How to Get over the Flu

Three Methods:Diagnosing the FluTreating the SymptomsUsing Home Remedies

Getting the flu is never fun, but you can take steps to make sure you recover as quickly as possible. Visit your doctor for treatment and medication, and then treat your symptoms at home with over-the-counter medications. Also, you can employ some home remedies to make sure you are comfortable and heal quickly.

Method 1
Diagnosing the Flu

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    Check your symptoms. People with a cold or the flu can have similar symptoms, such as a runny nose, a sore throat, or a cough. However, you're more likely to be achy and run a fever with the flu, and you're also more likely to have chest discomfort and a headache.[1]
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    Go to the doctor for Tamiflu. If you've only had your symptoms for a day or two, then Tamiflu, a antiviral drug, can help you get better faster, as well as prevent you from getting the flu if people around you are sick.[2]
    • Since the flu is a virus, it isn't strictly necessary for you to go to the doctor immediately, as the virus will usually run its course without extra help.[3] Nonetheless, if you want to get over the virus more quickly, Tamiflu can reduce the time you're sick as well the severity of the sickness.[4]
    • Go to the doctor if you have shortness of breath or chest pains or if you can't keep fluids down due to vomiting.[5]
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    Ask for drug recommendations. Your doctor can help you decide on the best over-the-counter drug options to treat the symptoms. You can also ask your pharmacist for help.
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    Go to your doctor if symptoms worsen. If you have complications such as a continuous high fever over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or chest pains, talk to your doctor.[6]
    • The flu should only last about 5 to 7 days, so check with your doctor if your symptoms linger.[7]
    • Complications from the flu can include strep throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, and other infections. Seek treatment if you suspect you have one of these complications.[8]

Method 2
Treating the Symptoms

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    Take a pain medication such as acetaminophen. A pain medication can keep you more comfortable by reducing the pain of a sore throat and achy muscles.[9] It will also reduce your fever.[10]
    • Don't double dose. Many flu and cold medications contain acetaminophen, so don't take it separately unless you're sure it's not in your other medications. Check the labels for the drug, as medications must list the individual drugs and dosages on the package.
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    Use nasal sprays. Nasal sprays can relieve congestion.
    • Nasal decongestant sprays contain medications to help with congestion. They are safe to use any time of day, even at night, as they only affect the nose. Be sure to follow the time schedule on the back of the bottle. Pill decongestants can make you jittery, keeping you awake, but sprays won't because they work locally.[11] However, you should stop using them after 3 days, as after that amount of time, they can make congestion worse.[12]
    • Nasal saline sprays can be used in conjunction with decongestant sprays because they do not contain medications, just sterile saltwater. They can loosen mucus and provide moisture to nasal membranes. They can also partially clear out the virus and bacteria from the nose.[13]
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    Try an antihistamine. Antihistamines can reduce symptoms such as a runny nose or watery eyes. However, be aware that some antihistamines can make you drowsy.[14]
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    Use a cough syrup. Cough syrups can help with many flu symptoms, making you more comfortable.[15]
    • Cough suppressants lessen the effects of a dry cough.[16]
    • Cough expectorants are best for a wet cough that produces mucus. Expectorants bring up mucus from the chest, relieving congestion. Bringing up that mucus can help you get over the sickness faster.[17]
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    Try a multi-symptom medication. Many over-the-counter medications treat multiple symptoms at once and can simplify the process, such as Nyquil.
    • When using a medication like Nyquil, always check what medications are in it before taking anything else. For instance, Nyquil Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid has a cough suppressant, a pain reliever, and an antihistamine in it, so you wouldn't want to take those medications separately while taking Nyquil.

Method 3
Using Home Remedies

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    Get plenty of rest. Your body needs rest to fight off the virus, as rest gives your immune system time and energy to work.[18]
    • One way to sleep better is to lightly elevate the top half of your body with pillows, making breathing easier.[19]
    • Another way to get better sleep is to relax before bed with teas such as chamomile.[20]
    • Nasal strips relieve congestion at night, making it easier to sleep.[21]
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    Take time off. You'll get more rest at home, and stress can make symptoms worse. Also, you won't infect colleagues if you stay home.[22]
    • You're generally contagious for 24 hours before you show symptoms and for 5 to 7 days after you begin showing symptoms.[23]
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    Use steam. Try fresh ginger chopped with hot water poured over it. Place your head over the bowl with a towel over your head. You can also add Vicks VapoRub to the water in place of the ginger.[24] Hot beverages and soup also help, especially if you try to breathe in the steam as you drink or eat them. Steam helps break up congestion.
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    Try chicken noodle soup. It turns out that chicken noodle soup does help with colds and flu. Like hot beverages, the steam breaks up congestion. However, it provides other benefits, as well. The amino acid cysteine in chicken is similar to a bronchitis drug, which may explain why soup soothes symptoms.[25]
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    Jump in the shower. A hot shower can also help congestion through steam, and it can soothe achy muscles, as well. Take a few deep breaths of the steam while showering to cut through congestion.[26]
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    Use a humidifier. Humidifier moisten nasal passages and help with congestion at night.[27]
    • Be sure to clean it twice a week, change the water daily, and use distilled water. Humidifiers can be breeding grounds for bacteria and mold, which can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms.[28]
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    Add honey to your tea. Honey can reduce irritation in the throat, which can decrease dry coughing.[29]
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    Gargle saltwater. Gargling soothes a sore throat.[30] Add a small amount of salt to water, and dissolve the salt. Use it to rinse out the back of your throat, and then spit the water out.
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    Drink your liquids. Staying hydrated breaks up thick mucus, making you less congested.[31]
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    Wash your hands often. While washing your hands reduces your chances of infecting other people, it also stops you from catching something else while you're recovering.[32]
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    Try zinc or a supplement with ginseng. Zinc and ginseng can strengthen your immune symptom. However, you shouldn't take more than 50 milligrams of zinc a day, as it can actually suppress your immune system if you take too much.[33]


  • Clean up after yourself to reduce the likelihood of infecting others. Wipe down handles with antibacterial wipes, cover your mouth when sneezing and coughing, and promptly throw away tissues.


  • Always consult with your doctor if your unsure about taking a particular medication.

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Colds and Viruses