Guide for the Sick & Miserable | 10 Ways to Top the Flu
Once again we’re fully immersed in cold & flu season – and it’s no joke this year. I’m revamping this post from last year – to include a few more strategies to not only crawl back from the depths of the despair that is the flu (should you find yourself there) but also on how to buff up that immune system to hopefully avoid illness altogether!
As previously stated, the flu is terrorizing the nation, it’s no different here in North Texas. As of today, the flu has claimed more than 2100 lives so far this season – and it’s only January folks! With that being said – this is super serious. No more games, no more excuses .. let’s get real about protecting ourselves, shall we?
How do I know I have the flu ?
Okay so feeling crummy doesn’t always equal the flu – even though it may feel like it. The full blown real deal influenza feels like walking death to be quite blunt. Joint pain, body aches, extreme fatigue, nausea/vomiting, fever, chills, headache, – the full gamut. If left untreated the flu can develop into pneumonia or even be accompanied by bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchioles).
Okay so – what do I do when I’m feeling like poo?
Wash, wash, wash those hands and put on a mask. It’s not a bad idea to keep a box at home. Whether you’re the sick one or you’re going out in public – a face mask will help filter those invisible germy critters floating towards your airways. If you’re the sick one, do us all a solid and put on a dang mask. Don’t spread your germs.
Once you’re properly garbed, head to your doctor’s office. Maybe they have designated sick hours for urgent visits or maybe you’ll need to find an urgent care center. DO NOT and I repeat do not go to the ER unless you’re experiencing an ACTUAL emergency. The doctor’s office/urgent care will swab your nose and throat to check for the flu and likely for strep. Blood work isn’t always necessary unless you’re looking pretty sickly. An IV for some basic hydration may be in order if you’ve been super yacky and can’t hold down any fluids. Depending on if you’re flu positive and how long you’ve had your symptoms, you may or may not receive Tamiflu (also pending any allergies). Tamiflu is an anti-viral that targets viruses (duh) – not any bacterial infections that might accompany the flu. If given, it will lessen (but not cure) the symptoms of the flu and shorten the recovery time.
So .. why can’t I go to the ER?
Guys – as a former ER nurse there is nothing worse than seeing patients who don’t belong there. Will they turn you away? No, that’s illegal. Will they roll their eyes at you when they’re behind closed doors – quite possibly. The ER is for emergencies people (plus you’ll get a huge, unnecessary bill)!
- Emergencies mean:
- loss of limbs, profuse blood loss, horrific traumas,
- loss of consciousness, heart attacks/strokes/cardiovascular conundrums,
- mental health emergencies and suicidal ideation,
- broken bones, sudden pain/redness/warmth/swelling in a limb
- trouble breathing
- severe allergic reactions (not minor rashes or hives)
- poison ingestion and/or smoke
- moderate to severe burns
- always always always call 911 if you’re unsure what to do!
- It does NOT include colds, sniffles, sneezes, man-colds, ear aches, etc. That is what a primary care doctor or urgent care center is for. If you don’t have an established primary care provider – I highly encourage you to find one. They’ll get to know you and how to treat YOU. That’s what they were CREATED for. Do not, and again I repeat, DO NOT clog up the already massively packed ER waiting room and infect everyone there in the process. Again – the best part about having a primary care provider is that they know you, your history, and when you probably are and aren’t ill (they may even call in something for you without you needing to go to their office).
Okay so, you’re down for the count. How do you survive?
If any of you follow me on Instagram or watch my instastories, you know I am hopelessly in love with food delivery services like Favor. Since I’m alone a lot of the time, they are totally my saving grace when I’m feeling puny and completely helpless. The last time I got the flu, I sent them to CVS and ordered a humidifier, a new thermometer, cough drops, ginger ale, and other essentials. I wrapped myself in a mountain of cozy blankets, put the Apple TV on for endless romantic movies, and grabbed my old baggie sweat pants. I also was put on massive amounts of steroids (because along with the flu I had RSV AND bronchitis), which I’m blaming the (twice) delivery of cupcakes on (steroids TOTALLY make you snacky!) and my favorite snack is by far anything sweet and scrumptious. Steroids also put your hormones on a fun little roller coaster straight to crazy town, but we’ll leave that part out.
But my top 10 best advice for getting over flu’s/coughs/crud is as follows:
1) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Typically when you’re down for the count your body is pretty dehydrated, mostly due to a fever and/or accompanied sweating. Staying hydrated not only benefits every body system, it helps detoxify your body from all the bad juju hanging out in there (and help get all the goopy snot out). I like to drink warm water with lemon (really because it tastes a lot better) but the lemon is a natural detoxifying cleanse for your body. I also drink coconut water (which is massively hydrating) and loaded with potassium (but watch the sugar). If you’re sick to your stomach in any way, shape, or form, you’re losing electrolytes rather quickly, including potassium. Low potassium levels are dangerous for your heart and overall livelihood so replete asap! You can also blend gatorade with water, or pedialyte + water to regain electrolytes and dilute some of the sugar. Hot tea (lemon zinger, chamomile, lavender) with a hint of honey also does wonders. Starbucks also has a drink called the Medicine Ball – gosh it feels AMAZING on the throat!
