Millions of people get influenza or flu every winter. The flu is caused by small germs called viruses that spread easily from person to person. Typically, the flu doesn’t make you extremely sick, but it’s life-threatening for individuals with underlying conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Even though you may not be at high risk, the flu can disrupt your life. Here are 10 helpful suggestions to help you and your family survive the flu season.
How does the flu spread?
Influenza is very contagious, spreading through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. The virus can also live on surfaces for hours, so you can catch it when you touch a door handle or grab a book off a shelf. You’re contagious before you have symptoms, so it’s easy to infect the people around you without knowing it. If you have any symptoms, don’t go to work or school. This will prevent the virus from spreading to your co-workers or school friends.
How do you know if you have the flu or a cold?
The common cold and influenza are common illnesses during the winter. Because some of their symptoms are so similar, you may wonder how to tell the difference. Here’s a chart with the normal symptoms of a cold and the flu and how to tell the difference between the two of them.
Top ten flu season survival tips
Flu season runs from December to March, but it can go even later, and it varies from year to year. As the season rolls around every year, it’s good to be reminded how to avoid getting the flu or to know how to best care for yourself if you get it. Here are some simple but effective flu survival tips.
1. Add some healthy probiotics to your diet
According to a landmark study in the medical journal Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, gut health is key to a healthy immune system. Feeding your gut’s healthy, natural microbiome proves useful in fighting viruses and keeping you well. Additionally, the study notes that a healthy gut may shorten the length of time you experience symptoms if you catch the flu. Scientists continue to research exactly why this connection is so strong.
How do you get probiotics? It is easy–eat fermented foods. Some of the proven offerings you should add to your diet include the following:
2. Wash your hands
Be sure to wash your hands a lot during winter. There are so many germs floating around this time of year. If you are around someone who is sick, besides washing your hand, wipe down surfaces such as doorknobs and counters with bleach wipes. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. You may want to air out your house once a day by opening the windows and doors to allow the clean, fresh air to move throughout your house.
This will freshen the air and clear out germs floating in the air. Keep hand sanitizer on your desk at work and use it periodically throughout the day.
3. Stay home
If you don’t feel well, be sure to stay home. It’s tempting to want to push through and go to work or school, but it’s not helpful for you. Plus, you could end up spreading the flu to other people around you. Stay home to rest so your body can fight off the virus. If you continue working, your body can’t fight off the virus as well, so you get to run down. This can lead to a secondary infection such as pneumonia.
4. Treat flu with homeopathy
Homeopathy is an effective way to treat flu symptoms. Oscillococcinum supports your body’s ability to fight off the flu virus. It can shorten your symptoms and help you feel better quicker. You can buy it at many grocery stores or online. When you first have flu symptoms, take the first dose of Oscillococcinum. Repeat two or three times every six hours. If you have had the flu for several days, take one dose in the morning and one dose in the evening for three days.
When you have the flu, the best thing you can do for your body is rest in bed. It’s tempting to want to get up and try to do some work. It’s okay to be a couch potato when you have the flu. Turn off your phone and the television and try to sleep a lot since science proves how sleep will boost your immune system for you to better fight off the virus.
6. Drink lots of fluids
Push fluids like water, juice, or clear bone broths. It’s easy to get dehydrated due to the fever, so drinking fluids will replace the fluids your body is losing. Being fully hydrated will help your body heal. Other things that can help you stay hydrated include:
- Ice chips
- Sports drinks
- Clear soda like ginger ale
- Ice pops
- Lemon-lime sodas
- Herbal teas
- Seltzer water without sugar
One note. Our readers know we usually share information about why you should avoid sodas and sugary foods. Consider recovering from influenza, a rare exception to this rule.
7. Treating your aches and pains
Influenza can cause achiness and muscle pain. This is because your immune system sends your white blood cells throughout your body to fight the infection, which causes inflammation in your muscles and joints. To alleviate the achiness and stiffness, try taking a warm shower. You can also take a dose or two of acetaminophen if the pain keeps you awake.
8. Fever treatment
Fever is common when you have the flu. The big question is whether you should try to lower your fever with medication or allow the fever to run its course so your body can fight the virus. Studies show that it may be best to ride out a fever and not take fever-lowering drugs. Of course, if you have a medical condition that would put you in danger if you get a fever, you should take a moment to call your doctor to discuss your options. Also, remember to drink lots of fluids because of the fever.
9. Eat nourishing and healthy foods
Being sick is no reason to skip food or to eat unhealthy foods. Boost your body’s immune system with healthy foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Blueberries: These little berries are rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, which boost your immune system. They are also high in vitamin C, which is good to fight off infection.
- Bananas: Bananas are high in potassium.
- Cranberry: Drink cranberry juice to boost your vitamin C and antioxidants.
- Bone broths: These broths are helpful to build up your amino acids. Chicken or beef broths contain lots of vitamins and minerals.
- Oatmeal: A warm bowl of oatmeal is comfort food when you have the flu. Full of fiber and B vitamins, choose whole old-fashioned oats instead of quick oats since these contain the most vitamins and minerals.
10. Ease your sore throat
The flu can make your throat sore or irritated. Try sucking on throat lozenges, hard candies, or cough drops to ease your throat irritations. Zinc lozenges are also good for your throat, plus they may help your body fight off the infection. Some people find relief for a sore throat through gargling with warm salt water twice a day.
What if you’re not getting better?
Everybody responds differently to the flu. The flu virus usually lasts from 7 to 14 days with aches, pains, fever, and fatigue. If you feel like you’re not getting better, you may want to watch for these symptoms.
- Trouble breathing
- Shortness of breath or coughing up thick mucus
- Fever comes and goes.
- Your symptoms last longer than two weeks.
- Chest pain
- Ear pain
- Bad sinus pains
- A dry cough that hangs on after you have no other symptoms
If you have these symptoms, call your doctor right away. You may have a secondary bacterial infection along with the flu. Your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic to fight off the bacterial infection.
Influenza is a common winter viral infection that, according to the CDC, causes anywhere from 10 to 45 million illnesses every year. It’s important to guard against getting the flu by getting a yearly flu vaccination. This may prevent you from getting the flu entirely or at least reducing severe symptoms of the flu.
Wash your hand often during the winter and if possible, stay away from anyone who has the flu. If you do get the flu, try taking the homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinum right to help fight off the infection. Sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy foods. Take warm showers to reduce the achiness, and take an aspirin or acetaminophen if the pain is too bad. If your symptoms persist longer than two weeks or you develop a bad cough or high fever, call your doctor. They can help you find relief if you don’t beat the viral infection on your own.