Flu season is here, and if you catch it, you’ll likely be out of commission for several days with a fever, aches, sore throat, and cough. It’s unpleasant, and most people's schedules are too packed to stay in bed for a week.
What can you do to keep the flu from hitting your household? Although you don’t have complete control over whether you catch the flu, you can do a few things to prevent it. This includes good hand washing before eating, after using the bathroom, and anytime you touch a shared surface like a door handle, shopping cart, or ATM. And get your flu shot. Nearly everyone over the age of six months who doesn’t have an allergy to the vaccine should get the flu shot.
But even despite good handwashing and vaccination, there’s a chance you or a family member could get the flu. To help your body heal quickly, do these things at home:
- Call your physician. If it’s early enough in the illness and you are at high risk for complications, you could be prescribed an antiviral medication that can help shorten the duration and severity of your symptoms. These medications are not antibiotics, which do not help with the flu or other viral illnesses. Although it’s technically not a home remedy, it’s something that could help you get better, faster.
- Start drinking fluids. Water, herbal tea, or any non-caffeinated fluids will help your body flush out the virus more efficiently. If your child is sick, help them get adequate fluids and watch for signs of dehydration.
- Try chicken soup. If your stomach isn’t upset, chicken broth or soup can help you fight off an illness like the flu. Studies have shown that it has an anti-viral effect.
- Rest. Your body needs rest in order to use its energy for fighting the flu. If you’re up and walking around — or worse, going to work — your recovery will be much slower. Not to mention, you should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone to minimize spreading it to others.
- Use salt water. You can purchase saltwater nasal sprays over the counter which can help relieve congestion and help your body get rid of the virus. You can also gargle warm salt water to provide temporary sore throat relief.
- Try an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If body aches and sore throat are bothering you, these can provide some relief.
- Use hot and cold to your advantage. If your sinuses are achy or congested, try taking a warm shower or bath, or putting a hot washcloth on your face for a few minutes. But if you’re burning up with fever, you might enjoy a cooler bath or a cold washcloth on your forehead.
If you catch the flu despite your best efforts to avoid it, take good care of yourself as your body heals. The more you rest and allow your body to do its work, the better you’ll feel.
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Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.