2) Chicken Noodle Soup or Chicken & Dumpling Soup: I completely believe this deliciousness gives you all the feels to get better. This recipe is super easy to make, and feels like an instant hug. I use a rotisserie chicken to eliminate half of the work. (For non-chicken fingers, I wear gloves!)
3) Rest: Your body is trying to heal and is viciously attacking the virus currently wreaking havoc on your immune system and therefore needs all the rest it can get. For the fellow girl geeks out there, I am known to turn on a) lord of the rings b) star wars/star trek c) harry potter d) the hobbit and cuddle up in my blankets for a nap with all my doggies. Rest and feel zero shame about it, you need every ounce of it.
4) Vitamin C: I typically invest in Emergen-C every year to help give me an added immune boost when I’m feeling icky. You can also invest in visiting a med spa for Vitamin B 12 shots, but many people are quite afraid of needles. So for a needle-less/poke free option, load up on your vitamin C and/or elderberry. Recently I discovered a new brand, Oxylent, that delivers all the same benefits as Emergen-C but without all the sugar! It comes in multiple flavors and is pretty tasty!
5) Flu Shots: guys.. yes, there are a lot of opinions floating around out there about the flu shot. NO it’s not a live virus (except for the nasal mist) and therefore cannot give you the flu. Typically the symptoms you feel are your immune system reacting to the vaccine – which is what you WANT to happen. It is COMPLETELY normal. YES your body can have a reaction to the vaccination, it is a foreign particle after all. Now, the nasal mist IS a live virus and has the potential to give you a mild form of the virus. There are several versions of the shot, typically tri-valent is available which means it covers three of the most predominant strains of the virus from the previous flu season. Sometimes you can luck out and find places that offer quadrivalent, which is what I always request as it offers the best coverage possible. The flu shot year by year varies (mutating viruses) but remember what I said about it lessening the effects if you do catch the virus?
But I got the shot, and I still got the freaking flu .. wtf man?
Hey guess what – YES you can still get the flu even when you get the shot. Remember when I just said it covers only 3-4 strains? There are a BAZILLION strains of the virus, because viruses are capable of mutating (they’re really good at it). BUT I will say with no pause, having the shot will make it much less miserable than not having it at all. AND guys.. I have seen people die horrific deaths from the flu. Not just the old, but the young as well. The virus went straight for their heart and ultimately killed them. People that were completely healthy until they got the flu! Young mothers, teenagers, the elderly, you name it. It’s something I never wish on anyone or their family, especially when it’s entirely preventable. Now remember, I come from the world of healthcare and whole-heartedly believe in preventive medicine and all the perks entailed. There are people who feel differently when it comes to vaccines, we are all entitled to our opinions, but mine will never change. And if you even try to go down the whole “vaccines lead to autism” path, I will consider you a complete idiot.
6) Pampering: I don’t know about you but pampering (when I’m feeling a little better) helps me feel like a new person. I like to get a mani/pedi and sometimes a massage or a facial. The massage also helps loosen all the toxins in your body and flush out with proper hydration. The mani/pedi makes me feel like more of a person with their act together and less like Slimer from Ghostbusters. Here in Dallas, I LOVE the Cherry app (they come directly to you!). Have you heard of them?
7) Online Shopping: I’d be lying if I didn’t say I pull out my laptop and peruse my favorite online stores. It sounds extremely silly, but it excites me to have some cute new outfits on the way by the time I’m feeling like myself again. OR I find things to put in my wish list and buy them when they go on sale! Plus it just helps pass the time. Not wanting to fall into temptation? Open up a new book! My kindle and I are inseparable! Here are my reads from this past year!
8) Kombucha: Did you guys know antibiotics can wipe out the “good” bacteria that lives in your gut? Yes, you have good and bad bacteria that live in harmony in your body. When one of them gets out of whack, bad things happen. Be proactive, especially if you’re put on antibiotics for some bacterial illness, and protect your gut with probiotics. I recently got into Health Ade Kombucha, a fermented tea packed with probiotics and other body feel goods. Love their pink lady apple flavor! Whether kombucha is your thing or you prefer Kefir (tastes like yogurt) or maybe Good Belly (yummy juice!) – probiotics are always a good idea. Happy gut- happy life yall. Also- try gargling apple cider vinegar! It’s one of those “home remedies” you hear about but man, when I start feeling off i.e. scratchy throat, I gargle a good amount of this stuff and it eats away bacteria like I devour chocolate cake! Num num num!
