What to Do for the Flu

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8 Things You Can Do For the Full-Blown Flu

b8 Things You Can Do For the Full-Blown Flu | The Survival Doctory James Hubbard, MD, MPH

It’s a real bummer to get the flu. Not just a bad cold. I’m talking aching all over and high-fever running, can’t get out of the bed, full-blown flu. In other words it can kind of ruin your week. And if you’re a prepper? Forget it. You’re so sick you’re virtually useless during a disaster.

Now the shot prevents a lot of flus but not all of them. Bottom line: you can say you never get that nasty stuff, but you can’t say you never will.

I’ve put together a little just-in-case information on what to do for the flu if you get it. I’d advise you to read it now. Because you may not feel like it later.

 

1. Keep your immune system in tip-top shape. This is your best bet in fighting this bad bug once you get it. That means a balanced diet (the flu season is no time for crash dieting) and regular exercise—but don’t overdo it. Again, this is not time to try to meet your 2013 goal of going from a couch potato to a marathoner in one week. Get plenty of sleep and cut back on the stress (I can hear you laughing hilariously). I even have a post on how to do the latter.

2. Pick a preventer—or a remedy. I have a couple of posts on proven natural boosters to prevent or treat a cold. I also have a post on some common treatments that have proof they don’t work. Although the flu is a different story, they’re both viruses so I think these boosters are worth a try.

3. Having said that, try to determine if you actually have the flu or just a cold. Sometimes, without a flu test, that’s next to impossible, but with a typical cold you feel bad, maybe run a low-grade fever, and have muscle aches. You might have a cough and runny nose, may sneeze a lot. But with the flu, there’s usually no doubt. Your fever is higher and every symptom is worse. You feel like you just went ten rounds with a young Mike Tyson, and it becomes a chore to get out of the bed. Why should you differentiate? Glad you asked.

4. One reason is there are some prescription antiviral medications that can cut back on the severity and length of the flu symptoms (but not a cold). The meds aren’t perfect—they only cut the symptoms from, say, seven days to five. And if you’re going to take them, you need to start within forty-eight hours of the beginning of your symptoms, but they’re worth it to some people—especially if you have a chronic problem like heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, to name a few.

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5. Another reason is, for goodness’ sake, stay home, away from others, and get well. You’re not doing yourself or anyone else any favors if you go to work and expose everyone to your flu germ. The flu is one gift that’s never appreciated.

6. Feel better. Try to ease your symptoms by drinking fluids (yes, chicken soup is good and is a proven virus fighter) and taking acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin or Aleve), or naproxen (Aleve) as needed for the aching and fever. Take a decongestant if you’re stopped up, an antihistamine if you have a bad runny nose, a cough medicine (dextromethorphan or see my post on honey for cough) if needed. A humidifier might help also. (Don’t take aspirin if you think you have the flu. If you’re 18 years old or younger, it increases your risk of the potentially deadly Reye’s syndrome.)

7. Don’t risk it. You absolutely must go to the doctor if you’re more than a little short of breath, can’t keep fluids down, or start becoming confused. Headaches and a stiff neck are common symptoms of the flu, but if the headaches become excruciating or you have severe pain with moving your neck, go.

If you can’t get to a medical facility then you should at least know what to do for dehydration. (Really, though, with the severe headaches and neck pain, I’d be worried it’s not the flu but another serious problem like meningitis or encephalitis. Those are for future posts.)

8. Don’t risk it, part 2. One last thing to take into consideration is the flu often leads to a secondary infection. This is one of the reasons to take care of yourself with all of the above—to keep from getting one.

One typical scenario is that you start feeling better. Maybe even the fever is gone. Then, wham, you start feeling as bad as or worse than ever. In that case, get yourself to the doctor. You may be getting a secondary bacterial infection that needs antibiotics.

You name the infection and it can happen. For example, you may be getting pneumonia—with or without much of a cough. If you have relapse, see a doctor. If you can’t, you need to at least know what to do for that pneumonia, which is one of the most dangerous reasons for a relapse.

 

What about you? Have you ever had the full-blown flu? Any complications? What did you do?

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  • Tammy

    You hit all the best ones. The best remedy is to avoid influenza, get vaccinated. Stay hydrated. Stay home. Rest. Don’t forget to eat something even if you don’t want to. Saline nasal wash helps some. Elderberry cordial or syrup helps the respiratory system. Steam helps the airway. To reduce fever without medication, shower in water not too hot, not too cold but when you get out, the the water naturally evaporate off your skin. Hang in there everyone.

    • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

      Tammy, thanks. Yes, steam and hydration can do wonders.

  • Caitlin R

    With whatever I had this year, I continued to find pure guaifenesin capsules to be excellent supportive therapy for the respiratory problems that come with flu and flu-like conditions.

    Guaifenesin was approved by the FDA in 1952, so it has a long history of safe use. Per Wikipedia, “Guaifenesin is thought to act as an expectorant by increasing the volume and reducing the viscosity of secretions in the trachea and bronchi. It also stimulates the flow of respiratory tract secretions, allowing ciliary movement to carry the loosened secretions upward toward the pharynx.[6] Thus, it may increase the efficiency of the cough reflex and facilitate removal of the secretions; however, objective evidence for this is limited and conflicting.”

    Guaifenesin is the only cough medicine that wasn’t completely excluded as ineffective in a major Cochrane review of over-the-counter cough medicines. And I am one person who will say it is the single most effective treatment (barring actual sinus irrigation) I’ve found for clearing clogged nasal passages and/or stopping a cough that’s caused by accumulated mucus.

    Guaifenesin is often a component of over the counter cough syrups. But I don’t use it this way. You can very easily buy high quality guaifenesin capsules on line, at reasonable cost. We like the Guai Aid brand.

    • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

      Caitlin, thanks. You can buy generic guaifenesin tablets or capsules over-the-counter, or online. It’s, also, the only active ingredient in the plain Mucinex and Robitussin.

  • Dave, RN

    FYI Japan banned Tamiflu for kids due to neuological issues.

    • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

      Thanks, Dave.

  • L.Ac.

    An alternative perspective on flu treatment:

    This year’s flu usually fits the homeopathic remedy Gelsemium (other years it can be different.) You can get it from your local healthfood store, usually in a 30C potency, although 200C would be better if you have the flu already but healthfood stores don’t usually stock that high a potency. For this purpose (fighting flu you already have) you can take it according to the package directions (for other purposes, the package directions might not be the best.)

    To keep from getting the flu this year, you can take ONE dose of Gelsemium 30C per month of the season (see what I mean about package directions not fitting for all purposes?) And you can take another ONE dose if you are exposed to someone you KNOW has the flu, or a bunch of someones if you are something like a school bus driver, in that kind of extreme constant-exposure, I would probably take one dose of 30C per week. For any other purpose, you need to see a trained homeopath. BTW, it does not matter if you have had a flu shot or not, the homeopathic remedy will not interact if you have, and will work if you have not.

    One last thing: Nothing on the internet, including this comment, substitutes for medical advice, if you need medical advice or care, seek out your medical professional.

    • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

      Thanks, L.Ac.