There’s no denying that flu season is upon us. It begins in October and continues until springtime, taking down its victims and leaving them congested, achy, coughing, and fighting fevers. This year’s flu is already hitting hard in the Garden State, but it’s not too late to get a flu shot, your best chance of avoiding the flu. If you miss that opportunity, read on for tips on dealing with flu symptoms.
Influenza is a virus that attacks the respiratory system. It’s highly contagious and can last anywhere from one to two weeks, leaving you exhausted and miserable. Last year’s influenza outbreak was the most severe our country has ever seen, hitting those who are vulnerable particularly hard. In fact, for the elderly, very young children, and those with compromised immune systems, the flu can be life-threatening.
When the flu hits you and your family
Once you’ve been exposed to the flu, it’s likely just a matter of time before you find yourself reeling from its impact. Provided you’re in reasonably good health initially, there’s not much to be done when the flu hits but weather the storm, and watch for any signs of complications.
If you do get the flu, Dr. Forouzesh and the staff here at Advanced Infectious Disease Medical want you to be prepared to take care of yourself. Here are 7 tips to help you fight those nasty symptoms and ease your way back to health.
- Rest at home. The last thing you need to do is attempt to go about your normal routine. You surely don’t want to infect anyone else, and you don’t want to expose your weakened immune system to any other viruses. Take this time to rest, sleeping as much as you can. Stay in bed, on the couch, or park it in your favorite easy chair and binge watch TV. It’s essential to get as much sleep as possible in order to strengthen your system as it fights off this aggressive intruder.
- Drink plenty of fluids. When you’re fighting the flu, drink lots of water. Plain, old H2O may not sound all that exciting, but you probably can’t taste much anyway. Herbal teas, warm broth are good choices, too. Just keep up your fluid intake to thin mucus and combat dehydration.
- Take action against body aches and fever. A fever is your body’s normal response to a viral intruder, in this case, the flu. You can treat it with fever-reducing medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Take a steamy shower. When you’re coughing and congested, nothing beats a good steamy shower. Turn up the furnace so you don’t get chilled and steam away. There are some excellent shower tabs available from your grocery, or drugstore, that fill your shower with menthol and eucalyptus, clearing your airways and calming your cough. You could also do it yourself by adding a few drops of essential oil, or even over-the-counter chest rub, to a clean washcloth and letting the hot water release congestion-busting steam.
- Go for cough control. It can be impossible to rest when your body is wracked with coughing fits. Try to sleep semi-sitting up and use an over-the-counter chest rub. It’s so soothing and comforting. Take cough medicine with an expectorant, so that you can cough up the mucus and relieve chest congestion.
- Relieve sinus pressure and swelling. Use over-the-counter nasal spray made from saline, which works to unblock your nose without drying your membranes. Use it to thin the mucus and blow your nose productively. Unlike medicated nose sprays, saline can be used as needed.
- Eat something healthy. No one feels like cooking or eating a big meal when the flu strikes. But you need nutrition to keep up your strength. Try some light fare such as applesauce or fresh fruit, crackers and cheese, or that favorite of grandmas everywhere, a nice bowl of chicken soup. As you begin to feel better, and your ability to taste is restored, you can enjoy heartier fare, if your tummy is up to it.
If you’re having flu-like symptoms, contact our office in Hoboken, New Jersey, for an appointment immediately. Dr. Forouzesh will examine you and may even prescribe an antiviral. These medications are taken at the first sign of the flu and may lessen the flu’s wrath or duration.
Calling us quickly is especially important if your child or someone with a weak immune system has flu symptoms. If you’re a senior or have HIV, diabetes, or heart disease, you should also contact our office immediately if flu symptoms strike.