With the vast amount of medications filling up pharmacy shelves, choice can be overwhelming.
Here’s what you should know about over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, herbal remedies and supplements.
*Consult your doctor before taking any medications or supplements.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. K.
What Is The Best Flu Treatment?
Taking excellent care of oneself is the first step in treating this disease. If you’re experiencing symptoms like fever, chills, pains, and general discomfort, doctors recommend resting, eating nutritious foods, and drinking more water than usual. Limit intensive exercise if you have chest congestion, a hacking cough, body pains, or a fever. Because a fever may dehydrate your body, you’ll need to replenish what you’re losing. If you don’t feel like eating, water or broth will suffice.
Do Over-the-Counter Medicines Work?
Fever reducers, antihistamines, decongestants, and cough medicines may make you feel better, but they won’t help you recover faster.
Keep an eye on the labelling. Unwanted side effects may occur with certain products. Certain individuals may experience sleepiness as a result of antihistamines. As a result, they’re usually only present in cold medicines used at night. Decongestants may increase blood pressure. Therefore they should be avoided if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. They may make you feel agitated or worried, or they could keep you up at night.
A fever, according to some doctors, is your body’s protective mechanism as it kills the flu virus. Does this mean that using a fever-relieving drug may extend your time to recover? With a moderate fever, maybe a bit (less than 38C). If you’re in a foul mood, though, you may as well take one. These medicines may be helpful to the elderly, and those with heart or lung issues since fever makes your heart and lungs work harder. Contact your doctor if your fever is high or doesn’t go down after 2 or 3 days to see whether an office visit is required.
It may also be helpful to use products that treat several symptoms. Choose a medicine that just treats one or two difficulties if you only have one or two problems.
The Flu and Kids
If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact a doctor immediately:
- Is under the age of three months and has a fever of 38 Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) or higher
- Is between the ages of 3 and 36 months old and has a fever of 39 Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher
- Has a temperature of more than 40 Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit)?
- Is sick, sleepy, or fussy, not behaving normally, or has a fever that lasts longer than 24 hours (in a kid under the age of 2) or three days (in an older child), or a temperature that continues rising.
- Has additional medical issues, symptoms, or is having a seizure
- Vomiting or stomach ache
- A ringing in the ears or other symptoms that aren’t typical of the flu
Doctors recommend giving your child acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium over-the-counter (OTC) for body pains. Anyone under the age of 19 should not be given aspirin. It’s related to Reye’s syndrome, a life-threatening disease affecting children and teenagers. Take ibuprofen with meals to prevent stomach discomfort.
Children under the age of four should not be given over-the-counter cough medications as the flu treatment. They are ineffective. Honey-based cough syrups are effective. You may use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey as required once your kid becomes one year old. It may help thin mucus and alleviate coughing. Honey should never be given to children under one year since it is harmful to them.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you with the flu treatment and alleviate your symptoms. However, you should take them within the first 48 hours after feeling unwell. Baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza) and oseltamivir (Tamiflu) are oral medicines, whereas zanamivir (Relenza) is inhaled and peramivir (Rapivab) is injected. If your condition is severe or one of the following individuals, your doctor may be more inclined to prescribe one.
- Children under the age of five
- Adults aged 65 and up
- People who suffer from asthma, diabetes, or other serious diseases
- Women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last two weeks
- Residents in nursing homes
- Alaska Natives/Native Americans
- Obese individuals
- Immune-compromised individuals
Oscillococcinum is well-liked in Europe and is gaining popularity in the United States. Studies have proven to reduce the duration of your flu and relieve your symptoms, but there is no evidence that it prevents the flu.
You’ve probably heard of echinacea, but new research hasn’t been able to determine if it helps with colds or the flu. One stumbling block is that no one knows whether echinacea species, plant component, active substance, or dosage is optimal. If you’re allergic to ragweed, don’t take it.
According to some studies, elderberry extract may assist if taken during the first 24 to 48 hours after you start to experience flu symptoms. If you take it for five days or less, there are no known harmful effects. It’s best not to consume the plant since it may make you sick.
Other herbal treatments to consider if you have the flu include:
- Slick elm lozenges may assist with sore throats and coughing caused by all that gunk flowing down the back of your throat. (This is referred to as postnasal drip by doctors.)
- Ginger tea may alleviate nausea.
- One word of caution: there is no substantial evidence that these natural remedies are effective against the flu.
- In addition, strength varies significantly from one product to the next. It’s difficult to tell whether a herb helps or if you’re receiving enough of it to assist. Choose those verified by a third party, such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).
Before taking a flu treatment, talk to your doctor about how it may affect how your other medicines function. Always inform your doctor about any medications you’re taking, whether they’re prescribed or not.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Many studies on flu treatment indicate vitamin C and zinc may help relieve cold symptoms and perhaps reduce the duration of the illness, but there isn’t much evidence that they can help cure the flu.
- Mayo Clinic: “Fitness;” “Fever;” “Ginseng;” and “Cold remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t, What Can’t Hurt.”
- Medline Plus: “Fever.”
- Stanford University Vaden Health Center: “What You Should Know About Medications.”
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): “Homeopathic Oscillococcinum for Preventing and Treating Influenza and Influenza-Like Syndromes.”
- Lissiman, E.Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2009; issue 3.
- Johns Hopkins: “Symptoms and Remedies.”
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
- American Academy of Pediatrics.