Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection of the respiratory system that can really ruin your day. It manifests itself through symptoms such as nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, body aches, fatigue, and occasionally, diarrhea and vomiting.
Fighting the flu is a fairly simple process. First, you need to be sure you have the flu. Then, you choose how you’ll treat it. You can go with natural remedies, medicinal remedies, or a mixture of the two.
Do You Have the Flu?
The flu shares many of its symptoms with the common cold: runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, etc. There are some differences that can tip you off. The onset of flu is more sudden, with symptoms becoming severe within a day. Cold symptoms usually develop more gradually and predictably.
The flu is also usually accompanied by fever, which is not typically a symptom of the cold. Other flu symptoms include chills, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. In extreme cases, severe dehydration and very high fever can occur. If these symptoms occur, it’s best to seek a doctor’s assistance. You should seek immediate medical treatment for:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Sudden dizziness
- Blueish skin tone
- Symptoms that improve then return with increased severity
The flu can be treated either by over-the-counter remedies or with the assistance of prescription medication.
- OTC Remedies – Aches and pains can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin. Various antihistamines and decongestants can be used to combat congestion. Expectorants or cough suppressants can be used to treat cough.
- Prescription medications like Tamiflu or Relenza can ease symptoms and shorten the duration of your flu as long as their taken within 48 hours of onset.
The Natural Way
If you don’t want to be all drugged up on cough syrup and painkillers, you do have natural options to treat the flu at your fingertips.
- Blow your own horn – Don’t allow mucus to build up in nasal passages by blowing your nose often. Make sure you use the proper technique to avoid hurting your ears. Plug one nostril while gently blowing the other nostril.
- Get some rest – Fighting the infection uses a lot of energy. You can help your body out by getting plenty of rest.
- Gargle – Gargling can help soothe your sore throat. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and do this 4 times a day. Use an astringent tea (containing tannic acid) to tighten membranes and alleviate that tickle in your throat. Gargling with honey is also effective, although it shouldn’t be given to very young children.
- Drink a lot of hot fluids – Hot fluids help to soothe inflamed membranes, relieve nasal congestion, and prevent dehydration.
- Steam it up – A hot shower helps to soothe nasal passages and relax your body. Use hot or cold packs around congested areas.
- Rest your head – Sleep with an extra pillow under your head. This will assist the drainage of nasal passages.
Beat the Flu Before It Beats You
The best way to fight the flu is to avoid getting it in the first place. That’s actually quite a simple process. Check it out:
- Get vaccinated before flu season kicks off.
- Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene – Wash your hands often. Wash after you go to the bathroom. Wash after you’ve been out in a public place. Wash after being around others who may be sick. If you don’t have access to soap and water, keep some anti-bacterial wipes handy.
- Keep in good general health. Take your vitamins. Eat your vegetables. Get plenty of exercise. Simple, right?