Whenever flu season strikes, everyone lives in perpetual fear of contracting this highly contagious respiratory infection. Caused by the influenza virus, it takes around a week to ten days for the flu symptoms to subside and for you to get relief. But are there any strategies that can be followed to recover faster from the common cold and the flu? While there is no cure for the flu, there are some ways in which you can recover faster. So how to have the fastest recovery possible from the flu? Let us take a look.
How To Recover From Flu Fast?
Here are some tips to help you have a faster recovery from the flu.
Give Your Body The Rest It Needs – Stay Home(1,2,3)
One of the biggest requirements of your body, when it is suffering from the flu, is rest.(1,2,3) And you cannot rest if you go to work or keep going out for something or the other. The body needs plenty of energy as well as time to fight off the influenza virus. This means that you have to put your day-to-day schedule on hold till you recover.
You may be tempted to catch up on some housework while you are at home from work, but do not put a strain on yourself. The pile of laundry or your grocery shopping can wait for another week until you get better. Stay home from school, stay home from work, and put all your chores on hold till you start to feel better and have your energy back.
Staying home will not only help you recover, but it will also stop the spread of the flu virus to other people at your workplace or school. Remember that for the elderly and smaller children, the flu can be very dangerous. This is why it is important that you avoid contact with other people till the time you are no longer contagious. All this makes it very important that resting is the fastest recovery from the flu.
Catch Up On Your Sleep For Faster Flu Recovery
When you sleep, your body gets the time to repair and fight against bacteria and viruses. This is why getting as much sleep as possible is necessary to allow your body to fight the flu and recover faster from it. Even if you are unable to sleep, you can always curl up on the couch and watch some TV, allowing your body to rest. However, do not make the mistake of staying up all night watching TV as that will again put a strain on your body.
You should try to go to sleep earlier than you usually do and sleep in. Taking a nap in the day will also give more time to your body for recovering faster. When you rest and get plenty of sleep, it also reduces the chances of you developing more serious complications of the flu, such as pneumonia.
Get Over Your Flu by Keeping Yourself Well-Hydrated(1,2,3)
One of the common symptoms of the flu is that you are likely to have a high fever. This can cause you to sweat. Apart from high temperature, you may also experience symptoms of diarrhea or vomiting. This is why at this stage your body requires a lot of fluids to replace the fluids that are being lost. Fluids are equally essential for fighting off the flu infection.(1,2,3)
While water is the best fluid to have while you are down with the flu, you can also choose to have herbal teas, ginger tea, or even simple tea with honey. Avoid having carbonated and sugary beverages at this time, as they will only dehydrate you further and may also worsen your symptoms. Tea will have a soothing impact on your body, help decongest your nasal passages, and also keep you well-hydrated. Apart from carbonated beverages, you also need to avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Maintain a Healthy Diet For Speedy Recovery From The Flu
While staying hydrated is important, equally important is that you maintain a healthy diet while you are sick. While you may be experiencing a loss of appetite, or you want to binge out on a bowl full of ice cream and chips, you need to understand that eating healthy foods will provide your body with the nutrition it needs to recover faster from the flu.
This is why you should include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables so that your body gets all the vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs at this point in time to fight against the virus. Healthy foods will also help strengthen your immune system.
In spite of not having too much of an appetite, you should still try to maintain your regular meals so that you can keep up your strength.(3)
Breathe Easier for Better Recovery from Flu
When you have the flu, your nose will become stuffy and having a cough may make it difficult to sleep in the night. Breathing easier will help you get a better night’s sleep so that you feel rested in the morning.
Sleeping with a vaporizer or a humidifier in the room will help decongest and open up your nose.(4)
Try to take a hot shower or a bath before going to bed.
Using an extra pillow for propping up your head will ease the sinus pressure and help you breathe easier when suffering from flu.(5)
Use a Humidifier or a Vaporizer
Adding moisture to the air is necessary when you have the flu since dry air tends to worsen the symptoms. Using a humidifier or a vaporizer will add sufficient moisture to the air, which will help loosen up your congestion.
You can research online about the many types of vaporizers and humidifiers that are available on the market today and many models are available at reasonable prices.
Try to Breathe in Steam to Relieve Symptoms of Flu
Breathing in steam will help decongest your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe when suffering from flu. You can fill your bathroom sink with hot water and add one teaspoon of any over-the-counter menthol rub into this. Then breathe in the steam for a couple of minutes until you start feeling better. If you don’t have menthol rub, then adding a couple of drops of eucalyptus or menthol oil will also work just as well for alleviating flu symptoms.
Taking steam at least two to three times in a day and especially once before going to bed in the night will help ease congestion, open up your airways, and make it easier to breathe. It will also help you sleep better at night.
Make Use of Saline Nose Drops
One of the worst feelings when you have the flu is probably having a stuffy nose and not being able to breathe. Saline nose drops or sprays are easily available at any pharmacy and you do not need a prescription to buy them. They are safe and they work wonders, even in children. Saline nose drops also don’t make your sore throat worse. Having an unblocked nose with the help of saline nose drops will help you feel better and allow you to get a good night’s sleep as well.(6)
Try Honey to Soothe the Throat in Flu
Honey can be wonderful for soothing a cough or a sore throat.(7,8) Honey is a commonly used remedy that is known to provide a lot of benefits when you have the flu. In fact, if you mix a teaspoon of honey into your tea, it will not only keep you hydrated, but it will help with other flu symptoms as well.
