The Most Important Things to Do When You Get the Flu

by Sarah Blackburn, DNP, APRN

Somehow, it happened. You got the flu despite all the things you did to prevent it:

  • Received the flu vaccine
  • Practiced excellent hand hygiene and stayed away from sick contacts
  • Ate a balanced, healthy diet high in antioxidants and probiotics
  • Drank plenty of fluids and got plenty of rest

You might think to yourself, “How did I get the flu?! I did everything right!” Unfortunately, in rare circumstances, you can still come down with the flu even with the best personal health practices. The flu is sneaky and at times can invade those with even the best defenses. Don’t be discouraged though; instead, know that living a healthy life up until you get the flu puts you in the best position to fight it off. And if you weren’t able to incorporate all the lifestyle behaviors above prior to getting the flu, that’s okay, too. There are things you can do to get back in the game as soon as possible.

Rest, rest and rest some more.

Rest does the body good! When you come down with the flu, your immune system activates and works very diligently to fight it off. This process consumes a lot of energy. It’s important to take it easy when you are ill. This will allow your immune system to focus on fighting off the illness.

Hydrate and eat nutritiously.

Your body is working hard to fight off the flu – give it the fluid and nutrients it needs as fuel. It is especially important to drink plenty of fluids if you have a fever. Shoot for at least 2 liters of water per day, and more if you are running a fever.

Stay home and away from others.

It is especially important to avoid contact with those who are susceptible to very severe complications if they contract the flu. These groups include, but are not limited to, the elderly, young children, the immune compromised and pregnant women. The exception to this principle is if you need medical care. Otherwise, get yourself nice and comfy at home in a separate location from your household contacts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone to prevent spreading the infection to others. For more information about when to seek medical care, visit the CDC website.

Treat your symptoms.

The flu is caused by a virus, not bacteria. This means that, for most people, it will likely go away on its own with time and rest. There are many over-the-counter (OTC) medications and treatments that can help you feel more comfortable as your body does the hard work of getting rid of the flu. Talk with one of our expert healthcare practitioners at the pharmacy or clinic to find out what OTC treatments are best for you. They can provide a personalized and safe recommendation based on your health history, ensuring there are no interactions with any other medications you may take.

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