Sunday, October 1, 2023

How To Treat The Flu Over The Counter

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Preventing The Stomach Flu

Do Over-the-Counter Flu Remedies Work?

If you know the stomach flu is going around, take extra precautions. Avoid close contact with infected people if possible and wash your hands frequently.

Some basic ways to avoid getting the stomach flu include washing your hands regularly and getting plenty of rest. Here are additional methods of prevention:

  • Use the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand when possible.
  • Use soap and water instead of hand sanitizer.
  • Keep a sick family member isolated. Try to restrict them to one bathroom, and have the rest of the household use another.
  • Wipe off shopping cart handles.
  • Clean countertops and surfaces with a disinfectant spray, and be sure to wash clothes and bedding as well.

When Should Antiviral Drugs Be Taken For Treatment

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be beneficial, especially if the sick person is at higher risk of serious flu complications or is in the hospital with more severe illness. Follow instructions for taking these drugs.

Is It The Flu Or A Cold

The CDC has a great chart to help decipher between the common cold and influenza. Sometimes youll never know what is in your house and body unless you go in and get tested to identify the virus of cause. But in general, influenza causes a more abrupt onset of illness. Youre fine and then, BAMMO. Influenza often causes severe cold symptoms, a high fever, runny nose, cough, congestion, and can lead to things like pneumonia, ear infections, long-lasting fever, dehydration, etc. Young children are at a higher risk for more serious disease than older children, so parents should check in with their physician if they are concerned about their infant or toddlers infection when the flu is peaking.

Most of the time children just look crummy when they get the flu: tired, clingy, feverish, coughing, and lack energy. If this comes on suddenly or parents worry about dehydration, rapid breathing, high fever or lethargy, they should call their childs healthcare team. Abrupt symptom onset, fever, aches, chills, fatigue, cough, and headache are common. So are muscle aches, especially in the lower legs. I often tell families that influenza makes people feel so bad that patients will complain their hair hurts or even their skin.

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How Can I Treat Viral Gastroenteritis

In most cases, people with viral gastroenteritis get better on their own without medical treatment. You can treat viral gastroenteritis by replacing lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. In some cases, over-the-counter medicines may help relieve your symptoms.

Research shows that following a restricted diet does not help treat viral gastroenteritis. When you have viral gastroenteritis, you may vomit after you eat or lose your appetite for a short time. When your appetite returns, you can most often go back to eating your normal diet, even if you still have diarrhea. Find tips on what to eat when you have viral gastroenteritis.

If your child has symptoms of viral gastroenteritis, such as vomiting or diarrhea, dont hesitate to call a doctor for advice.

Complementary And Alternative Medicine

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Aspirin was extracted from willow trees before being synthesized in the lab and is still sometimes considered a natural remedy for fever. Other herbs sometimes used to treat fever include meadowsweet, yarrow, black hawthorn, cramp bark, birch, black cohosh, Indian pipe, and feverfew.

Use extreme caution when using any of these herbs, especially with children. Some people have a natural derivative of salicylic acid, a component of aspirin, that can cause Reyes syndrome. Talk to your healthcare provider or your childs pediatrician first.

Tips for Safer Use of Natural Herbs and Supplements

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VigorTip Health uses only high-quality resources, including peer-reviewed research, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  • Walter EJ, Hanna-Jumma S, Carraretto M, Forni L. Pathophysiological basis and consequences of fever. crit care. 2016 Jul 14 20:200. doi: 10.1186/s13054-016-1375-5

  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Fear nothing to fear: A note for parents.

  • Medicine Online Plus. fever.

  • Cleveland Clinic. Fever: care and treatment.

  • Read Also: How Much Does It Cost To Get A Flu Vaccine

    Clear Up Stuffed Nasal Passages

    Medicated nasal sprays arent recommended for young children. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to clear up a stuffy nose without medication.

    Use a cool-mist humidifier in your childs room. This will help break up mucus. Be sure to carefully clean the humidifier between uses to keep mold from developing in the machine.

    Another option is using a saline nasal spray or drops, which makes thin mucus easier to blow out or remove with a bulb syringe. This is especially helpful before feeding and bedtime.

    How Do Children Catch The Flu

    • The flu is caused by the very contagious influenza virus.
    • One child often passes it to another by sneezing, coughing, or sharing items like forks, spoons, or cups.
    • The virus can live on surfaces like doorknobs and toys. Your child can get the flu by touching something a sick person touched, then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.
    • Toddlers get the flu easily, because they like to explore by touching things, they put their hands in their mouths a lot, and they tend to rub their eyes and noses often.

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    How Can I Avoid The Flu

    Getting a flu shot every year is recommended for all people from 6 months. Many people in the above groups are eligible for free flu vaccination each year under the National Immunisation Program.

