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Waking up with a groggy head and stuffy sinuses can be the worst way to start the day. Hopefully, your illness is self-limiting but before we go into some natural remedies, let's first understand what we are dealing with here!

According to the CDC, 5-20% of the population is infected with the flu every year in the United States. To note, flu outbreaks are especially severe in the winter months. The flu virus, also known as the influenza virus attacks your respiratory system. It affects the sinuses, nose, throat, and lungs. Depending upon the severity of the illness, the flu can typically last anywhere from 5-14 days. It can linger on in people with compromised or weakened immune systems.

What causes the flu and how is it spread so fast?

It is almost impossible to escape the flu as all it takes is for someone to sneeze next to you. The most common mode of transmission is inhalation of airborne droplets. They can also be picked up from touching different contaminated objects such as the phone, keyboard or currency bills. People tend to be contagious even before the symptoms begin. The influenza virus is a smart one. New strains emerge every year and can pose as a challenge for the body’s defense system. Previously formed antibodies generated by the annual flu shot may help lessen the severity and duration of the disease.

The most common flu symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Body ache
  • Fatigue

If you have any of the above symptoms and can’t make it to a doctor’s office, find best doctors online and get your flu treated from the comfort of your own home. Download a doctor availability app, Mylivedoctors on your smartphone and instantly connect to an online doctor. You can even get a prescription online for your flu.

Complications of the flu:

You may suffer only just a minor cold and rarely need hospitalization. If the symptoms don’t get better within a week and instead are draining you further, the flu may be progressing to complications such as sinusitis, pneumonia, ear infections, or bronchitis. You may experience:

  • Increased difficulty in breathing
  • Fever accompanied by chills
  • Earache
  • Discharge from ear
  • Sweating
  • Productive cough often with thick green mucus/phlegm
  • Chest pain may occur
  • Increased pulse

 

Who is more likely to suffer from complications?

Most people completely recover from the influenza virus or flu within 15 days. Some individuals, however, are more susceptible and can develop complications. For instance:

  • Children (6 months to 4 years)
  • Adults above 65 years
  • Immunocompromised patients
  • Individuals with pre-existing lung conditions such as COPD
  • Pregnant women

How effective is the flu shot?

The advent of the flu vaccine was groundbreaking in terms of efficacy considering how expansive the influenza virus is worldwide. According to the CDC, getting a flu shot can reduce the chances of catching the virus by 60%. Having said this, this figure varies every year and ideally applies to healthy adults. The effectiveness of the flu shot is affected by several factors:

  • Age. The vaccine isn’t as efficient in children less than 3 years and adults over 65 years of age. The CDC now recommends a nasal spray vaccine for healthy children 2 years and above and a high dose flu vaccine for the geriatric population.
  • Overall health. Vaccines interact with certain cells of the immune system so that they can recognize the virus once it attacks. Weak immune systems are less likely to respond to the vaccine, but research suggests that the flu shot reduces hospitalization of those suffering from chronic illnesses by 70%.
  • Matching of the vaccine with the influenza strain. As mentioned earlier, the virus emerges as a new sub-type each year hence the vaccine must be altered and updated every year as well. The efficacy of the flu shot depends upon its accuracy.

Can the flu be treated at home?

When calling in sick is not an option at work and your morning coffee doesn’t wake you up, a couple of basic kitchen ingredients can help you kickstart your day! It can save you that trip to the Doctor’s.

  1. Ginger. Everyone has some ginger lying around in the kitchen. Just chuck a couple of chunks of ginger into boiling water. This concoction really is as simple as it sounds. Among the many benefits of the ginger root such as being anti-cancerous and helping in weight loss it also acts as a potent anti-inflammatory substance. In addition to this, its antimicrobial properties make it an ideal flu-fighting agent.
  2. Honey. Very well known for its ‘cure-all’ nature, honey does wonders for the flu. It possesses antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that not only fights viruses but bacteria and fungi as well.  A sore throat is instantly relieved as honey lines the inside of the throat.
  3. Citrus fruits. Vitamin C is abundantly found in citrus fruit such as oranges, lemon, green leafy vegetables, and even chili peppers. It’s a powerful booster of the immune system. Adding a few drops of lemon juice to your tea will soothe your respiratory tract and relieve nasal congestion.  
  4. Saline water. Whip up some salt water for washing out that stuffy nasal cavity. Add a couple of pinches of baking soda and salt to about 8 ounces of warm water. Use a syringe to wash out your nose by keeping one nostril closed while squirting the mixture through the other. You’ll immediately be able to breathe better.
  5. Mint leaves. This is an herb that has been used for centuries for indigestion, weight loss, and flatulence. When added to tea or boiled with hot water it can also help to cope with the distress that the flu causes. It is famous for the soothing effect it has on the respiratory tract. Combine it with a dash of cinnamon to increase its anti-inflammatory response.

 

Sometimes you do need to talk to a physician though. Treatment of milder flu symptoms and prescription drugs can possibly be prescribed by an online doctor. Book a tele appointment with doctor with the Mylivedoctors app. For more details check out www.mylivedoctors.com.