools down and steam production ends.
  10. In addition to this remedy, it helps to use a vaporizer that increases humidity in the room and gets rid of dry air.


2. Warm Saline Water:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1/2 Teaspoon of salt, 2 cups of warm water and a bulb syringe or small spray bottle. Alternatively, use store-bought saline water.
Difficulty: Easy


When it comes to infections targeting the upper respiratory tract, warm saline water works like a charm in alleviating the symptoms of the condition. The warmth of the remedy eases the inflammation and irritation of the nasal passages while the presence of the salt helps fight off the infection. The salt also breaks down the mucus so that it is easy to get rid of and help relieve the discomfort that accompanies upper respiratory tract infections. You only need a small amount of the salt; do not go overboard here as the excess salt will irritate the passages and have the opposite of the intended effect.

NOTE: The golden rule when preparing this remedy is to ensure that you use sterile water. If this is not possible, boil water and then let it cool down before preparing this remedy.


  1. Use the warm water to first rinse the bulb syringe and flush away any invisible foreign objects. This is important so that when you put the salty water in the syringe, the remedy remains unaffected.
  2. Take the salt and add it to the warm water before stirring to dissolve.
  3. Suck some of the warm salty water using the bulb syringe and apply to one nostril at a time.
  4. Tilt your head backwards and cover one nostril with the other hand.
  5. Flush the nostril with the saline water and hold that position for a few minutes.
  6. Do the same for the other nostril.
  7. Use this remedy at least twice daily to manage upper respiratory tract infections.
  8. In line with this remedy, gargling salty water has also been shown to provide relief from infections that target the different parts of the upper respiratory tract. This water not only soothes the throat, it also prevents irritation.


3. Use a Warm Compress:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A clean towel and a basin with hot water.
Difficulty: Easy


Infections of the upper respiratory tract often cause symptoms such as headaches, a runny nose and general discomfort. Use a warm compress to manage these symptoms and get relief from the infection. The warmth of the compress goes a long way in alleviating the runny nose and soothing the nasal membranes. The advantage of using a warm compress is that it has no side effects, and is therefore recommended for everyone.


  1. Soak the clean towel in the hot water for a few minutes.
  2. Squeeze the excess water and pat the wet towel on the forehead for symptomatic relief.
  3. Place the warm compress on your forehead for a few minutes.
  4. When the compress cools down, you may repeat steps 1 and 2 for as long as you need to get relief.


4. Stay Hydrated:

Time Required: Spread throughout the day.
What You Need: Adequate amounts of drinking water. You may use fresh fruit juice as a substitute.
Difficulty: Easy


Staying hydrated is very important when one has an upper respiratory tract infection. This is for the simple reason that dehydration leads to further irritation of the nasal passages and prolongs the period of recovery. When considering the amount if water you need to take daily, it is important to factor in different aspects of one’s lifestyle. These include physical activity levels, pre-existing conditions especially those that affect the kidney as well as the use of certain medication. Consequently, the amount of water one needs to take will vary across the board. Fresh juices are an excellent addition to this natural treatment.


  1. Take adequate drinking water during the day. Remember to add freshly prepared fruit juices for a healthy perk.
  2. Do not include any sugar or additives in the fruit juice as increased sugar levels may lead to inflammation.

NOTE: You may add fresh cucumber slices to your drinking water to make the taste refreshing.


5. Chicken Soup:

Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Hot chicken soup.
Difficulty: Easy


Turns out the old age remedy of using chicken soup to treat upper tract respiratory infections is effective of studies are anything to go by. According to these studies, chicken soup strengthens the body to fight off the infection by providing adequate nutrients that power the immune system. In addition to this, the warmth of the soup also helps loosen up mucus and reduce the discomfort of a runny nose. Get a bowl of warm soup to keep the infection at bay.


  1. Enjoy a bowl of warm chicken soup to treat the infections.


6. Improve Your Diet:

Time Required: Varies depending on the foods to be prepared.
What You Need: A balanced diet alongside a steady supply of Vitamin C fruits and vegetables.
Difficulty: Easy


The essence of a balanced diet in treating infections of the upper respiratory fact revolves around providing the nutrients required by the body for optimal cell function. This is imperative because it improves the immune response and helps fight off the viruses and bacteria responsible for the infection. What’s more, a balanced diet helps ensure there are no mineral deficiencies that sometimes contribute to a weak immune response. Citrus fruits are recommended too because the presence of Vitamin C is known to impact the efficiency of the immune system altogether.


  1. Ensure that you eat a balanced diet daily.
  2. Add a healthy dose of citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines, limes and lemons.
  3. In line with this, it is important to eliminate ‘inflammation foods’. These are foods that trigger inflammation in the body and slow down recovery. Common foods in this category include processed/junk food, wheat and foods rich in salt. It is also advisable to go slow on the caffeinated beverages and caffeinated drinks as this aggravate the symptoms of the infection.


7. Raw Ginger Tea:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1/2 inch of raw ginger, 1 cup of hot water, strainer and raw organic honey.
Difficulty: Easy


Raw ginger tea is recommended for the natural treatment of infections that target the upper respiratory tract. Ginger is a spicy herb that packs up just the right amount of warmth to ease the symptoms of the infection. Gingerols present in the herb are anti-inflammatory in nature, which helps deal with the inflammation caused by the infection. This in turn, eases the congestion in the nasal passages, which is a great reliever. Additionally, the reduced swelling enables mucus to flow easily out of the nose for much-needed relief.

Honey on the other hand, has excellent anti-viral and antibacterial properties which come in handy in eliminating the infection-causing pathogens. Honey also coats the irritated throat and reduces the irritation experienced in the nasal passages. Raw organic honey is recommended for this remedy. The two remedies provide a potent remedy against upper respiratory tract infections.


  1. Peel and wash the raw ginger well.
  2. You may pound the ginger using a pestle and mortar to increase the surface area of the active ingredients.
  3. Place the crushed ginger in a cup of hot water and let it steep for 5 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture and stir in the honey.
  5. Drink this cup of ginger tea at least twice daily for speedy recovery.


The above remedies require consistent use for a couple of days for positive results. Consider making a medical appointment if the symptoms do not subside after a couple of weeks as this may be indicative of a more serious condition affecting the respiratory system.