    While not 100% effective, the vaccine provides a high level of protection and can reduce symptoms in those still getting sick.

    Anyone in these at-risk groups with flu-like symptoms should see their doctor as soon as possible.

    The original recommended timing between receipt of the 2 vaccines was a preferred minimum interval of 2 weeks .

    Based on the latest medical advice the preferred minimum interval between vaccinations for COVID-19 and the flu is now 7 days.

    How Can I Help My Child

    Flu Season Wiping Out Over The Counter Medications

    If your child gets the flu:

    • Offer plenty of liquids. Fever and appetite loss are common with the flu, and can lead to dehydration.
    • Encourage your child to rest in bed or on the couch with a supply of magazines, books, quiet music, and perhaps a favorite movie.
    • Dress your child in layers that are easy to add and remove during bouts of chills or fever.
    • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and aches.
    • You can give over-the-counter cough or cold medicines to children over 6 years old if your doctor says it’s OK. Follow the package instructions carefully so you give the right amount. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 years old because they can cause bad reactions.
    • Running a cool-mist humidifier can help relieve coughs and runny or stuffy noses. Clean it after each use or at least once a day.
    • Honey can help loosen a stubborn cough in children older than 12 months of age. Give 12 teaspoons of honey at night. Do not give honey to children under 12 months old.
    • For a stuffy nose:
    • For babies: Put a few drops of saline into the nose, then gently suction the mucus out with a bulb syringe. Do this no more than 23 times a day so that the inside of your baby’s nose does not get swollen or sore.
    • For older kids: Give 2 sprays of saline nose spray 3 times a day.

    If your doctor prescribes medicine to ease symptoms, call the pharmacist before you go to pick it up. In a severe flu season, some pharmacies might have trouble keeping the medicines in stock.

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    Do Combination Products Work Better

    Combination products dont work better, but theyre a convenient option. The medications in Theraflu can be taken individually and work the same as combination products. Taking the medications separately or together in a combination product depends on your preference. But there are a few things to consider when deciding how you want to treat your cold or flu symptoms.

    Taking each medication separately allows you to better adjust the amount you take. Doses of individual medications often come in a range. This allows you to take a lower or higher dose depending on how severe your symptoms are. Combination products dont allow you to change the amount of individual medications.

    An advantage of combination products like Theraflu is that youre able to treat multiple symptoms with one product. But sometimes there are medications included that treat symptoms you don’t have. Taking individual medications can help ensure that you only treat the symptoms you have.

    It can be very difficult to keep track of timing several medications throughout the day, especially when you dont feel well. Some medications are given every 4 to 6 hours. Others are given 8 or 12 hours apart. Combination products can make it easier to know when its time for your next dose.

    Sleep As Much As Possible

    Sleep is the best medicine for your body while fighting the flu. Watching TV curled up on the couch isnt a bad idea, but you shouldnt be binge-watching your favorite Netflix show all night long.

    Go to bed earlier than usual and sleep in. You can also take a nap during the day to give your body more time to recover.

    Rest and sleep also reduces your risk of serious flu complications, like pneumonia.

    It can be difficult to sleep with a stuffy nose and cough. Try these tips to breathe easier and have a better nights sleep:

    • Use an extra pillow to prop up your head and ease sinus pressure.
    • Sleep with a humidifier or vaporizer in the room.
    • Take a hot bath or shower before bed.

    Recommended Reading: Over The Counter Flu Drugs

    Runny Nose And Sneezing

    OTC DrugsAntihistamines, such as cetirizine , chlorpheniramine , diphenhydramine , fexofenadine , and loratadine

    How effective are they? Very, when symptoms stem from allergies, but a 2015 review of 18 trials concluded that the drugs have little benefit when symptoms are from a cold.

    What are the risks? Drowsiness, nausea, blurred vision, and difficulty urinating, and, with diphenhydramine, impaired coordination.

    What they can interact with: Taking chlorpheniramine or diphenhydramine with narcotics, sleeping pills, or alcohol makes sedation more likely. Taking cetirizine, fexofenadine, or loratadine with certain antifungals or antibiotics increases the risk of side effects. Antacids with aluminum or magnesium, and grapefruit and certain other juices can make fexofenadine less effective.

    Home RemediesHonestly, theres not much you can do besides stocking up on tissues. But note that a runny nose and sneezing help rid your body of germs. If you find yourself without a tissue in hand, sneeze into your elbow so that the germs dont end up across the room infecting an innocent bystander.

