What can I do at home to recover from the flu?
Answer From Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.
Flu symptoms generally begin about one or two days after your exposure to the virus and may seem to hit you suddenly. Among healthy people, flu symptoms vary in severity. Signs and symptoms range from a sore throat and runny nose to fever, chills and muscle aches. Flu symptoms can generally be treated at home with supportive care.
Flu symptoms can make you feel awful. But if you're otherwise healthy, younger than age 65, and not pregnant, you can generally take care of yourself at home rather than going to your doctor. Try these remedies:
- Take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to reduce fever and muscle aches. Don't give products containing aspirin to children or teens recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
- Drink clear fluids, such as water, broth or sports drinks.
- Rest as needed or change some of your activities, depending on your symptoms.
To avoid infecting other people, stay home from work, school and other public places for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medications. Most people feel better within a week of becoming infected with the flu virus. However, coughing may last for another one or two weeks.
Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.
Aug. 28, 2021
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See more Expert Answers
- Flu symptoms & complications. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm. Accessed May 10, 2021.
- Flu: What to do if sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/treatment/takingcare.htm. Accessed May 10, 2021.
- Jameson JL, et al., eds. Influenza. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 20th ed. McGraw Hill; 2018. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed May 10, 2021.
- Treatment of seasonal influenza in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed May 10, 2021.
- AskMayoExpert. Influenza. Mayo Clinic; 2020.
- AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. Recommendations for prevention and control of influenza in children, 2017-2018. Pediatrics. 2017; doi:10.1542/peds.2017-2550.
- Sullivan JE, et al. Clinical report — Fever and antipyretic use in children. Pediatrics. 2011; doi:10.1542/peds.2010-3852. Reaffirmed July 2016.
- Labeling of drug preparations containing salicylates. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=76be002fc0488562bf61609b21a6b11e&mc=true&node=se21.4.201_1314&rgn=div8. Accessed Feb. 22, 2018.
- Renaud DL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Feb. 27, 2018.