Flu season, which can last through March, has only just begun. Now is the time to get ready before peak flu activity hits.
The flu virus can spread within a six-foot radius by a sneeze or even saliva droplets, and you’re contagious 24 hours before you begin experiencing symptoms. Since the virus spreads so easily, contact with the virus is nearly impossible to avoid, so protection is key.
The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends people six months and older receive an annual flu vaccine. A high dose flu vaccine is recommended for ages 65 and up. This vaccine is four times more potent and helps to increase the protection for the largest population of at-risk adults. You only need to get the shot once per flu season. In addition, you can boost your immunity by avoiding sugar, drinking water and taking vitamins and minerals.
So, what happens if you do get the flu? Here are some treatment ideas to manage the fever, aches and chest congestion.
- Adults should take 500-1000 mg of acetaminophen (Tylenol®) every eight hours for body aches and fever. It is safe to take with ibuprofen (Advil®/Motrin®) at a dose of 600 mg every six hours or 800 mg every eight hours. It is important to avoid ibuprofen on an empty stomach as it can trigger nausea or flair reflux. Keep in mind that these drugs can be harmful to people with gastrointestinal issues, kidney disease and those with high blood pressure or heart or vascular disease.
- Guaifenesin is a cough medication taken to assist an individual in coughing mucus out of the chest and is good to use with a wet cough. Sometimes dry coughs are more effectively treated with cough lozenges with honey and lemon and/or menthol.
- Tamiflu® can be used for treatment and prevention of influenza A and B infections, and can help if you have the flu with symptoms less than 48 hours or if you have been exposed to someone who already has the flu. Tamiflu is approved for ages two weeks old and up for treatment and one year old and up for prevention. This medication can be costly and has side effects and is not appropriate for all individuals with the flu. Please speak with your health care provider.
- Xofluza™ is a single dose medication that can be used if flu symptoms began less than 48 hours ago. This is not approved for prevention and has been FDA approved since 2018.
Natural remedy options:
- Black elderberry is thought to boost and support your immune system. It can treat symptoms similar to Tamiflu, but it is plant based. Remember to always get yours from a trusted source.
- More evidence is now available supporting the notion that Vitamin D (5,000 IU daily) can boost immunity and help prevent infections.
- Vitamin C can help an acute infection once symptoms start – dosing up to 3000 mg a day. Be careful as it may also trigger diarrhea at such a high dose.
- Honey is a great method of treatment for the cough and sore throat that often comes with the flu. Local honey is ideal.
- Lemon ginger tea also can be soothing and is available at most grocery stores. For a richer, more vibrant blend, make your own by boiling water with ginger root for 5-10 minutes and flavor it with honey and lemon.