If you have been diagnosed with the flu, you should stay home and follow your health care provider's recommendations. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about over-the-counter and prescription medications to ease flu symptoms and help you feel better faster.
- You can treat flu symptoms with and without medication.
- Over-the-counter medications may relieve some flu symptoms but will not make you less contagious.
- Your health care provider may prescribe antiviral medications to make your illness milder and prevent serious complications.
- Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics if your flu has progressed to a bacterial infection.
You can treat flu symptoms without medication by:
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated
- Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with a fever
- Putting a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier
- Gargling salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat
- Covering up with a warm blanket to calm chills
Decongestants can ease discomfort from stuffy noses, sinuses, ears, and chests. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about which kind is right for you.
Cough medicine, cough drops, and throat lozenges can temporarily relieve coughing and sore throat. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about which kind is right for you.
Fevers and aches can be treated with a pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®, for example), ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®), or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) (Aleve®).If you have kidney disease or stomach problems, check with your health care provider before taking any NSAIDS.
Many over-the-counter medications contain the same active ingredients. If you take several medicines with the same active ingredient you might be taking more than the recommended dose. This can cause serious health problems. Read all labels carefully.
If you are taking over-the-counter or prescription medications not related to the flu, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about which cold and flu medications are safe for you.