Flu does not discriminate. You may still catch it, even if you were diligent with your hand-washing, immune-boosting, and people-avoiding strategies. Five to 20 percent of the U.S. population comes down with flu each year, so there’s a good chance that you or a loved one may catch it.
The key to dramatically cutting downtime from flu is to recognize, respond, and relax—and to know when to see your doctor if conditions worsen. I tell my patients that defense is the best offense against this virus.
Here’s a day-by-day game plan, including what not to do and what to do, so you can recover quickly and get back to your daily demands.Days 1-2 Don’ts
: No work, no school. Call in sick. If you are questioning whether or not to go, then it’s best to take a sick day. If you are feeling feverish or have chills, don’t take a cold shower, it won’t break a fever and can have the opposite effect.Days 1-2 Do’s
: The first 48 hours are the most critical! First step: stay home. You are highly contagious by the time you feel the onset of symptoms. In fact, adults can be contagious the day before symptoms begin through 5-10 days after the illness starts. Second step: start taking Oscillococcinum
, an over-the-counter homeopathic medicine. This non-drowsy medicine has been used for decades to reduce the duration and severity of flu-like symptoms including body aches, chills, and fever, but works best if started in the first 48 hours. A study found that 63 percent of patients who took Oscillococcinum within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms showed “clear improvement” or “complete resolution” within 48 hours. It’s ideal for anyone age two and up.Days 3-4 Don’ts
: Do not run to your doctor seeking antibiotics, because they don’t work on viruses. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, and influenza is a viral infection.Days 3-4 Do’s
: Make an appointment with your doctor to confirm your flu symptoms, then stock up on complementary remedies that can help you recoup. Some lesser-known supplements you can try are black elderberry extract which can decrease flu severity and boost the body’s immune system; butterbur which has anti-inflammatory properties that aid in the recovery; and basil, an herbal expectorant that is helpful in treating illnesses that involve excess mucus and may also help soothe earaches.Days 5-7 Don’ts
: This is a challenging one, but don’t lie down. It’s vitally important to get rest but lying down can make it harder on the lungs. Try sitting upright so it’s easier to clear the lungs.Days 5-7 Do’s
: Rest and relax. You are almost to the finish line. Overexerting yourself at the end of an illness can push back your get-well time. The more sleep you can get, the more your immune system can recharge. Also, pump in fluids any way you can, including broth-based soups, popsicles, hot tea with honey, and electrolyte-enriched water, which can all be beneficial to recovery.
For more flu-fighting tips, visit DrRedcross.com