Are you or someone in your house sick with the flu? There’s no cure, but there are some natural ways to ease your symptoms. Give these a try today.
1. Stay home and get plenty of rest.
Mind your flu manners. On the first day you have symptoms, call your work or school and tell them you won’t be coming in for a few days. You’re sick — and very contagious! Take advantage of downtime and give your body some much-needed rest. Curl up on the couch and spend some time reading, watching DVDs, or just cat-napping while your body battles the virus.
2. Drink plenty of fluids.
Make sure you get more liquids. It doesn’t all have to be water — fruit juices, sports drinks, and broth-based soups (like chicken noodle soup) also count. They keep your respiratory system hydrated and help turn that nasty, thick mucus into a thin liquid you can cough up and spit out. That’s good — if it builds up in your lungs it could lead to an infection.
3. Treat aches and fever.
Got fever? That’s because your body has turned up the heat to fight off the flu virus.
Treat it and the aches that come with it with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Ask your doctor which is right for you.
Never give aspirin to anyone younger than 19. It’s linked to a condition known as Reye’s syndrome, a serious illness that can damage the brain and liver.
4. Take care of your cough.
Over-the-counter treatments can calm your hack. Try an expectorant, which turns mucus into liquid so you can cough it up. Don’t give over-the-counter cough or cold medicine to children under 4.
5. Sit in a steamy bathroom.
If you’re still stuffed up, sit in the bathroom with the door closed. Let the shower run hot until the room fills with moist steam. Sit away from the water to avoid burns.
6. Run the humidifier.
If the air in your house is dry, a mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten it to help ease congestion and coughs. Don’t use a warm mist because it can promote the growth of bacteria and molds. Also, make sure to keep the device clean to prevent mold development.
7. Try a lozenge.
Sucking on soothing lozenges will moisten and coat a scratchy throat. It may quiet your cough, too.
8. Get salty.
Saline nose drops or sprays are available over-the-counter at any drug or grocery store. They work, they’re safe — even for kids. Put several drops into one nostril, and gently blow the mucus and saline out. Repeat the process on the other side until both are unblocked.
9. Ask for an antiviral.
You take these drugs as soon as symptoms start. They can lessen and shorten the flu. Call your doctor if you have signs of the flu and are at a higher risk for complications. That includes people who are 65 and older or those younger than 2 years of age. It also includes those with certain chronic conditions including problems with lungs, heart, kidney, liver, or a weak immune system. Native Americans and Alaska Natives are also at higher risk for complications.
The CDC recommends baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza), oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), or zanamivir (Relenza). The drugs work best when you get them within 48 hours of your first symptoms. They may shorten the time you are sick and make your symptoms milder if you take the medicine early on. Some you take for 5 days and the newer one, baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza), is just a single dose. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) can also help prevent the flu in someone who has been exposed.
Also, call the doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Earache or drainage from your ear
- Pain in your face or forehead along with thick yellow or green mucus for more than a week
- A temperature 100.4 F or higher in an infant less than 3 months of age
- Temperature higher than 102 F in older children or adults
- Hoarseness, sore throat, or a cough that won’t go away
- Shortness of breath
- Symptoms that get worse or won’t go away
Call 911 for trouble breathing or increased shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, seizure, fainting, extreme fussiness in a baby, or trouble waking.
Don’t bother to ask for antibiotics. They only work against infections caused by bacteria. The flu is a viral infection. WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 02, 2019
Mayo Clinic: “Flu Shot: Your best shot for avoiding influenza.”
CDC: “Good Health Habits for Prevention.”
CDC: “Key Facts About Antiviral Drugs and Influenza (Flu).”
American Academy of Family Physicians: “Tips for Treating the Flu.”
CDC: “What to do if you get the flu.”
CDC: “Flu and Colds.”
National Jewish Medical & Research Center: “Getting Well When You Have a Cold or the Flu.”
American Lung Association: “Influenza Fact Sheet.”
American Lung Association: “Treatment for Influenza.”
MedlinePlus: “Common Cold.” © 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.