What to do if you have been exposed to the flu?


Influenza Exposure

Is this your child’s symptom?

  • Exposure (Close Contact) to a person with influenza
  • Questions about influenza
  • Your child has no symptoms of influenza (no fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose)
  • For children with symptoms of influenza, see the Influenza care guide.

Flu Exposure (Close Contact) Definition

  • Household Close Contact. Lives with a person with flu.
  • Other Close Contact. The CDC defines 6 feet as how far coughing can spread the flu virus. How long the close contact lasts is also important. Close contact includes kissing, hugging or sharing eating and drinking utensils. It also includes close conversations. Direct contact with secretions of a person with flu is also close contact. Includes being in the same child care center room or carpool.
  • In Same Building – Not Close Contact. Walking by a person or sitting in a room briefly is not close contact. Being in the same school, church, workplace or building also is not close contact.
  • In Same Town – Not Close Contact. Living in a town where there are people with the flu is not close contact. Living in the same state or country (such as Mexico) carries no added risk.

High-Risk Children for Complications From Influenza (AAP)

Children are considered High-Risk for complications if they have any of the following:

  • Lung disease (such as asthma)
  • Heart disease (such as a congenital heart disease)
  • Cancer or weak immune system conditions
  • Neuromuscular disease (such as muscular dystrophy)
  • Diabetes, sickle cell disease, kidney disease or liver disease
  • Diseases requiring long-term aspirin therapy
  • Pregnancy or severe obesity
  • All healthy children under 2 years old are also considered High-Risk (CDC 2009)
  • Note: All other children are referred to as Low-Risk

Prescription Antiviral Drugs for Influenza

  • Antiviral drugs (such as Tamiflu) are sometimes used to treat influenza. They must be started within 48 hours of when flu symptoms start.
  • The AAP recommends they be used for any patient with severe symptoms.
  • The AAP also recommends the drugs for most High-Risk children. A list of High-Risk problems is also on the CDC website.
  • The AAP doesn’t recommend antiviral drugs for Low-Risk children with mild flu symptoms.
  • Their benefits are limited. They usually reduce the time your child is sick by 1 to 1.5 days. They reduce the symptoms, but do not make them go away.
  • Side effects: Vomiting in 10% of children.

When to Call for Influenza Exposure

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Influenza Close Contact within last 7 days and your child is High-Risk. See the list of children at High-Risk in Causes for complications of flu.

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Age more than 6 months and needs a flu shot
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Influenza questions and no Close Contact in the last 7 days
  • Influenza prevention questions
  • Tamiflu prescription questions
  • Influenza Close Contact within the last 7 days, but Low-Risk or healthy child
  • Influenza Minor Contact (same school or gathering), but no Close Contact

Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations

If your child’s illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.

Care Advice

Influenza Questions and No Close Contact in the Last 7 days

  1. What You Should Know About Flu Exposure:
    • For most healthy people, the symptoms of influenza are like those of a bad cold.
    • But, with flu, the onset is more abrupt. The symptoms are more severe.
    • Feeling very sick for the first 3 days is common.
    • The treatment of influenza depends on your child’s main symptoms. It is no different from treatment used for other viral colds and coughs.
    • Most children with flu don’t need to see their doctor.
  2. Influenza Symptoms:
    • The main symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose.
    • Most often, fever is present. (Exception: Sometimes, no fever if the child has a weak immune system.)
    • Other common symptoms are muscle pain, headache and fatigue.
    • Some people also have vomiting and diarrhea, but never as the only symptom.
  3. Influenza Diagnosis and Flu Tests:
    • During influenza season, if your child has flu symptoms, he probably has the flu.
    • Your child won’t need any special tests.
    • You should call your doctor if your child is High-Risk for complications of flu. These are children with chronic diseases. Examples of such diseases are asthma or a weak immune system. See the High-Risk list in Causes. Also, healthy children under 2 years of age are High-Risk.
    • For Low-Risk children, you don’t need to see your child’s doctor.
    • If your child develops a complication of the flu, then call your child’s doctor. Examples of complications are an earache or trouble breathing. These problems are included in the “What to Do” section.
  4. Influenza Treatment:
    • For most children, the treatment of flu is based upon symptom relief. It’s no different than the treatment of other viral coughs and colds.
    • Tamiflu is the main antiviral drug used to treat influenza in some children.
    • The AAP recommends it be used for any patient with severe symptoms.
    • The AAP also recommends the drug for most High-Risk children. See that list in Causes. Mainly, it is used for children in the hospital or those with chronic diseases.
    • Treatment is not recommended for Low-Risk children with normal flu symptoms. (AAP)
    • Most patients recover without taking Tamiflu.
    • Antiviral treatment must be started within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. After 48 hours of fever, starting the drug is not helpful.
  5. Return to School:
    • Spread is rapid and the virus is easily passed to others. The time it takes to get the flu after contact is about 2 days. The range is 1-4 days.
    • Your child can return to school after the fever is gone for 24 hours. (CDC).
    • The influenza virus is spread in the air from sneezing and coughing.
    • It also can be spread by the hands with flu germs on them.
  6. What to Expect:
    • The fever lasts 2 -3 days.
    • The runny nose lasts 1-2 weeks.
    • The cough lasts 2-3 weeks.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have other questions or concerns

