Get Treatment Quickly
If you suspect you have the flu, the best thing to do is call your doctor or go to your local walk-in care center to be tested for flu and to seek treatment. The rapid influenza test returns results within about 15 minutes. If you test positive for flu, request a prescription for zanamivir (Relenza) or oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Each is an effective treatment for flu known to reduce the severity of symptoms and the course of the illness. The key, though, is that both medicines must be started within 24 to 48 hours of symptom onset.
Whether or not you have been officially diagnosed with the flu, it is critical that you rest to recover from the flu. Between the fatigue, fever, chills and respiratory symptoms, you're unlikely to be able to do anything but lay around. Listen to your body and rest. When you begin to feel better, resist the urge to immediately return to the rhythm of daily living. If you do so too soon you could suffer a relapse. Maintain yourself on bed rest for at least 72 hours after your temperature has returned to normal.
Cover Up or Take a Soak
Chills are another signature flu symptom. The best treatment to alleviate chills is to add layers of clothing and blankets. Wear a pair of socks to bed. Wrap yourself in another robe. Throw an quilt on the bed. If all that fails, take a hot soak in the tub or shower. Remember, though, that soaking in a hot tub is not a good idea if you are running a high fever. It will cause your fever to elevate even further.
Drink to Your Recovery
If you have flu, you likely have a fever. It is normal for fever to result in a loss of appetite. Don't worry about eating solids until you feel like it. What you do need to ensure is that you keep yourself well hydrated to recover from the flu. It's best to avoid dairy, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. These contribute to mucous production and dehydration. Caffeine-free gingerale, tea, water and broth are all excellent options. Let ice pops or ice chips melt in your mouth if a sore throat is making it tough to swallow. Watch for the signs of dehydration, including a dry mouth, chapped or cracked lips, sunken eyes and reduced urination.
Use Over-the-Counter Treatments With Care
The risk of using over-the-counter flu remedies is that most combine ingredients, and it's easy to unintentionally overdose. Many such remedies contain acetaminophen, and if you take a few different flu medicines it can result in acetaminophen poisoning. Without emergency treatment, acetaminophen poisoning can result in liver failure and death in just a few days. Your best bet is to use over-the-counter medicines as a last resort and limit the number of remedies you use simultaneously. Avoid all over-the-counter medications that contain aspirin. Aspirin-containing products have been shown to cause Reye's Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition, in both children and adults. Look for the term "aspirin" on the packaging or "acetylsalicylic acid" in the ingredient list. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are okay to use in moderation to treat the fever and muscle aches associated with flu.