If you're one of those people who brag, come flu season, that you "never, ever get sick," be aware: The odds may catch up to you. Every year, about 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get influenza, according to estimates from the CDC.
Taking certain antiviral drugs within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms can shorten the duration of the flu, but that involves recognizing you have the flu, getting in touch with your doctor, and going to the pharmacist before the 48 hours is up.
Just in case your number...
Feeling bad isn’t any fun, but it means your healing process is at work to fight the flu. A fever kills the virus by making your body hotter than normal. That also helps germ-killing proteins in your blood get where they need to be more quickly. So if you run a slight fever for a day or two, you could get well faster.
Coughing is another symptom with purpose. It helps clear the thick mucus in your airways that carry germs to your lungs and the rest of your body.
Should I Treat Congestion?
That stuffy nose is best treated mildly or not at all. A decongestant slows the flow to the blood vessels in your nose and throat. But often you want an increased blood flow because it warms the infected area and helps all that gunk clear the germs from your body.
One natural remedy is to drink more water. It makes mucus thinner and easier to get rid of when you cough or blow. Your sinuses drain better when you’re not all dried out, and if the stuff in them is moving, it’s less likely to get infected.
Do Salt Water Sprays or Rinses Help?
Yes. A rinse can help break up congestion and remove bacteria and parts of the virus from your nose. You can buy an over-the-counter saline spray or use this recipe:
Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in 8 ounces of warm water. Lean over the bathroom sink. Gently squirt the solution in your nostril using a bulb syringe. Hold the other side of your nose closed with your finger. Let the mix drain out. Repeat two to three times, and then do the same with the other side.