If you have
influenza, you can expect the illness to go away on
its own in about 7 to 10 days. In the meantime, you can take steps to feel
Get extra rest. Bed rest can help you feel
better. It will also help you avoid spreading the virus to others.
Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost from fever. Fluids also ease a
scratchy throat and keep nasal mucus thin. Water, soup, fruit
juice, and hot tea with lemon are all good choices.
If fever is uncomfortable, sponge your body with
lukewarm water to reduce fever. Do not use cold water or ice. Lowering the
fever will not make your symptoms go away faster, but it may make you more
To help clear a stuffy nose, breathe moist air from a hot
shower or from a sink filled with hot water.
If the skin around your nose and lips becomes sore from
repeated rubbing with tissues, apply a bit of petroleum jelly to the area.
Using disposable tissues that contain lotion also may help.
Elevate your head at night with an extra pillow if
coughing keeps you awake.
Avoid smoking and breathing secondhand smoke. This is good
advice anytime, but it is especially important when you have a respiratory
infection like a cold or the flu.
Try an over-the-counter medicine to help relieve your symptoms. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Cough and cold medicines may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems.
To relieve body aches and headache or to lower fever, try
acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give.
For a stuffy nose, try a nasal or oral decongestant (such as Afrin or Sudafed PE) or a steroid nasal spray (such as Nasacort). Do not use a nasal decongestant longer than the label says. Overuse can cause a "rebound effect". It makes your mucous membranes swell up more than before you used the spray.
If you have a dry, hacking cough, you can try a cough suppressant to help stop the cough reflex.
To soothe a sore throat, use throat lozenges or plain, hard candy.
They do not treat flu symptoms and may make nasal drainage
Your symptoms improve but then seem to get
You have symptoms of a bacterial infection, such as
a new or worse cough that produces yellow, green, rust-colored, or bloody
mucus; persistent fever, ear pain, sore throat, sinus pain, or productive
cough; or nasal drainage that changes from clear to colored after 7 to 10
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this