Influenza Prevention Questions

  1. How to Protect Yourself From Getting Sick:
    • Wash hands often with soap and water.
    • Alcohol-based hand cleaners work very well.
    • Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth. Germs on the hands can spread this way.
    • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
    • Avoid ERs and urgent care clinics if you don’t need to go. These are places where you are more likely to be exposed to flu.
  2. How To Protect Others – Stay Home When Sick:
    • Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water. After coughing or sneezing are important times. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also work well.
    • Limit contact with others to avoid getting them sick.
    • Stay home from school or work while sick with fever. Your child can return to school after the fever is gone for 24 hours. (CDC).
  3. Flu Shot:
    • Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect your family from flu.
    • Influenza vaccines are strongly advised for all children over 6 months of age. (AAP)
    • Adults should also get the shot.
    • The flu shot most often prevents the disease.
    • Even if your child gets the flu, the shot helps to reduce the symptoms.
    • A new flu shot is needed every year. Reason: Flu viruses keep changing.
    • After the flu shot, it takes 2 weeks to fully protect from flu. But then, the protection lasts for the full flu season. An antiviral medicine only protects from flu while taking it.
  4. Antiviral Drug (such as Tamiflu):
    • The drug Tamiflu may help prevent flu after close contact. But, it is only advised for some very High-Risk patients (CDC). See the High-Risk list.
    • The CDC recommends early treatment if flu symptoms occur, not preventive treatment. Reasons: Even after close contact, some children don’t get flu. Also, Tamiflu is helpful only while your child is taking it. It won’t prevent flu once your child stops taking it. To prevent flu, you would need to take the medicine every day for months.
    • Most doctors also wait until flu symptoms start before treating with drugs.
    • If your child is High-Risk, call your doctor within 24 hours of exposure. Your doctor will decide if an antiviral is needed.
    • High-Risk adults with recent close contact should also call their doctor. The High-Risk adult group includes chronic disease, pregnant, or over 65.
  5. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have other questions or concerns

Tamiflu Prescription Questions

  1. Treating Influenza – Tamiflu:
    • Tamiflu is a prescription anti-viral drug. It can be helpful in treating the flu virus.
    • These drugs should be started within 48 hours of when flu symptoms start. After 48 hours of fever, starting the drug is not helpful. It’s taken for a total of 5 days.
    • When to Use: Severe symptoms OR underlying health problems (High-Risk group)
    • For High-Risk children, call your child’s doctor at the start of flu symptoms.
    • Most healthy patients have mild to moderate symptoms. Tamiflu treatment is not needed for these patients.
    • The benefits are limited. Tamiflu reduces the time your child is sick by 1 to 1.5 days. It helps reduce the symptoms, but does not make them go away.
    • Tamiflu also has side effects. It causes vomiting in 10% of children.
    • Also, it is not used to prevent flu. Reason: You would need to take the medicine every day for months.
  2. Personal Stockpiling of Tamiflu – Not Advised:
    • Some people want a prescription for Tamiflu for all family members. They want it on hand just in case they come down with flu. They currently are well and have not been exposed to flu.
    • Doctors and the CDC are opposed to this practice. The AAP and your State’s Public Health Department also do not support this.
    • The supply of Tamiflu is limited. It is used for those with severe symptoms OR who are High-Risk.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have other questions or concerns

