Ease flu symptoms

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Diane Sieker photo

The flu is here, and there’s no cure. The virus strikes both young and old, making the patient miserable with aches, pains, congestion, fever and that feeling they’ve been hit by a Mack truck and tumbled down a cliff.

People who are 65 and older or those younger than 2 years of age can be at increased risk of serious complications from the flu, along with people with chronic conditions of the lungs, heart, kidney, liver or their immune system. Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are also at higher risk for complications from the flu.

While the virus that causes the flu is hard to beat, there are many things that can be done to ease the symptoms while it runs its course.

Home remedies can help reduce symptoms so sick people can be more comfortable and rest more easily while fighting the flu. Rest has a big impact on getting better faster.

It may be hard to stay home from work or school, but it really is imperative to get plenty of sleep and not risk infecting classmates or co-workers.

Fever is the body’s way of trying to kill the virus by overheating it. This response results in aches and soreness. Treating a fever, aches and pains can be done with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen. Treat a cough with over-the-counter remedies as well.

Drink more liquids – fruit juices, water, flavored water, herbal teas, sports drinks and broth-based soups. The extra liquid keeps the respiratory system hydrated and helps turn that thick mucus into a thin liquid that patients can cough up and spit out. Sick people can also become dehydrated if they aren’t eating or drinking normally. Diarrhea and fever can also cause severe water loss as well, so it is important to replenish liquids.

Create a steam room in the bathroom. The moist, warm air helps ease congestion and coughs. A humidifier works similarly.

Saline nose drops or sprays are available over-the-counter at any drug or grocery store. They work, and they’re safe.

The Center for Disease Control recommends baloxavir marboxil, sold as Xofluza; oseltamivir, sold as Tamiflu; Peramivir, sold as Rapivab, or zanamivir, sold as Relenza, when flu symptoms first appear or someone has been exposed. The drugs work best when taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms or exposure and may shorten the course of the illness.

Eat a bland diet. People with the stomach flu should consume small amounts of food at a time. Easy to digest foods are a must, such as bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, crackers, cooked cereals, gelatin, boiled potatoes, soft boiled eggs and well-cooked chicken. Avoid dairy products, spicy, fatty or fried foods and alcohol.

It is time to see the doctor if a person suffers an earache, drainage from their ear, pain in their face or forehead along with thick yellow or green mucus for more than a week, a temperature 100.4 F or higher in an infant less than three months of age, temperature higher than 102 F in older children or adults, hoarseness, sore throat or a cough that won’t go away, wheezing, shortness of breath or vomiting.

The flu can sometimes lead to deadly health complications. It can trigger other viral and bacterial infections in the lungs, throat, ears and other areas, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections or encephalitis. Seek urgent medical attention if your symptoms have not improved after one to two weeks.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.