Fitness Facts: What to do for a cold or the flu
By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services
So you are sick with a cold or the flu. Now what?
Here are some self-care tips to manage your symptoms and put you on the road to recovery.
Flu symptoms can make you feel terrible. But if you are otherwise healthy, younger than age 65 and not pregnant, you generally can take care of yourself at home rather than going to your doctor.
Try these remedies:
- Take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to reduce fever and muscle aches. Do not give products containing aspirin to children or teens recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
- To boost your immune response: Elderberry Tincture or Zinc/Elderberry, or Vitamin C (Emergen-C, Airborne)
- Gargle salt water (1/2 teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of water) for sore throat
- For sore throat, drink hot or very cold liquids
- Drink clear fluids, such as water, broth or sports drinks.
- If you are feeling congested, sit in the bathroom with the door closed. Let the shower run hot until the room fills with moist steam. This should open your sinus passages and allow you to breath more clearly.
- Use a mist humidifier or vaporizer in the room where you sleep. It can moisten it to help ease congestion and coughs. Do not use a warm mist because it can promote the growth of bacteria and molds. Also, make sure to keep the device clean to prevent mold.
- Saline nose drops or sprays are available over the counter at any drugstore or grocery store. They work, they’re safe – even for kids. Put several drops into one nostril and gently blow the mucus and saline out. Repeat the process on the other side until both are unblocked.
- Sucking on soothing lozenges will moisten and coat a scratchy throat. It may quiet your cough,
- Per the Mayo Clinic: Raw honey alone may be an effective cough suppressant, too. In one study, children ages 1 to 5 with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) of honey at bedtime. The honey seemed to reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep.
- Rest as needed or change some of your activities, depending on your symptoms. Take advantage of down time and give your body some much needed rest. Curl up on the couch and spend some time reading, watching movies and take a nap while your body battles the virus.
To avoid infecting other people, stay home from work, school and other public places for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medications. Most people feel better within a week of becoming infected with the flu virus. However, coughing may last for another one or two weeks.
Also, know when to call the doctor!
- Pain in your face or forehead along with thick yellow or green mucus for more than a week
- A temperature 100.4 F or higher in an infant less than 3 months of age
- Temperature higher than 102 F in older children or adults
- Hoarseness, sore throat or cough that will not go away
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or drainage from your ear(s)
- Vomiting with or without diarrhea that lasts more and a few hours
- Any symptoms that get worse or will not go away
Call 911 or seek emergency help for trouble breathing or increased shortness of breath, confusion, sudden dizziness, stiff neck chest pain, seizure, extreme fussiness in a baby or trouble waking a baby.
Don’t ask for antibiotics. They work only against infections caused by bacteria. The flu is a viral infection.