    Stay Home And Get Plenty Of Rest

    The Truth About 10 Over

    Mind your flu manners. On the first day you have symptoms, call your work or school and tell them you wonât be coming in for a few days. You’re sick — and very contagious! Take advantage of down time and give your body some much-needed rest. Curl up on the couch and spend some time reading, watching DVDs, or just cat-napping while your body battles the virus.

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    Common Flu Symptoms In Kids

    • High-grade fever to 105°F )
    • Sore throat and cough
    • Head, muscle, or body aches
    • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

    While flu symptoms in children are similar to a cold, one of the biggest differences is their fever. A cold might cause a low-grade fever, but the flu can cause much higher temperatures, reaching 103°F to 105°F . That said, much like the common cold, not everyone with the flu will develop a fever.

    Aside from high-grade fever, the most common flu symptoms in children include a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle, headaches, muscle and body aches, fatigue, cough, vomiting, and diarrhea.

    What Treatment Options Are Safe During Pregnancy

    According to the Cleveland Clinic, natural remedies like saline nasal drops and warm salt-water gargling are ideal cold and flu treatments during pregnancy.

    Vicks VapoRub and cough drops are also considered safe during pregnancy.

    Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should check with their healthcare provider before taking any drug. While no medication can be considered 100 percent safe for pregnant women, the Cleveland Clinic lists the following as among those generally considered to be okay:

    Note: Do not take the sustained action or multisymptom forms of these drugs.

    As for the decongestant pseudoephedrine, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that pregnant women avoid it in the first trimester , while a review published in the journal American Family Physician concluded that women should use it only sparingly later in pregnancy.

    For pregnant women with the flu, oseltamivir is the preferred medication because it has the best safety and efficacy record, according to the CDC.

    The CDC recommends that pregnant women with a fever take acetominophen and contact their doctors immediately.

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    Why You Need Rest And Fluids

    Beyond medications, the standard advice to get enough rest still applies. Being up and around too much will probably impair your ability to fight , Ellis says.

    And, yes, be sure to get enough fluids. Not only do you want to fend off dehydration, you also need circulating blood volume to treat infection, says Ellis, who believes a good bowl of chicken soup cant hurt, because fever causes you to lose water as well as salt.

    Finally, doctors recommend staying away from herbs such as elderberry and echinacea, because they have not been shown to help fight the flu and may contain contaminants. Vitamin C and zinc have also not been proven to treat the flu.

    See Your Childs Doctor

    How to Pick Over the Counter Cold Medicine

    Sometimes even the best at-home care isnt enough to help your little one make a full recovery. Call your doctor right away if your child:

    • has a fever greater than 101°F for more than two days, or a fever of 104°F or higher for any amount of time
    • has a fever of 100.4°F or higher and is under 3 months old
    • has a fever that doesnt get better after taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen
    • seems unusually drowsy or lethargic
    • wont eat or drink
    • is wheezing or is short of breath

    You should always call your childs pediatrician if you have any concerns or questions about their health.

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    I Think I Have The Flu Should I See A Doctor

    Most people who are generally healthy wont need to see their doctor for the flu. Their immune system will fight the infection and symptoms will usually clear up on their own.

    If you think you have the flu, try to rest, maintain a good fluid intake, and manage your symptoms. This will help you recover and prevent dehydration.

    If you do need to see a GP for your symptoms, make sure you call ahead first so they can make sure theres no one in an at-risk group around when you have your appointment.

    Do The Current Antiviral Drugs Still Work On Omicron

    The existing arsenal of medicines against COVID-19 are being researched for their effect against the latest variant omicron, says Dr. Li.The antiviral drug remdesivir appears to still be effective against omicron.

    Related: If Youre Fully Vaccinated and Boosted, Heres What You Can Expect Omicron Symptoms to Look Like

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    Colds And Flu: Prevention And Treatment Tips

    I always like to start by saying, the flu shot is your best shot at preventing an influenza infection. While its best to get immunized early in the flu season, we often continue to recommend getting the flu vaccine well into May. Call you doctors office, go to your local pharmacy, or use the CDCs Vaccine Finder to locate the vaccine available in your zip code. Remember, if you have a baby, they will need two doses , and if your child is under the age of nine and they have never had the flu vaccine before, theyll need two doses this year, too!

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    What Works What Doesnt And What May Actually Be Dangerous

    There are a lot of cold and flu meds on the market. Some work pretty well others, not so much. And most have side effects, even when taken short-term. Thats why its usually a good bet to start with home remedies, which often provide relief and tend to be safer than drugs. And it’s almost never a good idea to ask your doctor for antibiotics: those drugs don’t work against the cold or flu.

    Note that most drugs listed below are also available as lower-cost generic or store brands. The listed drugs are examples and are often multisymptom products that contain several active ingredients.)

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