If you have the flu, you may feel like you need to see a doctor. However, this isn’t usually necessary. For most people, flu symptoms improve within a week without medical support.
During this time, there are many things you can do to relieve your symptoms and speed up your recovery. And if you feel unsure at any stage, you can speak to a pharmacist for advice. Pharmacists can also recommend remedies for flu - remedies that you can usually buy at a pharmacy without a prescription.
If you’re unsure about how to look after yourself when you have the flu, here are 4 things you can do to help your recovery.
The flu can make you feel exhausted, but that’s because you need energy to fight the flu virus. Listen to your body and rest. Doing so will help you conserve your energy.
Try to set aside anything you might do while at home - vacuuming, laundry or food shopping - until you feel better. Take a nap during the day if you need to, get to bed at an early hour and allow yourself a lie in the next morning.
Getting enough rest and sleep can lower your risk of developing more serious flu complications, such as pneumonia.
Staying warm when you’re ill can help you save energy - energy that your body can use to fight the infection. You can keep warm by having warm drinks throughout the day and eating a hot meal or two. Using a hot water bottle or heated blanket at bedtime can also help, but don’t use both at the same time.
Keep your doors closed to prevent draughts and close your curtains at dusk to help keep heat in your house during the colder months. Aim to keep your room temperature at 18C throughout the night if you can.
There are different types of non-prescription medicines you can take to relieve flu symptoms. Menthol cough drops can help soothe a sore throat, and everyday painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol can help lower a fever and treat any aches and pains.
If you need extra guidance, ask a pharmacist which medication will suit you best. Always stick to the recommended dose.
Staying hydrated can make you feel more comfortable when you have the flu. To make sure you’re drinking enough, check that your pee (urine) is light yellow in colour or clear.
Try to avoid drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol, as these can make your symptoms worse. Stick to plain water or warm water with a little honey and fresh lemon. Herbal teas with honey, and other warm beverages can help to soothe your throat.
You may think of orange juice as a good flu remedy because of its vitamin C content, but it can make some people feel sick (nauseous). The same is true of milk. It may be best to avoid these drinks while you recover.
Find more ways to look after yourself this cold and flu season with our Cold and Flu Self-Care Guide.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.