Chills, body aches, fatigue, runny nose or congestion, cough, sore throat and possibly headache and nausea or vomiting. These are all symptoms of the flu. During the 2018-2019 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were 37.4 – 42.9 million flu illnesses in the U.S.
This year, you can prevent yourself from becoming a statistic by getting a flu vaccine. During the 2017-2018 flu season, the flu vaccination prevented approximately 7 million flu illnesses, 109,000 flu hospitalizations and 8,000 flu deaths, according to the CDC. Although flu vaccine effectiveness varies each year, studies have shown that the vaccine can decrease flu risk by 40-60%.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, making sure to focus the sanitizer on your fingertips.
- Avoid touching your eyes and nose, which are lined with respiratory epithelium—a direct path to your entire upper airways.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Disinfect common areas that may have been exposed to germs from a sick person.
Remedies to Try at Home
Even after taking all these precautions, you may still be one of the unlucky ones who gets the flu this season. Dr. Montion offered these flu home remedy tips to help you feel better:
- Rest: Sleep is a critical component for recovering from the flu.
- Over-the-counter medications: Medicines like ibuprofen can help with aches and pains and lowering your fever.
- Take in liquids: Drink a lot of water to promote movement of respiratory secretions and try chicken soup, which has been touted as having some anti-inflammatory properties.
- Nasal irrigation: To relieve nasal congestion, try a neti pot.
- Honey: Swallowing a tablespoon of honey can help with your cough (over 2 years of age only).
- Aromatherapy diffuser: Adding peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils to your diffuser can help aid your symptoms.
When to See your Physician
For the average person, the best way to get through the flu is to stay home and rest. However, if you develop chest pain with breathing or other breathing difficulties, you should seek a medical evaluation, according to Dr. Montion.
Those in high-risk categories—babies and children, the elderly or those with chronic medical conditions and lung disorders—should seek medical evaluation within the first two days of suspected flu. There are anti-viral flu medications, like Tamiflu®, that could possibly help prevent more severe complications, if started right away.
If you suspect you have the flu or are having severe symptoms, you can schedule an appointment with a Banner physician.