Young woman experiencing flu symptoms and wondering how to get rid of the flu ASAP

How do I get rid of the flu ASAP?

Written on December 21, 2022 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. 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.

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Getting the flu is no fun at all. The flu can cause a range of mild to severe symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and tiredness [1,2]. The flu symptoms can make you feel super tired and miserable, and all you want to do is curl up in bed and take a nap. It would be nice if you could get over the flu as soon as possible.

About the flu virus

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus [2,3]. Two main influenza viruses (type A and B) cause the disease by infecting the nose, throat, and lungs through contaminated droplets from people with the flu [1-3]. The tiny, infected droplets are spread by coughing, sneezing, or talking [1-3]. It is estimated that the flu has caused up to 41 million illnesses, 710,000 hospitalizations, and 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020 [2,3].

Not only does the flu illness make you feel awful, but it also has a significant impact on overall costs and productivity. One statistic reported that the annual cost of flu-related absences from work equates to $42,851 per 100,000 employee-health plan members [5]. It’s also found that among employees with flu-like illnesses, the average absenteeism was reported to be approximately 2 to 3 days [5].

Tips to get rid of the flu ASAP

Most of the time, the flu can be mild and managed at home [6]. The flu symptoms can come on abruptly and begin 1 or 2 days after being exposed to the flu virus [7]. You may wonder, “How do I get rid of the flu ASAP?” Here are six tips to help you recover from the flu quickly [2,6-11].

  1. Get plenty of rest. After a nice long nap, you'll feel so much better. More sleep and rest can support your immune system and help your body fight the viral flu infection. It’s also recommended to stay home, away from other people, for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone to avoid infecting others.
  2. Stay hydrated. Having high fevers can make you sweaty and dehydrated. Therefore, it’s essential to drink enough water and fluids (teas, clear soups, warm lemon water with honey). Drinking plenty of fluids can help with thinning out the mucus in your nasal and sinus passages and ease congestion during a flu illness.
  3. Try over-the-counter medications for symptom relief. Over-the-counter meds can help reduce fever and pain during the flu. You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lessen your fever and pain. You can also consider using saline nasal rinses to help moisten and alleviate congested nasal passages to help you breathe easier.
  4. Use a humidifier. Humidifiers release water vapor or steam into the air to increase moisture. Cool-mist humidifiers help to ease symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as the flu. Be sure to appropriately maintain and clean your humidifiers regularly to eliminate the growth of mold or bacteria. Using distilled water rather than tap water in humidifiers can help limit mineral deposits and bacterial and mold growth.
  5. Obtain antiviral medication from your healthcare provider. Currently, four antiviral drugs are FDA approved and recommended by the CDC to treat the flu. The antivirals work best when taken within two days of the onset of symptoms. Antiviral drugs may shorten the length of your illness by a day and help avoid serious complications.
  6. Get the flu vaccine. The best strategy to combat the flu is to prevent getting the flu in the first place. The flu vaccine has been shown to not only prevent the flu illness and minimize the symptoms but also reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and death associated with the flu infection.

High-risk groups and serious complications

Certain people can be at an increased risk of having a more severe flu illness [2,6]. If you are 65 years or older, pregnant, or have a chronic condition such as diabetes, you may be at a higher risk for complications. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know if you are high risk and think you may have the flu. Please consult your healthcare provider for any severe or concerning symptoms.

Listed here for awareness are emergency warning signs and symptoms. Please seek medical help right away if you experience any of these [6]:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent chest/abdomen pain or pressure
  • Continued dizziness, confusion, or inability to rouse
  • Seizures
  • Severe weakness
  • Fever or cough that returns or worsens
  • Worsening chronic medical conditions

Speak with a healthcare provider via Everlywell

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, consider speaking with a healthcare provider. You can check in on your health and wellness with Everlywell. Everlywell uses a telehealth program to offer flu treatment online, giving you access to providers who can help. Learn more about Everlywell and what is available for you.

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What is the best treatment for flu at home?

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  1. Key facts about influenza (flu). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published October 24, 2022. Accessed December 17, 2022.
  2. Uyeki TM, Bernstein HH, Bradley JS, et al. Clinical practice guidelines by the infectious diseases society of America: 2018 update on diagnosis, treatment, chemoprophylaxis, and institutional outbreak management of seasonal influenza A. Clin Infect Dis. 2019;68(6):895-902. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy874. URL
  3. About flu. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published September 20, 2022. Accessed December 17, 2022.
  4. Disease burden of flu. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published October 4, 2022. Accessed December 17, 2022.
  5. Zumofen MB, Frimpter J, Hansen SA. Impact of influenza and influenza-like illness on work productivity outcomes: a systematic literature review. Pharmacoeconomics. 2022:1–21. doi: 10.1007/s40273-022-01224-9. URL
  6. Flu: what to do if you get sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published December 15, 2022. Accessed December 17, 2022.
  7. Self-care for the flu. Mayo Clinic. URL. Published August 28, 2021. Accessed December 17, 2022.
  8. Influenza (flu). Mayo Clinic. URL. Published October 15, 2022. Accessed December 17, 2022.
  9. Humidifiers: why you might need them. Mayo Clinic. URL. Published June 8, 2021. Accessed December 17, 2022.
  10. What you should know about flu antiviral drugs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published December 15, 2022. Accessed December 17, 2022.
  11. Studies show flu vaccine reduces risk of hospitalization in children and death in adults. Infectious Diseases Society of America. URL. Accessed December 17, 2022.
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