Is that throat tickle the start of a cold, the flu, COVID, or something else?
Flu season is here, so knowing the signs of the illness can help you get the appropriate flu treatment sooner. This is especially important for vulnerable populations — like those with asthma or other respiratory diseases — to ensure the flu doesn’t turn deadly.
In this post, you’ll learn the basic flu symptoms, what to do for flu treatment when you’re sick; if you need to go to the emergency room, and how long to ride it out before calling a doc.
Here’s to getting the flu treatment you need to feel better ASAP!
How Do I Know It’s the Flu?
With multiple COVID variants and other upper respiratory illnesses circling, it can be hard to know at the onset if you’re dealing with the flu or something else. The flu is a common viral infection that starts circulating in October and can stick around until as long as May.
Flu symptoms include:
- Eye pain
- Sore throat
- Aching muscles
- Chills and sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Dry, persistent cough
- Tiredness and weakness
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in kids than adults)
*Not everyone will have a fever when they get the flu
The flu invades the respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs) and isn’t the same as the stomach flu. At first glance, the flu may feel like a cold if you’re sneezing and dealing with a runny nose and sore throat. Colds are slow to develop, but the flu comes on rapidly.
What Should I Do When I Have the Flu?
The flu can drain energy levels quickly. Since it is an infection, it’s smart to rest up as much as possible to help the body fight it off sooner. Luckily, most people have mild illness experiences and don’t need antiviral drugs.
What to do if you’re sick with the flu:
#1: Stay Home
It’s important to note that the flu is contagious, so it’s wise to isolate yourself from other household members during the duration of your flu. This can reduce the chance of spreading it and keep other people in your house and community healthy.
Resting your body is paramount to a faster recovery. Sleep will boost your immune system and help you combat the illness more effectively. Listening to your body and getting plenty of rest is a must when ill. This is especially true if you’re running a low-grade fever. Stay hydrated and take as many naps as you need!
#3: Contact a Health Provider, If Needed
For those 65 and older, pregnant, or living with chronic health conditions, the flu can be more dangerous. Remember, it’s possible to have COVID-19 and influenza at the same time, so it’s important to stay home and not expose the body to any other illnesses than necessary. A telehealth appointment can be helpful for those who are at high risk and may need an antiviral treatment like Tamiflu, Relenza, Xofluza, or Rapivab to prevent serious complications.
Flu Treatment Options to Consider
While it would be nice to have a magic pill that took away the flu immediately, that’s still not an option. Flu treatment these days includes lots of rest, plenty of fluids, and in some serious cases, the need for an antiviral drug.
You can address your symptoms to be more comfortable and reduce your aches and pains.
Always call 911 if you’re experiencing severe breathing problems or your lips are turning blue in color.
Here are some options to consider next time you have the flu:
- Contact your doc - High-risk groups may need an antiviral drug for treatment. These are most effective if you get them within 24 hours of noticing your symptoms. It can shorten your flu symptoms by up to two days, too.
- Keep up with ongoing fluid replacement - It’s important to stay hydrated daily, but even more so when you’re sick with the flu. A fever can cause you to sweat and you’ll need to replace those fluids. Plain water, coconut water, and electrolyte sports drinks are all good options. Hot tea can soothe your throat when mixed with honey and lemon.
- Over-the-Counter Medications - You may find certain medications can offer relief when you have the flu. This may include a pain reliever for muscle aches, decongestants, and cough medicine. Talk with a pharmacist before mixing any medications, including prescriptions and OTC medicines to prevent overdosing.
- Use a humidifier - A humidifier is a great way to loosen mucus and help you breathe easier. It can be especially helpful to have one next to your bed while you sleep. Nasal strips may also make you feel more comfortable if you’re congested.
- Epsom salt baths - A warm Epsom salt bath may promote healing and help the body’s detoxification. The salts contain both magnesium and sulfate, which can help with muscle pains and aches.
With these treatment options, you should be able to kick the flu in no time. Remember, it takes time and usually up to a week before you feel better. It’s normal for a cough to last up to two weeks after you’ve had the flu, too.
For any worsening symptoms — including severe difficulty breathing — head to your closest emergency room department for medical treatment.
Check out our free guide on how to host a successful flu shot clinic! Get your employees vaccinated today and prevent the spread of flu during this year’s cold and flu season.