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Flu Treatment: Methods For Treating Flu Symptoms

How To Treat And Avoid The Flu

Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology Profile Photo

Written by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology on December 19, 2021

Anyone who has had the flu knows how terrible the illness can make you feel and how disruptive it can be to your normal routine.Flu season occurs during the colder months of the year – typically October through April or May in the northern hemisphere – and the highly contagious illness can cause a wide range of symptoms. If you find yourself sick, try these methods for flu treatment.

What Is Influenza, and How Does It Spread?

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious viral illness caused by the influenza family of viruses. The infection affects everyone differently and can range from mild to severe or even life-threatening for some individuals who are at a higher risk.

Flu spreads from person to person primarily through the air. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, they naturally release water vapor that can contain the virus in tiny amounts. These microscopic drops of water are then inhaled by people nearby, potentially infecting them with the flu. It is also possible to get the flu by touching a surface that an infected person has recently touched and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?

Flu viruses are commonly associated with a number of different symptoms affecting different areas of the body. Everyone experiences the flu somewhat differently, so the symptoms of flu infection in one individual may not exactly mirror those in another.

Common symptoms of the flu can include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue or feelings of extreme tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough and chest pain
  • Complications like pneumonia, especially in those with chronic medical conditions

It should be noted that not all individuals with the flu will experience a fever, although many people use a fever to differentiate between a cold and the flu. Additionally, each person’s symptoms can vary in severity.

What Are Methods For Treating Flu Symptoms?

If you do happen to find yourself sick with the flu, there are plenty of natural options for flu treatment. Because the flu is a viral illness, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Instead, it is typically allowed to run its course unless symptoms become severe or life-threatening. Most people who get the flu are able to recover at home using home remedies.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Your immune system needs plenty of fluids in order to effectively fight the flu virus, so it’s critical that you stay hydrated while you’re sick with the flu. The most effective way to hydrate is to take small sips of clear liquids like water, tea, or electrolyte drinks at regular intervals throughout the day. Gradually increased fluid intake also minimizes your risk of vomiting up fluid, which can happen when drinking large amounts at once.

Get Lots of Rest

When you’re sick, your immune system is hard at work fighting off the flu virus, which is part of why you feel so exhausted. You need to get lots of rest and sleep as much as possible when sick with the flu in order to conserve your energy and give your immune system time to clear the virus from your system. Spend as much time in bed as possible.

Try a Homeopathic Formula

You may be able to address flu symptoms using an organic homeopathic remedy. Homeopathy is an alternative medicine practice that uses naturally occurring ingredients to address various symptoms, including nasal congestion, fever, and body aches associated with the flu. Homeopathic remedies do not contain medication. These remedies may help you feel comfortable while you’re sick.

Gargle With Salt Water

Gargling with a warm salt water solution can help to soothe a sore throat and loosen mucus that clogs your throat and airways. It can also help to remove irritants from your throat, potentially helping to reduce a cough.

Try Some Chicken Soup

Your grandmother’s favorite remedy – a warm bowl of chicken soup – is also helpful as a flu treatment. Chicken soup has been shown to contain a compound called carnosine that may help support your immune system in the fight against the flu, particularly early on in your illness. The soup may also have anti-inflammatory effects on your throat, and the warmth of the soup can also be soothing to your throat while helping to reduce congestion.

Take a Hot Shower or Bath

There’s a reason why taking a hot shower or bath feels so good when you’re sick; it’s actually helping you to feel better. The steam from a hot shower or bath adds moisture to the nasal passages, helping to thin and loosen the mucus in the airways.

Thinner mucus is easier to cough up and the warm air also promotes drainage. As a result, you’re likely to get out of the bath feeling like you can breathe more easily.

If you’re feeling light-headed or weak from your illness, run the hot water in a bathroom with the door closed and simply sit in the steamy environment, inhaling deeply.

How Can You Prevent the Flu?

The best way to treat flu symptoms is to prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place. There are two primary ways toprevent the flu: get a flu vaccine and practice good hygiene.

Get a Flu Vaccine

Getting a flu vaccine from your healthcare provider is one of the most effective ways to prevent yourself from getting sick with the flu, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The flu vaccine is developed each year to specifically target the four strains of the influenza virus that research suggests will be the most common in the upcoming flu season. The flu season typically begins as the weather starts to get cooler, which is around October in the northern hemisphere. The flu vaccine typically becomes available in October and the CDC recommends that everyone aged six months and older be vaccinated.

In addition to helping prevent people from contracting the flu in the first place, the flu vaccine is also helpful in reducing the severity of the symptoms in people who do get the flu. This is especially important for individuals who are considered to be at increased risk of experiencing flu complications, including individuals who are very young, over the age of 65, pregnant, or experiencing health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and lung diseases like asthma.

Getting vaccinated also helps to reduce the burden on the healthcare system, which becomes increasingly strained during flu season.

Vaccination isn’t only important to keep you from getting sick with the flu; it also helps protect the people around you. Some individuals, including those under the age of 6 months and people who are immunocompromised, are unable to receive the flu vaccine but are considered at high risk of developing complications.

Getting vaccinated protects those who are unable to be vaccinated.

Practice Good Hygiene

It’s also important to practice good hygiene to help stop the spread of viruses like the flu. There are several guidelines to consider.

1. Avoid spending time around people who are sick as much as possible. If you are taking care of someone who is sick, make sure to wash your hands and disinfect common surfaces on a regular basis.

2. If you are sick, try to minimize the time you spend around other people in order to prevent them from getting sick.

3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue away after use and wash your hands.

4. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Spend at least 20 seconds at a time washing your hands. If you have difficulty estimating the amount of time that you should be washing your hands, try humming the happy birthday song twice.

5. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing, or touching common surfaces.

6. Try to avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes in order to minimize getting infected and spreading the virus.

7. If you are sick with the flu, avoid leaving your house for 24 to 48 hours after your fever is gone unless absolutely necessary. Make sure that your fever disappears on its own without the use of fever-reducing medicine before leaving the house.

Summary

The flu is a highly contagious disease caused by a family of viruses known broadly as influenza. Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent contracting the flu, but if you find yourself sick, natural remedies may help.

Try using an organic homeopathic remedy, getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of clear liquids, taking a hot shower, gargling salt water, and using a neti pot to help address flu symptoms naturally.

Be sure to seek medical attention if you experience any type of fever for more than a few days.



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