It’s that time of year again – flu season is in full swing. As you probably know, the best way to combat flu is to prevent it from spreading in the first place. That means being aware of how the virus spreads, and taking extra precautions to keep yourself (and your family) safe. Frequent hand washing is important, as well as covering one’s mouth while coughing or sneezing. If you or a family member are sick, it’s far better to stay at home and rest, rather than participating in normal daily activities and subjecting others to the virus.
But no matter how hard you try to prevent flu, it’s always possible the virus will sneak through your defenses and you (or someone you love) will come down with influenza. If and when that happens, the question becomes: How do you bring about the fastest possible recovery?
The first thing to understand is that antibiotics will not help flu. It’s a popular misconception that taking a course of antibiotic medication will help “rid” the flu virus from your system, but there is actually no truth in this. Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections – not viral infections. Since influenza is a virus, antibiotics will have no effect – aside from normal side effects that will make you feel ever more “under the weather.”
So what are the practical things you can do to recover faster from influenza?
In truth, the only thing that can actually speed up the body’s ability to fight and eliminate the virus is prescription antiviral medication. Generally speaking, and when taken as directed, this kind of medication can often shorten your recovery time by a few days. If you’re visiting the doctor for a possible case of flu, be sure to let them know about any medications the patient is currently taking, as this may effect whether or not antiviral therapy is safe in this particular case.
Aside from antiviral therapy, rest is the most common and most effective way to recover from flu. During this period of rest, it’s best to abstain from unhealthy habits and foods – and of course to drink plenty of liquids. Depending on your symptoms, over-the-counter medicines can help ease symptoms and make the patient more comfortable as the body fights off the virus. Abundant rest and sleep are what allow the body to focus on eliminating the influenza virus from its system.
What to do if you suspect influenza
In many cases, bed rest is the only practical course of action – both for the person suffering flu, and for others who might contract it from them in daily life. The body’s natural defenses are, in most cases, sufficient to fight off the flu virus in a reasonably short time. For small children, the elderly, or people with weaker immune systems – also for people experiencing severe flu symptoms – a visit to Family First Urgent Care is highly recommended. Family First providers have immense experience when it comes to detecting and treating the flu and use diagnostic tests to determine whether or not flu is present. If so, antiviral medicines can be prescribed to shorten the duration of the illness.