Influenza Close Contact Within the Last 7 Days but Low-Risk child

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Although your child was exposed to flu, your child does not have any symptoms.
    • Symptoms usually develop within 1-4 days of seasonal flu contact. 7 days is an outer limit.
    • Even if your child gets the flu, your child most likely will do fine. Anti-viral treatment (Tamiflu) is not needed for Low-Risk children.
    • Healthy children get better from flu by treating the symptoms.
  2. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have other questions or concerns

Influenza Minor Contact (same school) but No Close Contact

  1. What You Should Know:
    • To catch influenza, your child needs to have close contact with an infected person.
    • Close contact includes kissing, hugging, or sharing eating or drinking utensils. It also includes close conversations within 6 feet (2 meters) (CDC 2013). Being in the same child care group or car pool is also close contact.
    • Being in the same school, church or building is not close contact.
    • If there was no close contact, your child probably will not get the flu.
    • Anti-viral medicine (Tamiflu) is not needed for Low-Risk children.
    • Healthy children get better from flu by treating the symptoms.
  2. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have other questions or concerns

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 02/01/2020

Last Revised: 03/14/2019

Copyright 2000-2019 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

Preventing the flu after exposure to the virus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – This flu season is so bad chances are you or someone you know probably already has the virus.

If you come in contact with this person, there’s a very high chance you might get it yourself. The bad news is, it is also showing no signs of slowing down.

“We’ve got three varieties out there. We may go on until late March,” said Physician Jay Holland with Hillcrest Family Clinic.

Flu strands are so contagious because they are airborne.

“A normal cough or sneeze is going to contaminate at least 6 to 10 feet from that person. It’s contagious on contact,” Holland said.

So, how do you prevent the flu when you’ve been in contact with someone who has it?

“If we start early enough, Tamiflu is appropriate,” Holland said.

He said he prescribes the drug to family members who aren’t sick but have been exposed.

“We treat the whole family because that’s the only way to prevent this from spreading is to just treat everybody,” Holland said. “For prevention we use it once a day and for treatment we use it twice a day.”

Dr. Holland has actually asked patients with flu symptoms to stay home and instead has started treating them over the phone.

“We don’t let them come in and contract and give this to our patients,” he said.

Holland said it is important to keep a sick family member away from everyone else. Wiping down surfaces and washing hands should also become routine.

“The hallmark of good medicine starts with good hand washing,” he said.

Lastly, his biggest advice is to call in sick and to get lots of rest.

“If you’re in an office where you’re in close contact with people and you go in, you’re pretty much just going to wipe out your coworkers for an entire week. So it’s just not a good idea,” Holland said.

Holland said it is not too late to get your flu shot, especially if you were recently exposed to the virus. He said the shot prevents the virus from spreading so rapidly.

Why some people don’t get the flu

Why do some people end up in bed feverish, hacking and sneezing for days from the flu — when others seem to never get sick?

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To answer that question, University of Michigan researchers did the first study of its kind: They infected 17 healthy people with the flu virus and discovered that everyone who is exposed to the flu actually is affected by it, but their bodies just have a different way of reacting to it. Half of the study participants got sick; the other half didn’t notice a thing.

“Many people might conclude that if you are exposed to a virus and you don’t get sick, it’s because the virus didn’t stick or it was so weak, it just passed right through your system and your system didn’t notice. That’s not a correct notion,” says Alfred Hero, professor at the University of Michigan College of Engineering and author of the study, which was published Thursday in the journal PLoS Genetics.

He continues, “There is an active immune response which accounts for the resistance of certain people getting sick, and that response is just as active as the response we all know and hate, which is being sick with the sniffles, fever, coughing and sneezing. It’s just that the responses are different.”

Hero, along with scientists from Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, studied participants’ gene expression to watch how the immune system reacted to the flu virus. The analysis reviewed 22,000 genes and 267 blood samples, and used a pattern recognition algorithm and several other methods to discover the genomic signatures associated with the immune response in people who get flu symptoms and those who do not.

