What to Do When the Flu Strikes

What to Do When the Flu Strikes | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Flu season typically runs from November through April, though it can strike at any time and leave you feeling under the weather for days – even weeks – at a time. Among the most common symptoms associated with the flu include nausea, vomiting, and fever – though other symptoms can also develop, such as muscle or body aches, headaches, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and fatigue. There’s also the risk of potential complications arising from having the flu. For example, you could develop sinusitis (also known as a sinus infection) or even get pneumonia. Below are some tips that will help alleviate some of the symptoms, speed up the healing process, as well as prevent your risk of developing the flu in the future.

First and foremost, avoid anyone you know who might be sick with the flu. In some cases, this is easier said than done, but avoiding other individuals who are ill helps to prevent the flu from spreading further – and it’s the same scenario if you, yourself, are sick with the flu. Person to person contact should be avoided for the first three to four days after your illness begins, as it is when you are most contagious – though it’s also possible to infect others as early as one day prior to developing symptoms, as well as 5 to 7 days after you’ve gotten sick. The flu is easily spread through droplets – usually from coughing or sneezing – so something else you should make sure you’re doing regularly is washing your hands with warm, soapy water as well as wiping down any hard surfaces (such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, and even computers) with anti-bacterial wipes.

When it comes to getting better, the best thing you can give your body if you have the flu is rest. That’s not to say you should stay in bed watching TV all day long or that it gives you an excuse to stay up late at night. In fact, if anything, you should try to go to bed earlier than you normally would as well as sleep in as long as possible or take a nap in the middle of the day so that your body can have enough time to properly recover.

You also need to keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration is another common symptom of the flu and is often due to having a high fever which can lead to sweating in addition to vomiting and diarrhea. As a result, your bod loses liquids that need to be replenished. You can drink anything from water to herbal tea, as these will be easiest on the stomach, though you can also replenish electrolytes with beverages such as Gatorade or Hydralyte. Beverages that should be avoided with the flu include caffeine (such as coffee) and alcohol.

Even though you might not have much of an appetite, it’s important to fuel your body with good and healthy, nutritious foods when you are sick in order to maintain your body strength. That’s not to say you have to eat a large, heavy meal. Things like fresh fruits and vegetables can be enough to temporarily provide your body with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that should help give your immune system the boost that it needs.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to take over-the-counter medications for some relief. Things like general body aches and pains, headache, and fever can be reduced with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, while you may also need to take a decongestant if you have nasal congestion, and a cough suppressant or expectorant to either soothe your cough or help you bring up mucus. You can also take over-the-counter medication for nausea, but if your nausea is severe then your doctor may need to prescribe you something stronger.