Believe it or not, it is still flu season. It tapers off in April but for now, knowing how to get rid of the flu can help keep you healthy during this time period. Although it is not always feasible to rid yourself of the flu overnight, there are certain things that you can do that not only help prevent catching the flu but rid yourself of the inconvenience faster. In our everyday busy lives, reducing symptoms and getting back to your normal routine is always the first priority. We’re here to help you understand how to get over the flu once you’ve got it.
What Is the Flu?
Let’s start with understanding what the flu is. The flu also referred to as influenza, is a common and contagious viral infection and respiratory illness that ranges from mild to severe. The Center for Disease Control notes that eight percent of the American population gets the flu annually which reflects over 26 million people. It’s estimated that over 31 million people visit the doctor every year for the flu and over 200,000 are hospitalized. The flu is rarely fatal but does account for up to 49,000 flu-related deaths each year. Although certain months are considered part of the flu season, you can get the flu anytime. These seasonal viruses have been detected year-round but increased cases have been reported between October and February. Medical experts believe that the flu is spread through droplets that are created by the illness and land in the mouths or noses of others close to the infected person. Other less common ways of flu transfer are by touching a surface or object of something with the flu virus on it and touching your mouth, eyes, or nose. The flu can spread up to six ft! It is much easier and faster to catch than you may realize. Here’s how fast it happens:
- 24 hours – You can infect others for 24 hours before you start to experience symptoms.
- 5 – 7 days – This is the length of time after getting sick that you can still transfer the virus to others.
- 2 days – This is the length of time between being exposed to the flu virus and experiencing symptoms of your own.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms?
Staying flu-free is the key. However, if you’ve been infected, you’re going to experience many uncomfortable symptoms. You’ll experience any of the symptoms listed below or all at once:
- fever/ feeling feverish / chills
- Muscle and body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
There are preventative steps that you should take during the cold and flu season. There’s a good reason your doctor always asks you if you’ve had your flu shot. They do work! Medical experts agree that the flu vaccine is the most effective way to boost your body’s immune system and train it to fight off the flu virus. This is how to get rid of the flu before it even tries. The flu vaccine contains inactivated flu viruses that protect you against three-four strains so if you do catch the virus, it will drastically decrease symptoms. It takes two whole weeks for your body to develop the antibodies after getting the flu shot and it is recommended these vaccines begin as early as six months. The flu vaccine reduces your chances of catching the flu by 40 – 60%. According to the Center for Disease Control, three million doses of flu vaccine were shipped during the 2017 – 2018 period.
How to Cure the Flu Fast
Now that you know how to prevent it, do you know how to get over the flu? The key to recovering from the flu fast is to act fast. It’s going to take some effort and a doctor’s visit for more severe cases. There are steps you can take at home to ease the symptoms, get some relief, and get back to doing what you do best. This is what to do when you have the flu:
- Rest, rest, rest – We can’t stress this enough! Be kind yourself and put away your superhero cape for a few days. You need to give your body’s immune system time to recover. Sleep is the best way to let your body rebuild and rebound.
- Fluids, fluids, fluids – Did we mention you should drink plenty of fluids? Well, there’s a reason why you feel dehydrated while experiencing the flu. When you feel feverish, you’re sweating and experiencing a runny nose on a regular basis. Your appetite may decrease as well and your body is losing a lot of important fluids in this process. Drinking fluids also helps your body break up the mucus in your nose, relieving congestion and replenishing your fluid tank to ensure your body functions properly. The best fluids to drink include water, juice, ginger or herbal tea, ginger ale, and broth. It’s best to avoid milk, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Medication – For less severe cases, over the counter medication is sufficient for how to get rid of the flu without much hassle. There are plenty of effective options available to help with congestion, fever, and the many other symptoms that you can find at your local drugstore. If symptoms still persist and your fever lasts longer than three days or reaches 103 F or higher, visit your doctor. If your fever is accompanied by severe headaches, severe throat swelling, mental confusion, unusual skin rash, or persistent vomiting, see your doctor. An antiviral prescription may be necessary to end your symptoms.
Antiviral medication can be lifesaving for those most vulnerable like pregnant women, young children, and the elderly. The flu typically lasts for up to a week but medications can literally shave off at least one day. It’s important to remember that influenza is a virus so no there is no cure for it. Antibiotics are not effective and it’s best to just wait out the flu by managing the symptoms. Those with a milder case of the flu will see quicker results.
Diet & Lifestyle
Now that you know what to do if you have the flu, knowing how to get over the flu with the right diet and lifestyle is the next step. Making good choices for what goes into your body will make a significant difference in how to get rid of the flu virus. When you were young, your parents may have told you to eat chicken soup and eat plenty of fruit when you were sick with a cold or flu. This was great advice! Healthy eating is an important component of what to do if you have the flu since your appetite will decrease. Replenishing your body with immune-boosting foods will help relieve congestion and other symptoms.
What you may not know is that chicken soup has been scientifically proven to help relieve cold and flu symptoms. It has been shown to reduce inflammation which also leads to reduced congestion. Your parents were on to something and it is not just an old wives’ tale! Spicy foods act in the same way that chicken soup does by helping to relieve blocked sinuses.
Eating foods rich in vitamin E and C can strengthen your immune system. These foods include salmon, oranges, tomatoes, yogurt, broccoli, collards, Brussels sprouts, blueberries, and tuna. Those foods that contain selenium are also part of a healthy flu diet like eggs, lamb, chicken, and shrimp. Consuming softer foods will make it easier to swallow as well.
Our Cold and Flu Management Services
Our board-certified physicians, seasoned medical staff, and high-quality medical network understand that most people confuse the similar symptoms of the common cold and flu. The flu is much more serious and is typically accompanied by fever and chills that can eventually develop into pneumonia, bronchitis, or ear and sinus infections. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, request an appointment today.