They found significant and complex immune responses in the people who got sick and the people who didn’t. Scientists noticed changes in their blood 36 hours before some people actually felt sick. Although they understand that some people’s immune systems resist the virus, they still don’t know how or why that happens.

“There is a behind the scene active immune response even when you don’t get sick,” Hero says. “What we found were differences in their biological metabolism and gene expression. These differences had to do with antioxidants.”

Eventually, if scientists can understand what happens at the level of the genome that makes people more or less susceptible to viral illness, they could potentially develop therapies to prevent the illness.

Lamar Johnson, 44, of Minneapolis, says he’s often wondered if drinking several glasses of juice daily and eating loads of fresh produce keeps him healthy — because in the dead of winter, when everyone around him seems to be suffering from the flu, he never gets sick. In fact, he doesn’t believe he’s ever had the flu in his life.

“I just stay out of the cold, do my best to stay away from sick people and hope I don’t get sick,” he says.

Indeed, Hero says drinking juice, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables to load up on antioxidants may be the answer to avoid getting sick with the flu.

“It’s certainly possible that people who came in had a very high level of antioxidant precursors in their blood, and this may what protected them, but we’re not saying that because we don’t know. You can’t go beyond the data to make these hypotheses.”

Researchers know the flu can be deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of the 15 million to 60 million Americans that get the flu each year, and 5,000 to 45,000 die from it. About 200,000 people end up in the hospital with the flu each year.

Hero says his research could lead to an inexpensive test people could take to tell if they are going to have flu symptoms 36 hours in advance. Hero says, “That way people would know if they need to take time off, cancel their ski vacation or isolate themselves from their grandparents who are very susceptible.”

© 2013 msnbc.com. Reprints

And don’t skimp on nighttime sleep. “Good sleep cycles help the immune system work well, so it’s important to get your full eight hours of sleep each night,” Schaffner says.

4. Humidify. Breathing moist air helps ease nasal congestion and sore throat pain. One good strategy is to indulge in a steamy shower several times a day — or just turn on the shower and sit in the bathroom for a few minutes, inhaling the steam. Another is to use a steam vaporizer or a humidifier. Clean it often to make sure it’s free of mold and mildew.

5. Make a tent. Need a quick way to open clogged airways? Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove it from the heat. Drape a towel over your head, close your eyes, and lean over the water under the “tent,” breathing deeply through your nose for 30 seconds. David Kiefer, MD, clinical instructor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, recommends adding a drop or two of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to the water for extra phlegm-busting power. Repeat this as often as necessary to ease congestion.

6. Try a warm compress. On the forehead and nose, a warm cloth is a great way to relieve headache or sinus pain.

7. Be a sucker. Cough drops, throat lozenges, and hard candy can be surprisingly effective at easing a cough or sore throat. Some doctors, including Kiefer, swear by lozenges containing slippery elm. Others recommend zinc lozenges to help shorten cold symptoms, though Schaffner is not convinced of their effectiveness. “If there is an effect , it’s a small one,” he says. “I wish their effect were as good as their taste is bad.”

8. Swish and spit. Gargling with salt water helps get rid of the thick mucus that can collect at the back of the throat, especially after you’ve been lying down. It can also help ease stuffy ears, Kiefer says.

9. Try nasal irrigation. To ease stuffiness and post-nasal drip — and perhaps cut the risk of getting a sinus infection — some doctors recommend nasal irrigation. You can buy a neti pot in health food stores and drugstores, or opt for a saline squeeze bottle. You pour salt water into one nostril and let it run out the other, clearing out your nasal passages. You can buy pre-made saline solution or make it by mixing salt and lukewarm sterile or distilled water.

10. Line up a caregiver. A caregiver can’t lower your temperature or cure a sore throat, but “having someone to tuck you into bed and bring you fluids is very comforting,” says Blackwelder. If a friend or family member offers to help, even if it’s only to stop by and check in on you, count your blessings — and take them up on it.

People with a depressed immune system or nutrient deficiencies may be more prone to catching the flu or a cold. Stress, lack of sleep and exposure to toxins can worsen flu symptoms.

Fortunately, there are flu natural remedies that can help.

