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Influenza (Seasonal Flu) - Home Treatment

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 better:

  • 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 comfortable.
  • 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 slideshow.gif. Cough and cold medicines may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems.
    Over-the-Counter Medicine Precautions
    Quick Tips: Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines to Children
    Relieving a Cough

Call your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms improve but then seem to get worse again.
  • 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 days.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 31, 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 information.
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