Flu season is here, so knowing the signs of the illness can help you get the appropriate flu treatment sooner. It’s especially tricky this season, because a throat trickle can be mistaken as the cold, or COVID, or something else entirely. Knowing the correct signs and symptoms is important, especially for vulnerable populations to ensure that the flu doesn’t turn deadly.
Here’s to getting the flu treatment you need to feel better immediately!
How To Know If It’s Flu
It can be hard to know at the onset of symptoms whether what you’re experiencing is the flu or something else, especially now, with multiple COVID variants and other upper respiratory illnesses going around. The flu is a common viral infection that starts circulating in October and can stick around until as long as May.
Here is a list of flu symptoms:
- Fever (though not all experience fever with the flu)
- 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)
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 To Do When You Have the Flu
The flu can easily tire you. Since the flu is an infection, it’s best to rest as much as possible to help the body fight off the infection. Fortunately, most people only have mild symptoms and do not need antiviral drugs to treat their infection.
Here’s what to do when you’re sick with flu:
Stay at Home.
As you know, the flu is contagious, so it’s important that you isolate yourself from others when you have the flu. The reduces the chance of spreading the flu to others in your house or your community.
Antivirals may not be needed for most flu cases, but rest sure is. Rest is key to a faster recovery. Sleep helps boost the immune system and helps combat the infection more effectively. Listen to what your body needs and get plenty of rest when you feel sick. Stay hydrated and take as many naps as you need.
Contact a Health Provider.
For those in vulnerable populations (65 and older, pregnant, or living with chronic health conditions), the flu can be more dangerous. It’s also possible to have COVID-19 and influenza at the same time. It’s all the more important to stay home and not expose your body to any other diseases. 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.
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. Always call 911 if you’re experiencing severe breathing problems or your lips are turning blue in color.
Flu Treatment Options to Consider
Flu treatment these days includes lots of rest, plenty of fluids, and in some serious cases, the need for an antiviral drug. Here are some options to consider next time you have the flu:
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.
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.
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.