What Is the Flu?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. These viruses spread through the air from person to person.

Signs and symptoms of flu may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Although anyone can get the flu, young children, pregnant women and adults 65 years old and older are at greater risk of developing serious flu-related complications. (1)

Conventional Treatment

Conventional flu treatment includes antiviral drugs and vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends injectable influenza vaccines for everyone over 6 months and older. Vaccine injections are available as an inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) and a recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV).

There are a few things you should know about the flu vaccine ahead of time. For one thing, it doesn’t work right away, but takes about two weeks before it is effective. This is why the CDC recommends getting the vaccine in the fall, before the flu season is at its worst.

Another thing you need to know is that you can still get the flu even though you’ve been vaccinated. The virus that’s used to make the vaccine does not always “match” the virus that is circulating the community. The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year to year because flu viruses are constantly changing, which is called antigenic drift, and experts do their best to pick the viruses to include in the vaccine many months before flu season begins. It’s not possible to be 100 percent sure which flu viruses will be most prominent in any given season, so the protection of a flu vaccine is not guaranteed.

In fact, 2017–18’s flu vaccine was widely considered a failure. A study released by the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, tracked flu cases among 4,562 children and adults in the U.S. from November 2, 2017–February 3, 2018. They found the flu shot was 36 percent effective overall — meaning it reduced the chance of getting the flu by about a third. (2)

Meanwhile, the vaccine’s effectiveness against the most common strain (H3N2) this past flu season was even worse: 25 percent. So while a flu shot can be between 50 and 70 percent some years, lately this is not the case.

There are also side effects from getting the flu shot, such as soreness or swelling at the site of the injection, body aches and fever. These vaccines often contain dangerous chemicals and preservatives, which can cause adverse reasons, and, on rare occasions, they may even cause severe allergic reactions. (3)

The CDC recently made some additions to the 2007 guidelines on nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to protect oneself and others against the flu. Some of the recommendations for personal NPIs include: (4)

  • Staying home when you’re sick.
  • Staying home if you’ve been exposed to a sick family or household member.
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer.
  • Covering your nose or mouth with a mask or cloth if you are sick and have to be around others at a community gathering of people.

Implementing these behaviors can help stop the spread of flu. You may be wondering how to get rid of the flu in 24 hours without medicine. If you or a loved one already has the flu, read on below for some home flu natural remedies you can use to find relief from your symptoms.

12 Flu Natural Remedies

So, how do you get rid of the flu naturally? Home remedies for the flu include vitamins C and D, herbal supplements, essential oils, probiotics and eating healthy. Try these flu natural remedies to help relieve your symptoms.

1. Vitamin C (1,000 mg 3–4x daily)

Vitamin C helps with immune system function and boosts white blood cells. Research shows that vitamin C has shortened the duration of colds and can decrease the number of colds in physically active people. (4)

Take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily to ward off a cold or the flu and up to 4,000 milligrams daily when you are experiencing symptoms. For the most dietary vitamin C, eat whole fruits and vegetables.

2. Vitamin D3 (2,000 IU daily)

Vitamin D is produced in the body by sunlight and regulates the expression of over 2,000 genes, including those of the immune system. Unfortunately, up to 90 percent of people are deficient in vitamin D. (5a) Recent research shows that low vitamin D levels are linked to higher rates of cold, flu and respiratory infections. (5b)

Many physicians believe that current recommended daily amounts of vitamin D are far too low, and that 2,000 units rather than 200–400 units per day is a better choice. You can also order home testing kits to test your vitamin D levels.

3. Echinacea (1,000 mg 2–3x daily)

This herb can help your body fight off infections, but it is best to take it at the first sign of illness.

An extract of echinacea was tested in a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial in 2013. Researchers found that the echinacea effectively treated respiratory tract infections in the short- and long-term, and didn’t cause the same resistance as a popular flu medication, oseltamivir, often causes when treating this illness. (6)

A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study conducted in 2000 indicates that drinking five to six cups of echinacea tea per day as soon as upper respiratory symptoms developed, and reducing the number to one cup of tea over a 5-day period, was effective for relieving cold and flu symptoms. (7)

Echinacea acts as an anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce bronchial symptoms of cold and flu. It directly attacks yeast and other kinds of fungus.

