Fighting the Flu

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

Med­i­c­i­nal Remedies

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?