We've all been there. You're stuck at home, draped in a blanket and miserable because of flu symptoms. While the only thing you can do to cure the flu is let it run its course, there are some home remedies you could try that might help.
Rest and Stay Hydrated
The flu takes a lot out of you: namely sleep, energy, and fluids, all of which will be in high demand as you fight off the illness. This means you need to take extra steps to ensure your body is strong enough to fight off the flu:
- Get adequate rest. Fighting the flu takes a lot of energy, and the only way to replenish that is by getting enough sleep. This means that even if you start feeling better, do not jump back into your regular routine. Wait until you are 100 percent before resuming your normal schedule.
- Drink plenty of fluids. It’s important to replenish fluids lost from sweat, urine, and decreased food intake to avoid becoming dehydrated. Drink lots of water, sip soup, and try different juices to change it up a bit. Caffeine has the tendency to dehydrate a body, so limit the intake of beverages that have caffeine as much as you can.
Ease Sore Throat Symptoms with a Salt Water Gargle
- Gargling with salt water can help alleviate the inflammation of a sore throat. In fact, mixing half a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water and gargling with that is likely better than anything you can get at the drugstore because it's natural and it's effective.
- Saltwater isn't the only thing that can help a sore throat. Eating raw honey, especially if it's local, not only soothes sore throats, but also helps with local allergies. Also try ice chips, over-the-counter sore throat sprays, lozenges, and hard candy.
- Try eating a hot pepper or other spicy food. This will open up your sinuses and relieve the pressure you're feeling in your head and nose.
- Steam can help alleviate stuffiness and congestion especially at night when it can get hard to sleep. Take a hot, steamy shower. Try a humidifier as well.
- Use pillows or a bed wedge to elevate your head, which allows mucus to drain and helps relieve pressure in nasal passages.
- Use over-the-counter allergy medications or saline nasal spray to ease stuffiness and post-nasal drip.
- Apply a vapor rub before bed to help open air passages to combat congestion.
- Use over-the-counter cold medicine for temporary relief of symptoms, but read labels and take only as directed.
Reduce Aches and Pains
- Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can reduce fever, headache, and body aches, but follow label instructions.
- Soothe achy muscles with a warm bath, hot water bottle, or heating pad.
Nothing about having the flu is fun, but with a good at home strategy, you might reduce symptoms and get relief quicker than by not doing anything. Influenza can be deadly so see a doctor if your voice becomes hoarse, you develop pains in your chest, or you have difficulty breathing.
Also, don’t look to antibiotics for help with the flu. They’re no help against flu viruses and contribute to the serious and growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Dr. Michelle Udayamurthy is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold. She cares for her patients at the Main Campus. She views the doctor-patient relationship as essential to good healthcare. Her clinical interest is preventive medicine.