Home Remedies for the Flu
Every fall and winter, the flu virus spreads around the United States. For many, the illness can just result in feeling terrible for a few days, but for some, it can lead to dangerous complications. While the recommended first line of defense against the flu is always receiving the yearly vaccine, it unfortunately may not prevent all strains. Influenza does not have a cure, but supporting your immune system and managing symptoms will help your body fight off the virus and help you get through.
What to Do When You Have the Flu
Influenza does not have a cure, but supporting your immune system and managing symptoms at home will help your body fight off the virus and help you get through.
- Stay Home. When you know you have the flu, stay home. It may be difficult to put life on hold, especially if you feel like it is simply a bad cold, but you are putting others at risk by spreading the virus. The flu is extremely contagious, so take some time and allow your body to relax.
- Stay Hydrated. Be sure to give your body plenty of fluids – everything from water to fruit juice, sports drinks, and even soup qualify. Keeping your body hydrated keeps mucus thin enough to cough up and spit out. If it becomes too thick, it can stay in the lungs and cause a more dangerous infection such as pneumonia.
- Relieve Symptoms With Medications. The flu generally comes with a fever and aches which you can easily treat with pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you have a rather annoying cough, expectorant medications will help loosen stubborn mucus, making it easier to clear your lungs. Scratchy throats and coughs can also be temporary calmed by sucking on a soothing lozenge. Before taking any over-the-counter medicine, be sure to consult with your doctor to ensure it is safe. Some treatments are not recommended with certain medical conditions, current prescriptions, or patient age.
- Let Moisture Help. Feeling stuffy is uncomfortable and can keep us from getting the rest we need no matter how tired we feel. Turn your bathroom into a steam room by running a hot shower with the door closed as it can help break up that congested feeling – just be sure to sit away from the water to avoid being burned. Dry winter air can also make a cough worse, so try running a mist humidifier or vaporizer for some relief. Saline drops can also be used in people of all ages to help safely clear mucus from the nose.
When to Call the Doctor
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, sometimes the flu can just become too much. The doctor will not be able to prescribe any antibiotics for the flu as they are ineffective against the viral infection, but they may be able to offer help to alleviate discomfort. If you see your doctor right when your symptoms begin, you may be able to take an antiviral medication to help shorten the duration of the infection.
Any of the following symptoms warrant a visit to the doctor right away:
- An earache or drainage from the ear
- Pain in the face or forehead accompanied by thick yellow or green mucus that continues for over a week
- A fever of 100.4 F or higher in an infant under 3 months of age
- A fever of 102 F or higher in older children or adults
- A sore throat or cough that will not go away
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Any worsening or persistent symptoms
If you or someone you know with the flu experiences trouble breathing, increased shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, a seizure, fainting, a baby displaying extreme fussiness, or trouble waking, call 911 right away.
The flu virus can be tough to battle, and sometimes, home remedies just won’t provide you the relief you need. If you are unsure that you have the flu, or are looking for some symptom relief, visit one of our convenient Midwest Express Clinic locations today.