Most cases of the flu are mild enough that you can treat yourself at home without prescription medications.
It’s important you stay home and avoid contact with other people when you first notice flu symptoms.
You should also:
- Drink plenty of fluids. This includes water, soup, and low-sugar flavored drinks.
- Treat symptoms such as headache and fever with OTC medications.
- Wash your hands to prevent spreading the virus to other surfaces or to other people in your house.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues. Immediately dispose of those tissues.
- Wear a face covering when in public.
If symptoms become worse, call your doctor. They may prescribe an antiviral medication. The sooner you take this medicine, the more effective it is. You should start treatment within 48 hours from when your symptoms start.
Contact your doctor as soon as symptoms appear if you’re at high risk for flu-related complications.
High-risk groups include:
- people with weakened immune systems
- women who are pregnant or up to 2 weeks postpartum
- people who are at least 65 years old
- children under 5 years old (in particular, those under age 2)
- people who live in chronic care facilities or nursing homes
- people who have chronic conditions, such as heart or lung disease
- people who are of Native American (American Indian or Alaska Native) descent
Your doctor may test for the flu virus right away. They may also prescribe an antiviral medication to prevent complications.
In the United States, the main flu season stretches from October to March. Cases of the flu peak between December and February, according to the CDC. But you can get flu at any time of the year.
You’re more likely to get sick during the fall and winter months. This is because you’re spending more time in close quarters with other people and are also exposed to lots of different illnesses.
You’re more likely to catch the flu if you already have a different virus. This is because other infections can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to new ones.
Having the flu is no fun. But remedies for flu symptoms are available, and many of them provide great relief.
Keep these treatments in mind if you have the flu:
- Pain relievers. Analgesics like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are often recommended to help ease symptoms. These include muscle aches and pains, headache, and fever.
- Decongestants. This type of medication can help relieve nasal congestion and pressure in your sinuses and ears. Each type of decongestant can cause some side effects, so be sure to read labels to find the one that’s best for you.
- Expectorants. This type of medication helps loosen thick sinus secretions that make your head feel clogged and cause coughing.
- Cough suppressants. Coughing is a common flu symptom, and some medications can help relieve it. If you don’t want to take medication, some cough drops use honey and lemon to ease a sore throat and cough.
Warning: Children and teens should never take aspirin for any illness. This is because of the risk of a rare but fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome.
Be careful not to mix medications. Using unnecessary medication could cause unwanted side effects. It’s best to take medicines that apply to your predominant symptoms.
In the meantime, get plenty of rest. Your body is fighting hard against the influenza virus, so you need to give it plenty of downtime. Call in sick, stay at home, and get better. Don’t go to work or school with a fever.
You should also drink plenty of fluids. Water, low-sugar sports drinks, and soup can help you stay hydrated. Warm liquids like soup and tea have the added benefit of helping ease pain from a sore throat.
Most people recover from the flu in about a week. But it may take several more days for you to feel back to your usual self. It’s not uncommon to feel tired for several days after your flu symptoms have subsided.
It’s important to stay home from school or work until you’ve been free of fever for at least 24 hours (and that’s without taking fever-reducing medications).
If you have the flu, it can be passed to another person a day before your symptoms appear and up to 5–7 days afterward.
If you have any cold or flu symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, you must isolate yourself while getting tested and continue to practice good hygiene such as:
- washing your hands
- disinfecting high-touch areas
- wearing a face covering
- avoiding contact with others
Precision Pain Care and Rehabilitation has two convenient locations in Richmond Hill – Queens and New Hyde Park – Long Island. Call the Richmond Hill office at (718) 215-1888, or (516) 419-4480 for the Long Island office, to arrange an appointment with our Interventional Pain Management Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Chacko.