Looking to beat the flu quickly? Explore our expert do's and don'ts guide for a speedy recovery. Discover effective strategies and pitfalls to avoid during flu season.

8 Things to Do When You Have the Flu — and 8 Things to Avoid

Get Rid of the Flu Fast With These Do's and Don'ts

There are so many reasons to love fall–relief from high summer temperatures, sweater weather, Halloween, changing leaves, pumpkin spice everything. However, one thing people do not love about fall is that it marks the approach of flu season. To help you prepare, here are 8 tips to stay healthy during flu season.

Even though people over 60 are less than 20 percent of the population, they account for over 80 percent of the serious complications of influenza. The flu, or influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can make you feel absolutely miserable. It typically comes on suddenly and can lead to a range of symptoms, including fever, body aches, cough, and fatigue. While there is no surefire way to completely avoid the flu, there are steps you can take to manage the illness and prevent its spread. In this article, we will discuss eight things to do when you have the flu to help you recover faster and eight things to avoid to protect yourself and others.

Also see: Flu Symptoms vs COVID-19 Symptoms

1. Get a flu shot.

The best way to stay healthy during flu season is by getting the flu vaccine each year. The CDC recommends that any person who is old enough (over 6 months old) and medically cleared should be vaccinated against the flu. The vaccine will help build immunity to the virus and the body will make antibodies around two weeks after you get vaccinated. So, you should get the flu vaccine at the beginning of flu season rather than waiting until people around you start getting sick.

2. Avoid Close Contact.

One of the things you can do to stay healthy during flu season is to limit close contact with others who are sick or exhibiting flu symptoms. This is especially important if your child or another family member is sick and you are caring for them. After being close to a sick person, you should wash and sanitize your hands and do the same to any other surfaces they touched.

Also see: Everything You Need to Prepare for the Flu

3. Wash Your Hands.

Washing your hands is always important, but it’s even more essential when trying to stay healthy during flu season. You should wash your hands as much as you can, especially if you are in contact with people who are sick or may be sick. It can be hard to get children to wash their hands enough, but encourage them to do so frequently, even if it seems repetitive.

For maximum effectiveness, you should scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds. A good way to make sure you are washing long enough is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Make sure to get your palms, the backs of your hands, between the fingers, and under your nails. Water temperature is not as important as the scrubbing, which helps physically remove germs.

4. Don’t Touch Your Eyes, Nose, or Mouth.

Washing your hands is definitely helpful and good hand hygiene will prevent a lot of illnesses, but you should also avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. These parts of your face are common entry points for germs that can make you sick.

Also see: Difference Between Cold and Flu?

5. Clean and Sanitize Surfaces.

Viruses and other germs tend to survive best on hard surfaces rather than soft ones like clothing and toys. Use a germ-killing cleaner or sanitizer to wipe down counters, trays, electronics, toys, thermometers, and other items with hard surfaces often. Even though hard surfaces are more commonly associated with spreading germs, clothing and soft toys can also be washed after coming into contact with a sick person as a safety measure.

6. Pay Attention to Overall Health.

One of the best ways to prevent getting sick during flu season is to practice habits that will keep you in good general health. The healthier you are overall, the more resilient your immune system will be. Make sure you have a healthy diet and increasing vitamin C and vitamin D intake may help boost your immune system. Exercising and staying active will also help keep you healthy, as will staying well hydrated. Other things that will keep you healthy to guard against the flu include getting plenty of sleep and managing your stress.

7. Cover Sneezes and Cough.

If you or your child have already gotten sick, then you can prevent it from spreading to others around you by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze and cough. The spray from sneezes and coughs can spread pretty far in a variety of directions, contaminating surfaces and coming into contact with other people. Always try to use a tissue, but if you end up sneezing into your hand or elbow (as many people are instructed to), then wash the area immediately.

8. Stay Home.

Other than covering your sneezes, one of the best things to prevent spreading the flu if you or your child has already gotten sick is to stay home. Both children and adults should avoid going out in public while sick and stay home until they are no longer contagious. It’s inconvenient to miss work or school, but staying home not only contains the illness, but it will also help you recover more quickly.

Things to Do When You Have the Flu:

  • Rest. One of the most important things you can do when you have the flu is to get plenty of rest. Your body needs extra energy to fight off the virus, so make sure to take it easy and get adequate sleep.
  • Stay Hydrated. The flu can cause dehydration, so drink plenty of fluids such as water, herbal tea, and clear broths. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they can dehydrate you further.
  • Take Over-the-Counter Medications. Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce fever and alleviate pain and discomfort. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage instructions and consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
  • Use a Humidifier. A humidifier can help relieve congestion and soothe a sore throat. Adding moisture to the air can make it easier to breathe and promote healing.
  • Practice Good Hand Hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water to prevent the spread of the virus to others. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes. Use a tissue or the inside of your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues properly and wash your hands immediately.
  • Isolate Yourself. Stay home from work or school until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. This helps prevent spreading the flu to others.
  • Consult a Healthcare Professional. If your symptoms worsen or if you are in a high-risk group (such as the elderly, young children, or those with underlying health conditions), seek medical advice promptly. Antiviral medications may be recommended.

Things to Avoid When You Have the Flu:

  • Going to Public Places. Avoid going to crowded places like malls, movie theaters, or public transportation to prevent spreading the flu to others.
  • Close Contact with Others. Stay away from close contact with family members and friends, especially those at higher risk of complications, until you are no longer contagious.
  • Self-Medication with Antibiotics. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections like the flu. They should only be used when prescribed by a healthcare professional for a bacterial infection.
  • Ignoring Warning Signs. If you experience severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion, severe dehydration, or persistent high fever, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Smoking and Exposure to Secondhand Smoke. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can worsen respiratory symptoms. Avoid smoking and areas where others smoke.
  • Skipping Vaccination. Influenza vaccination is the best preventive measure against the flu. Make sure to get vaccinated every year to reduce your risk of getting sick.
  • Relying Solely on Natural Remedies. While natural remedies like herbal teas and honey can provide relief, they should not replace conventional flu treatments when needed.
  • Returning to Normal Activities Too Soon. Rushing back to work or school before you have fully recovered can prolong your illness and put others at risk. Listen to your body and take the time you need to heal.

When you have the flu, taking the right steps can make a significant difference in how quickly you recover and whether you pass the virus on to others. Remember to prioritize rest, hydration, and good hygiene practices while avoiding situations that can spread the flu. By following these guidelines, you can help protect yourself and your community during flu season.

Remember, this blog provides general information and should not replace professional medical advice. If you are experiencing symptoms but are not sure whether you have the flu or COVID-19, or if you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 but have not yet shown any symptoms call or visit our Nearest Emergency Room for medical help. We have board-certified physicians, nurses and staff to help you recover and give appropriate treatment and medical advice.

We have ER locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area that are open and here to help you 24/7 If you or your family have a medical emergency.

We have 9 facilities spread across the DFW area with average wait times of less than 10 mins that are OPEN 24/7 located in Hurst, Colleyville, Frisco, Highland Village, Hillcrest, Uptown, Little Elm, Mansfield, and Texoma.