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Coping With Flu: 9 Tips to Ease Symptoms

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Tip #5: Use steam inhalations.

You can fill the bathroom sink with steaming water. Add 1 teaspoon of the over-the-counter ointment Vicks Vapo Rub to the steaming water, and then breathe in the steam for several minutes until you get relief. Another alternative is to add a few drops of oil of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) or menthol to the water. Eucalyptus may help open up bronchial tubes, ease congestion, and make breathing a little easier. There is not enough evidence, however, to say that any of these really help with the symptoms.

Tip #6: Sit in a steamy bathroom.

If you are still congested, sit in a bathroom with the door closed and allow the shower to run hot until the room fills with moist steam. Inhaling the moisture can help to open your airways. Sit away from the water to avoid burns.

Tip #7: Run the humidifier.

If the air is dry, a warm mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean, however, to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds.

Tip #8: Try soothing lozenges.

Sucking on soothing lozenges will help to moisten and coat a scratchy throat and may reduce the cough associated with flu.

Tip #9 Try saline (salt water) nasal drops.

Saline nose drops or sprays are available over-the-counter at any drug or grocery store and are effective, safe, and nonirritating, even for children. Put several drops into one nostril, and then gently blow the mucus and saline out of that nostril. Repeat the process in the opposite nostril until both are unblocked.

When Should I Call The Doctor About an Antiviral Flu Drug?

Flu drugs are taken at the onset of flu. These flu drugs may help decrease the severity and duration of flu symptoms. Contact your doctor if you have flu symptoms or were exposed to the flu, especially if you are at high risk for complications.

The CDC recommends oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), or zanamivir (Relenza). The drugs are most effective when given within 48 hours of the onset of illness. These flu medications can decrease the duration of the flu by one day if used within this early time period. They are usually given for a period of five days. They are also sometimes used to help prevent the flu in someone exposed to another person with the flu.

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