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Is There a Natural Way to Treat the Flu?

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What Can Soothe a Dry Cough?

Hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, prevent dehydration, and soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat. If you're so congested you can't sleep at night, try a hot toddy, an age-old remedy.

Make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add one teaspoon of honey and one small shot (about 1 ounce) of whiskey or bourbon. Limit yourself to one. Too much alcohol inflames those membranes and works against what you are trying to do.

Are There Natural Supplements to Treat Flu Symptoms?

There are various dietary supplements that are purported to ease flu symptoms, yet none have scientific substantiation. It's important to talk with your doctor before using any natural dietary supplement with flu.

Some natural herbal products can cause allergic reactions. Other natural products may interfere with prescribed medications you're taking. A few natural products have been found to cause liver damage, so use caution.

If you are uncertain about the claims on a natural dietary supplement product label, call your doctor. A health care professional can assess the product to let you know what it contains.

What Can I Do When Flu Symptoms Hit?

Even though there's no natural cure for flu, you can manage flu symptoms by using common sense and pampering yourself a bit during the illness. Here are some tips:

  • Call your doctor within 48 hours of noticing flu symptoms and ask about antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs help decrease flu symptoms and may shorten the duration of the flu if taken early in the illness.
  • Get plenty of rest. Your body needs added rest to fight the viral infection.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is important when you have fever, and you may need increased liquids to ensure this.
  • Breathe steam. A steamy shower or a bowl of steaming water can help add moisture to dry throats and nasal passages.
  • Seek medical advice. If your flu symptoms worsen or if you have a chronic medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, COPD, asthma, or AIDS/HIV, call your doctor. Your doctor can medically assess your symptoms to see if you might need medication or other treatment.
  • Remember, antibiotics can't help fight the flu virus. In fact, they may lead to antibiotic resistance if taken inappropriately. 
  • Eat a nutritious diet to maximize your immune defenses with the flu.
  • Get plenty of restful sleep -- seven to nine hours.
  • Keep the flu to yourself. Stay away from family members, colleagues, and friends, because you are contagious for five days after flu symptoms start.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD, PhD on June 21, 2012
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