9) Exercise: You know all those things you hear about endorphins? They really do a body good and are a natural immune booster! Although I complain and groan when it comes to actually making myself get up and go – I’m always filled with such a sense of accomplishment when I leave. Whether I’m off to lift weights or go to a PureBarre class – the endorphin high is the best. Plus I feel less guilty about enjoying anything I want to eat (aka a whole pint of halo top).
10) Epsom Salt Baths: These baths have been my go-to ever since my teenage years, hurting from all day ballet rehearsals. Hot baths actually burn calories (hell yes!) while the epsom salt works its magic to ease sore muscles and discomfort, soothe headaches, and detoxify your system. Add a little bit of lavender and you’re on your way to steamy bliss.
I hope this helps alleviate your ailments if you happen to be sick or helps you avoid the plague altogether!
What are your sick day routines? I’d love to hear them!
January 29, 2018 @ 12:01 pm
Gah the flu has been hard core cutting across TX and I am dreading getting it!!
Hannah @ AndThenWeTried
January 29, 2018 @ 12:14 pm
Emergen-c is amazing. I mix up a packet of the powdered stuff as soon as I feel even the slightest bit sick.
January 29, 2018 @ 12:54 pm
These are great ideas. I have recently been ill and used so many of these. I’m definitely trying more to boost my immune system and prevent illness in the first place ????
January 29, 2018 @ 1:34 pm
This is such a helpful post. I’m terrified of getting the flu! I’ve been exercising and eating tons of veggies and fruits to stay on top of my game.
January 29, 2018 @ 1:38 pm
Hydrating is so huge! I never used to do this, but the second I think I might be catching something now, I start chugging water. Helps so much.
January 29, 2018 @ 1:56 pm
These are great tips! I am so glad I got the flu vaccine this year – I managed to avoid catching it so far…
January 29, 2018 @ 2:06 pm
It is SO scary this year! Such great tips – prayers we all stay healthy!
January 29, 2018 @ 2:09 pm
Such great tips, Emergen-C is a go-to for me!
January 29, 2018 @ 4:21 pm
me too! or I gargle apple cider vinegar!
January 29, 2018 @ 2:35 pm
It seems like such a bad flu season this year!! These are good tips and reminders. I’ve started taking daily vitamin C supplements every morning to try and help my immune system!
January 29, 2018 @ 4:20 pm
It’s the worst year in quite a while. All the more important to keep doing what you’re doing! <3
January 29, 2018 @ 3:50 pm
Yes, yes, yes!! I am a nurse and we have been seeing the flu like crazy! Such great tips.
January 29, 2018 @ 4:19 pm
yea girl! nurses unite!
January 29, 2018 @ 4:43 pm
Ooh how we despise the flu! Thanks for the tips. We will certainly practise being safe rather than sorry x
January 29, 2018 @ 6:09 pm
Thanks for this! it’s so terrible everyone around me is sick or has been sick and I don’t want to be next!
January 29, 2018 @ 6:23 pm
Omg having the flu is the worst! These are great remedies aside from hydration and rest 🙂
January 29, 2018 @ 6:23 pm
This post is incredibly helpful! I’m a bit scared of catching the flu. I had it last year, but this year I hope it passes. I just shared with a friend who has it now.
January 29, 2018 @ 7:54 pm
These are wonderful tips! For me, rest, vitamin c, and chicken noodle soup are what helps me get back to regular.
January 29, 2018 @ 9:32 pm
Yesss so glad that pampering and online shopping are on here! I’ve started to wear a mask out cause it’s so easy for me to catch a cold!
Vivian | LIVE IN LOVE
IG | @viviyunn_
January 29, 2018 @ 9:40 pm
I agree the flu was awful this year I am just now getting over mine. It’s been almost 2 weeks and all I have is lingering cough. The Epson salt bath helped tremendously and of course rest and vitamin C and nothing beats mamas chicken noodle soup.
January 29, 2018 @ 9:45 pm
As a first grade teacher I’ve been so paranoid I’m going to get the flu!! I’ve been washing my hands and taking vitamin c non stop!
January 29, 2018 @ 10:57 pm
I love your post. It is so interesting and funny. When I have the flu, I will drink lots of water and sleep. Thanks for sharing.
January 30, 2018 @ 12:26 pm
Thank for sharing these tips! I completely agree with staying hydrated. It is quite important since water is trick to most body problems
January 30, 2018 @ 1:00 pm
I was really sick almost all through Jan! I got by by drinking LOTS of ginger tea, using a humidifier and eating tons of cough drops hah.
January 30, 2018 @ 1:26 pm
ginger tea is one of my faves, it’s so soothing for the tummy! I hope you’re on the mend!
