The flu isn’t just a bad cold. It’s influenza, a viral infection that strikes your throat, nose and lungs. Although people may refer to a stomach virus as the “stomach flu,” that’s not the same thing. Influenza generally gets better on its own. You can take steps to give your body the best chance of healing.
However, some home remedies just don’t work. You might not want to waste your time with the following DIY flu cures.
Don’t Take Cough Medicine
Although the flu can leave you with a nasty cough, over-the-counter cough medication may not soothe your symptoms. You need something stronger than your average drugstore cough medicine. What you purchase over the counter may not have enough suppressants to keep a cough at bay.
Experts say that most cough medicines sold over the counter haven’t been proven to reduce cough symptoms. Moreover, some prescription cough medicines contain opioids, such as codeine. The FDA recommends avoiding giving those to children. Plus, drugs that contain codeine or hydrocodone can be dangerous and addictive.
Don’t Lie Flat
When you have the flu, all you probably want to do is rest. Curling up in your bed is your best respite, but it may not help the situation. When you lie down, you make it tougher for the lungs to work. This is especially true if you have mucus buildup in the airways.
Instead of resting flat, consider propping yourself up with pillows. Elevating your head can prevent post-nasal drip too. It could stop that tickle that makes you keep coughing.
Don’t Drink Alcohol
If your grandmother offers you a hot toddy when you have the flu, you might want to turn it down. Alcohol can make you feel drowsy, but it won’t help you sleep in the long run. Plus, it can dehydrate you.
When you have the flu, you might feel feverish and delirious. Adding alcohol to the mix can exacerbate those symptoms.
Instead of a hot toddy, consume plenty of water, electrolyte drinks and other clear, non-alcoholic fluids. Warm broth or stock is a great option that provides some nourishment and soothes your sore throat.
You shouldn’t force yourself to consume solid food if you’re not feeling well. However, you should sip as much liquid as possible to stay hydrated.
Don’t Take an Ice Bath
Have you ever heard that you should take a cold shower or ice bath when you have a fever? Doing so won’t bring down your fever. In fact, it may elevate it as your body compensates by trying to warm you up.
A warm bath or shower can reduce your body temperature, though. If you have a fever with the flu, you might want to hop into a tepid tub.
Don’t Sweat It Out
Just as some people believe that cold water can help the flu, others recommend that you sweat it out. Please don’t pile on blankets or warm clothing when you have the flu in an attempt to increase perspiration. Do what feels comfortable. If you have the chills, stay as warm as you need to.
But if you’re already hot, you might feel better by applying a cool compress to your neck, head or chest. This won’t make the flu go away any faster, but it could ease discomfort.
Don’t Take Unnecessary Antibiotics
Many people think that if they feel bad enough to head to the doctor, they probably need antibiotics. Although some people believe that antibiotics are a cure-all for sore throat and the sniffles, the medication only works to combat bacteria. Because the flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t do much.
When you’re not sure what ailment you have, you might be tempted to take antibiotics just in case. They can’t hurt, right? Carelessly taking antibiotics can leave your body more susceptible to infection.
Your immune system is compromised when you have the flu, which could allow harmful bacteria to take over. If you consume a round of antibiotics unnecessarily, you can leave yourself susceptible to an infection that resists treatment.
You have to get a prescription for antibiotics, which means that you’ll need to see a doctor anyway. Don’t try to finish off that old bottle of antibiotics in hopes of feeling better faster.
Don’t Give Aspirin to Children
You may be tempted to take an over-the-counter medicine to reduce fever. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are appropriate for everyone. You should never give aspirin to teenagers or children. It has been associated with Reye’s syndrome, a condition that can damage the liver and cause brain swelling. Acetaminophen is also an ingredient in many cough medicines. Check the label before giving it to someone under the age of 18.
Don’t Take Antivirals at the Wrong Time
Even though antibiotics won’t cure the flu, there is medication out there that can help treat it after you have symptoms. Antiviral medication can reduce the severity of symptoms and reduce your sick time by a day or two.
People who are at serious risk of developing complications from the flu, such as elderly folks, infants, and people with diabetes, heart disease or asthma, should see a doctor as soon as they have symptoms. They’re the best candidates for antiviral drugs.
Tamiflu, one of the most prevalent antiviral flu medications, can be taken by adults, children and even babies. The best time to take Tamiflu is within 48 hours of getting sick. But Tamiflu only works if you have been diagnosed with influenza. Without taking a flu test, you can’t be sure if you have another virus.
The only way to find out for sure is to see a doctor. But if you’ve been sick for a week, taking antivirals probably won’t help.
One thing to know is that you may stave off an attack of the flu by taking Tamiflu preventatively. If you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the flu, talk to a physician about getting a prescription.
Do Visit the Urgent Care
If you want to confirm that you have the flu or want to get antiviral medication, visit one of our Integra Urgent Care locations in Grand Prairie, Weatherford, and Las Colinas. You can check in online so that you don’t have to expose yourself to more germs in the lobby. Plus, our professionals are dedicated to providing you with the best care possible.
The CDC says that the first line against the flu is a vaccination. We can give you a flu shot this season too.