Mobile phone screens showing virtual care option for flu treatment without going to the doctor

Can you treat the flu without going to the doctor or healthcare provider?

Written on December 20, 2022 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

About the flu

The flu, or influenza, is a common and often seasonal respiratory infection of the nose, throat, and lungs [1]. The Mayo Clinic clarifies, “Influenza is commonly called the flu, but it’s not the same as stomach ‘flu’ viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting [1]."

The flu season in the US is usually during the fall and winter — when the weather starts to cool down, there is often an increase of flu infections.

Is the flu contagious?

The flu is transmitted in two ways. The first is via tiny droplets that are released into the air when someone with an active infection coughs, sneezes, or talks. When these droplets settle onto surfaces, that is the second way in which the flu can spread — touching these germs and then touching your food, face, eyes, or mouth can introduce the virus into the body [2].

How serious is the flu?

For most people, the flu is miserable but doesn’t have any major complications.

There are some groups of people who are at higher risk of these complications including [1]:

  • Young children
  • Adults older than age 65
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who are pregnant or plan to be pregnant during flu season
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • American Indians or Alaska Natives
  • People who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes
  • People with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher

The CDC explains that flu complications can include “pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, … diabetes” and for some people, can be fatal [2].

Signs and symptoms

While illnesses like the common cold may gradually develop, the flu tends to hit you like a brick wall — you might suddenly feel ill [3].

If you are unsure if you have the flu, allergies, a cold, or COVID-19, you can always use Everlywell’s Indoor & Outdoor Allergy Test or COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit to check.

The Mayo Clinic lists the following as common flu symptoms [3]:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue/sleepiness
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Eye pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Over-the-counter solutions and home remedies

If you find yourself sick with the flu and are otherwise healthy, under the age of 65, and not pregnant, you can typically care for yourself at home without seeing a healthcare provider [4].

The Mayo Clinic suggests the following at-home remedies [4]:

  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to reduce fever and muscle aches
  • Drink clear fluids (water, broth, or sports drinks)
  • Rest as needed, depending on how you feel
  • Stay home from work, school, and public places until at least one day after your fever has ended

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications

According to an informal poll of pharmacists done by US News, the five OTC products that are best for flu symptoms are Dayquil Cold & Flu, Coricidin HBP Cold & Flu, NyQuil Cold & Flu, Tylenol Cold + Flu Severe, and Theraflu [5]. With any OTC medication, you should check to make sure to read the warnings and dosage as they may not be a fit for the sick person based on their age, symptoms, or their other medications.

Telehealth: another option

If you exhibit any of the following symptoms, you should consider seeking care from a healthcare provider [3]:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Ongoing dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions
  • Severe weakness or muscle pain
  • Dehydration
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds — depending on skin color

Luckily, you don’t technically have to go to the doctor — especially now that Everlywell offers same-day video appointments with clinicians that can provide you with an immediate treatment plan and even prescribe you antivirals so that you can kick the flu to the curb.

Prescription flu treatment

With Everlywell's online flu treatment option, a provider can prescribe the following antivirals to treat influenza A and B:

  • oseltamivir (Tamiflu®)
  • zanamivir (Relenza®)
  • fperamivir (Rapivab®)

Can you get flu treatment online?

Is telehealth cheaper than an office visit?

What drugs can telehealth providers prescribe?

Remote patient monitoring for diabetes explained


  1. Influenza (flu). Mayo Clinic. Published October 15, 2022. Accessed December 15, 2022. URL
  2. Influenza (flu). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published October 24, 2022. Accessed December 15, 2022. URL
  3. Influenza (flu). Mayo Clinic. Published October 15, 2022. Accessed December 15, 2022. URL
  4. Tosh PK. Self-care for the flu. Mayo Clinic. Published August 28, 2021. Accessed December 16, 2022. URL
  5. Flu medicine: Pharmacists’ recommendations. US News and World Report. Accessed December 16, 2022. URL
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