Skip to content

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

How to Treat the Flu

Font Size

If you have flu symptoms -- fever, chills, aches, malaise, and perhaps vomiting -- doctors say it’s important to rest, try to eat nourishing food, and drink more fluids than you ordinarily do. Fever can be dehydrating, and drinking more helps you replace what is lost. Water is fine, as is broth, especially if you don’t have much of an appetite. 

If you don’t feel much like moving around, it’s fine to stay in bed. Get up when you feel you can. You should not exercise if you have chest congestion, a hacking cough, body aches, or fever. For flu, it’s best to give your body a rest.

Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

Swine Flu: 10 Things Not to Do

Swine flu (H1N1) has been in the news since it first appeared this spring, and while there have been deaths and hospitalizations in countries worldwide, most cases have been relatively mild. And now, there is an H1N1 swine flu vaccine, too. That's the good news. But the bad news is, swine flu can still be serious, and it's still widespread. With that in mind, here are 10 swine flu "don'ts" -- things not to do for swine flu prevention.

Read the Swine Flu: 10 Things Not to Do article > >

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Over-the-counter (OTC) fever reducers, antihistamines, decongestants, and cough medicines may help you feel better, but these products won’t help you recover any faster.

Read labels carefully before buying. Some products may cause potentially troubling side effects. For example, some antihistamines can make you drowsy. That’s why they’re usually only in nighttime cold medicines. And since decongestants can increase blood pressure, they can be a poor choice for people with heart disease or high blood pressure. Decongestants may also make some people feel jittery or nervous or result in insomnia.

Some doctors believe that fever, unpleasant as it may be, helps deactivate the viruses that cause influenza. Does that mean that taking medicine to bring down your fever will slow your recovery? With a mild fever (less than 100 degrees), maybe a little.  But if you feel very uncomfortable you may want to take fever reducers anyway. And because fever stresses the heart and lungs, fever reducers may be appropriate for older people and those with heart or lung disease. If your fever is high or doesn’t resolve after two or three days, call your doctor to see if you need to go in.  

For children, seeking medical help depends on their age and symptoms. Call the doctor if:

 

  • The child is under 3 months old and has a fever of 100.4 or higher
  • The child is between 3 and 12 months old and has a fever of 102.2 degrees or higher
  • The child's fever is higher than 104 degrees 

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
 
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
 
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
Slideshow
cold weather
VIDEO
 
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Article
Boy holding ear
Slideshow
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman receiving vaccine shot
Article
woman with fever
Article
 
Waking up from sleep
Article
woman with sore throat
Slideshow