By: Tywanna Hamilton, CRNP
You’re coughing, sneezing and running a fever. You’ve been bitten by “the bug.”
Colds and flu are caused by viruses. There’s no cure once you’ve been infected – antibiotics don’t work on viruses — but there are things you can do to reduce the misery and speed up your recovery.
Once you’re sick, it’s best to go home and wait it out. Trying to push through illness can make it last longer and put others at risk for infection. At home, you should:
- Get plenty of bed rest
- Avoid physical exertion
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration. Avoid alcohol (it dehydrates you and may interact badly with medicine) and caffeine (it can keep you from resting)
Try home remedies
Some home remedies can help you feel better by clearing your nasal and throat passages, and easing headaches and sore throat:
- Use a neti pot or similar device to rinse the nasal passages with saline
- Drink hot green, black, or herbal tea
- Gargle with hot salt water for a sore throat
- Run a humidifier to moisten dry air
- Take a hot shower to let steam loosen congestion
- Put a hot compress on your forehead or nose for headache or sinus pain
Use over-the-counter medicine
Over-the-counter medicines can’t cure a cold or flu, but they can reduce your symptoms and make you feel better. There are dozens of options to reduce fever and pain, relieve congestion, quiet coughs, and ease a sore throat. Keep in mind, however, that some over-the-counter medicine may cause side effects, or they may react badly with other medication you’re taking. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure they’re safe for you.
Take antiviral drugs for the flu
Antiviral drugs don’t cure the flu, but they can help prevent it, ease your symptoms and shorten the time you have it. For antivirals to treat the flu, they need to be started in the first two days after your symptoms appear. They are only available by prescription, so ask your doctor if an antiviral can help you.
These treatments can really help when you’ve been bitten by the bug. Your doctor may have other suggestions, so ask about ways you can get better faster.
Tywanna Hamilton, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Prairie View A&M University. Ms. Hamilton is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She cares for patients at the Arundel Mills office.