January 30, 2018 @ 1:44 pm
These are great tips for dealing with the flu and while I agree about not running to the ER constantly I think sometimes it merits a visit… If someone has an underlying issue sometimes what might be no big deal to others does merit an ER trip for safety reasons. No one should be made to feel badly about feeling they need the ER… That being said, I totally get your point because I personally know some people that run their kids to urgent care or ER all the time and it is NOT needed…. personally I don’t believe in running my kids to the dr right away… I like to let their or my illness run it’s course and give it some time. Occasionally I still end up having to take them in but I don’t go running to dr every time they sneeze… My sister takes her son to the dr the moment he’s sick every time and I don’t understand that…
January 30, 2018 @ 2:37 pm
Love these tips. Staying hydrated, taking baths and sleeping LOTS always works for me.
Cameron - Diary of a Southern Millennial
January 30, 2018 @ 6:51 pm
Taking vitamins and constantly washing hands is key! And so cool that you were an ER nurse – I love how you mention NOT to go to an ER also. And you didn’t mention it, but antibiotics won’t do anything for a viral infection, just bacterial. So even through you’re feeling sick and decide to go to a walk-in, the doctor might not even be able to do anything other than give you a steroid shot. When I’m sick, I usually wait a while before I go see a doctor (unless I’m feeling extra awful) and just try and stay as comfortable and hydrated as I can!
January 31, 2018 @ 4:52 pm
I totally agree with all of these!! Whenever people are starting to get sick around me I wash my hands like crazy.
February 3, 2018 @ 10:09 am
These are great tips, Tara! My hubby and kids caught something this year and it would only involve them coughing for weeks but no other symptoms. They are fine now. While they were sick I loaded up with gloves of bolied garlic. I managed to stay away from their germs but you never know when and where the next strain will come!
January 6, 2020 @ 1:40 pm
I totally needed this post over Thanksgiving when I had the flu! Thanks for sharing all your tips girl. It is super helpful!
January 6, 2020 @ 3:12 pm
Hydrating is so so important! As is washing hands – that is a lot in prevention, too. The flu is definitely not fun!
January 6, 2020 @ 9:10 pm
Headache and fatigue are definitely my symptoms! I forget to hydrate but that’s a good tip to keep in mind for trying to heal quickly 🙂
-xo, Azanique | https://www.lotsofsass.com
January 7, 2020 @ 8:26 am
I am definitely saving this post right away. While I haven’t had the flu (yet – thank God) I want to have these suggestions on-hand if and when it comes my way. I know my entire family has been sick recently so I’m avoiding them like the… well… flu. Your tips are so appreciated! And I especially love the bit about *not* visiting the ER unless it’s an emergency. My mom worked in the ER/OR as well and she would come home with so much frustration when people came in without a real reason for being there aside from “they feel sick.” It clogs up the system and makes it harder to take care of the people who actually need help! So thanks for sharing that!
January 7, 2020 @ 8:33 am
I so could have used this post last week when I was down with the flu! These are great tips – especially the Kombucha one! I’ll have to try that next time. I love any excuse to drink Kombucha!
January 7, 2020 @ 11:52 am
The flu took me out for two weeks over New Years and it was just awful. I got my flu shot for the first time in ten years and got sick. I did most of these things. I am hoping to never get that sick ever again.
January 8, 2020 @ 7:08 am
Having the flu is the worst!! The flu has been going around at work like crazy and luckily I haven’t caught wind of it. The emergency room tip is the best! I remember when I was in undergrad and I went to the emergency room for something that wasn’t really an emergency and my mom flipped out! Now I understand!! Great tips!
January 8, 2020 @ 10:15 am
I have been extra careful this year with a new baby in the house. We all just got over being sick and it’s SO awful.
Megan Elliott (@LushtoBlush)
January 10, 2020 @ 7:09 am
Thank you so much for sharing!! I had the flu two winters ago and it was horrriiblleee. Trying to avoid it at all costs, but these are great tips.
January 13, 2020 @ 9:42 pm
These are all great tips! The flu seems to have been terrible this season!
January 14, 2020 @ 10:35 am
I always forget about the health benefits of an epsom salt bath! Now I want to go take one to detox!
Michaell | The Vanilla Plum
January 26, 2020 @ 2:15 am
Love that you put Kombucha on this list! Great gut health is super helpful. Thanks for the tips!
January 26, 2020 @ 5:55 pm
Hi Michaell! Yes, I agree! Gut health is related to so much more of our overall health and wellbeing than most people realize!
My Travel Essentials – Tarrarized
February 10, 2021 @ 7:22 pm
[…] and wipes in your purse or carry-on. The holidays are prime sickness season, including the flu, strep, and various viral illnesses. Wash your hands as often as you can, wipe down your seats/tray tables/arm rests, avoid touching […]