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Flu in Adults (cont.)

What Is the Treatment for Flu in Adults?

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Treatments for flu (influenza) include home remedies such as resting in bed, avoiding physical exertion, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco use. Hydration is important, and minor aches and pains can be relived with over-the-counter (OTC) medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve). Avoid spreading germs and the flu virus by washing hands often and staying away from others who have the flu.

Medical treatment for the flu include medications (antiviral drugs) prescribed to decrease the severity and duration of the infection. Antibiotics also may be prescribed to treat secondary bacterial infections that may arise as a complication of the flu, but antibiotics themselves are not necessary for viral infections such as the flu.

What Are Home Remedies for Flu in Adults?

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  • Rest in bed. Avoid physical exertion. Avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water, fruit juices, and clear soups (like chicken soup). Water should never be the sole or main liquid consumed because it does not contain adequate electrolytes (sodium and potassium, for example) that the body requires. Commercially available products such as Gatorade and other similar sports drinks can be useful in this regard. For children, ORS (oral rehydration solution) packets are another good way to replenish the body. A similar rehydrating solution can be made at home using salt, sugar, and plain or rice water. Adding some orange juice and mashed bananas enhances the taste and also provides a good source of potassium. Such a solution can be used by anyone, regardless of age.
  • Treat fever and aches with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn).
    • Caution: For children younger than 16 years of age with symptoms of flu or cold, aspirin should not be used because of its association with Reye's syndrome, which can cause liver and brain damage.
  • Use cough suppressants and expectorants to treat the cough.
  • Steam inhalations may be useful in opening up a blocked nose and thus make breathing easier.
    • To create steam, heat water on the stove, remove the pot from the stove, then sit with a towel over your head and inhale the steam. The water should be hot, but not boiling, under your face. Use caution if you have asthma. You may enhance the decongestant effect of the steam by adding a half teaspoon of Vicks VapoRub, one to two drops of eucalyptus oil, or a few slices of ginger to the hot water.
    • Another simple method is steaming up the bathroom by letting the shower run with hot water. Inhaling the moisture in a steamy room can serve a similar purpose. Be careful, however, not to sit directly under the shower in order to avoid getting burned.
  • Avoid touching hard surfaces where flu viruses may remain alive: handrails, telephones, doors, faucets, and counters. Wash your hands often, especially after being in public places or at work.
  • Cough and sneeze into a soft tissue or handkerchief. Carefully dispose of tissues after using them.
  • Stay away from people who have the flu, if possible.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/30/2015
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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Flu in Adults:

Flu in Adults - Symptoms

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Flu in Adults - Treatment

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Flu in Adults - Home Remedies

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