Researchers have found that a dose of honey works much better at controlling a nighttime cough rather than the commonly found store-bought cough suppressants in cases of upper respiratory tract infections. However, make sure that you do not give honey to children who are younger than one year old.(9,10)
Try Elderberry Lozenges/Extract for Relieving Flu Symptoms(11)
Elderberry is perhaps one of the most commonly used medicinal plants around the world for the treatment of colds and the flu. A placebo-controlled study found that participants who had the flu and who took elderberry lozenges at least three to four times in a day experienced a reduction in a headache, nasal congestion, cough, muscle aches, and even fever, after 48 hours of taking the lozenges.
A study done by the Griffith University in Australia found that in 312 air travelers, consuming about 300-milligram capsules of elderberry extract at least three to four times a day, helped reduce the symptoms of cold and flu. It was also noticed that the elderberry extract capsules helped reduce the overall duration of the flu and cold.
You can find elderberry lozenges, syrups, and capsules easily in pharmacy stores or even online. However, be mindful that you should not consume raw elderberries as they can cause symptoms of diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Elderberry, in spite of all the benefits it provides, though, is still a complementary therapy and if your doctor has prescribed you with some prescription medication or if you are taking any over-the-counter medications, you should not stop taking those.
Over-the-Counter Medications for Fighting Flu
If you visit any local pharmacy or drug store, you will notice that there are hundreds of different choices for cold and flu medications that can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC). Some medications will help you treat a specific symptom, such as nasal congestion, others will help treat several flu symptoms at a time. Some OTC medications that may help you recover faster from the flu include:
- Decongestants: Medications such as Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) will help open up your nasal passages, allowing you to breathe easier when suffering from flu. They will also help relieve the pressure in your sinuses thus making you feel much better.
- Pain Relievers: When you have the flu, you may be experiencing headache, body aches, and a fever. Pain relievers such as Advil and Motrin (ibuprofen) and Tylenol (acetaminophen) will provide relief from these flu symptoms.
- Antihistamines: These medications will help you deal with a runny nose, itchy eyes, as well as sneezing. Antihistamines also have a sedative effect, which will help you get some sleep.
- Cough Suppressants: Medications such as Robitussin (dextromethorphan) can be used for getting relief from a dry cough. There are suppressants available for wet cough as well. If unsure which one you should buy, you can always ask your local pharmacist or consult your doctor.
- Expectorants: These medications help in loosening the thick mucus and are useful for a wet cough that produces a lot of mucus.
After purchase, do make sure that you read the label on the medication to learn the proper dosage of the medications. Do not accidentally combine certain medications. One needs to avoid giving Aspirin for the flu to children and teenagers as it may give rise to a serious complication known as Reye’s syndrome.
Antiviral Drugs for Fighting Flu- But on Prescription Only(12)
There are antiviral drugs available by prescription only which provide relief in the flu. However, these antiviral drugs will only be prescribed by your doctor. Antivirals are generally only prescribed for those people who have a high risk of developing certain complications from the flu.
The primary role of these antiviral drugs is to stop the virus from growing and replicating and they work best when taken within 48 hours of first experiencing the flu symptoms.
You should consult your doctor for antivirals under the following circumstances:
- If you are pregnant
- If you are under the age of 5 years or over the age of 65 years
- If you are living in a long-term care facility or in a nursing home
- If you are taking medications that weaken the immune system
- If you are suffering from a chronic medical condition already
The most commonly prescribed antiviral medication is Tamiflu (oseltamivir). For people who are above the age of 12 years, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approved the antiviral drug Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil) just recently in October 2018.
When you successfully start the course of antivirals within the first two days of the onset of your symptoms, then you will notice a reduction in not only the severity of your symptoms, but also the overall duration of the flu. It reduces the duration by 24 to 48 hours.
Take the Flu Vaccine
The yearly flu vaccine has been proven to be extremely helpful in preventing the flu.(13) The annual influenza vaccine is designed on the predictions of scientists about which strain of the flu virus is likely to dominate in the coming flu season. While it may be wrong at times, but getting the flu shot, especially after you already get the flu, will definitely protect you from many of the other flu virus strains.
Getting vaccinated will surely boost your chances to stay protected from the flu.
Nobody can predict whether or not you will be protected from the flu. The best thing to recover faster from the flu is to get plenty of rest, stay indoors, sleep and drink lots of fluids, preferably warm fluids. If you are able to catch on early that you are coming down with the flu, and you know that you are at a higher risk of serious complications, then you should consult your doctor immediately so that they can put you on the appropriate medication, likely an antiviral.
Flu symptoms tend to resolve themselves within a week or two. If even after two weeks your symptoms continue to persist, then you should consult your doctor to rule out any other underlying condition.
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