Different preparations have different concentrations of echinacea. Some common preparations and dosages include:

  • Tablets containing 6.78 milligrams of echinacea extract, two tablets three times a day
  • 900 milligrams of echinacea root tincture daily
  • Five to six cups of echinacea tea on the first day of symptoms, and then 1 cup a day thereafter

4. Elderberry (10 mL daily)

It is believed that this herb can deactivate the flu virus and naturally boost immunity. The flowers and berries of elderberry are said to boost the immune system, treat flu and relieve sinus pain.

Elderberry does seem to attack flu viruses and reduce bronchial inflammation. A preliminary study found that when 15 milliliters of elderberry syrup was taken four times daily for a five-day period, it relieved symptoms of influenza an average of four days earlier than those taking a placebo. (8)

5. Oregano Oil (500 mg 2x daily)

Oregano oil has a powerful antiviral effect. I like to use oregano oil to fight viral infections and although there aren’t studies evaluating the efficacy of oregano on influenza specifically, there is research that indicates the powerful antiviral properties of the essential oil. (9, 10)

6. Zinc (50–100 mg daily)

Zinc supports immune function and has an antiviral effect. (11, 12) It works best when taken at the first sign of illness. Zinc may lessen the symptoms of the cold virus, but excessive amounts aren’t good for you. Zinc pills and sprays do not seem to be effective.

Take 50–100 milligrams of zinc daily to ward off or treat cold and flu symptoms.

7. Brewer’s Yeast

This popular supplement contains B vitamins, chromium and protein. It is used for cold, flu and other respiratory tract infections. In fish, brewer’s yeast stimulates immunity by positively influence the microbiome, which may also improve digestive function. (13a)

Research conducted at the University of Michigan Medical Center found that a yeast supplement was able to reduce cold and flu symptom severity, and lead to significantly shorter duration of symptoms in patients. (13b)

8. Essential Oils for Flu

Rubbing peppermint and frankincense essential oil into the neck and bottoms of the feet can naturally support the immune system. (14, 15)

I also like to use clove oil to protect my body against infection and speed recovery from the flu. Research confirms that clove oil has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. (16)

9. Chiropractic Care for Flu Prevention

During the 1918 flu epidemic, flu patients that received chiropractic care survived much more readily than those that didn’t. This is because chiropractic care focuses on the health of your nervous system, which can help to boost your immunity. (16)

A 2011 study showed some promise for chiropractic adjustments and their potential to help boost the immune system. (17)

10. Probiotics

Restoring the beneficial bacteria in your gut can help boost your immune system considerably.

A lab study conducted in 2017 showed that a particular strain of probiotics, Bacillus bacteria, demonstrated anti-influenza activity, with complete inhibition of the influenza virus. (18)

A 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials evaluated the effects of probiotics and prebiotics on the immune response to the influenza vaccination. The results showed that participants who took probiotics and prebiotics showed significant improvements in the H1N1 and H3N2 strain protection rates. This suggests that taking probiotics may elevate your immunity. (19)

11. Get Fresh Air

Indoor winter environments can be a source of concentrated toxins and germs. The dry air we inhale as we heat our homes during the winter makes airways more reactive and sensitive to viruses.

An added bonus to time spent outdoors in the winter is the extra bit of sunlight you receive.

12. Top Foods for Flu Recovery

Also, these are the best foods to consume while you recover from the flu.

Light, easy-to-digest foods: Include soups with bone broth, cooked vegetables or herbal teas to help with digestion. Don’t force yourself to eat.

Water: Adequate hydration is the key to flushing out the virus from your system. Fluid helps your body to flush bacteria and viruses from your system. Drink approximately half your body weight in ounces daily of either spring water or reverse osmosis filtered water. Green and black teas are potent immune system boosters and antioxidants. Try to drink at least eight ounces every two hours.

Hot water with lemon, honey, and cinnamon: Honey and cinnamon helps prevent mucus buildup and keeps you hydrated.

Ginger: Make a ginger tea and add raw honey.

Garlic and onions: Both of these vegetable help boost immune function.

Tips to Stay Cold- & Flu-Free All Year

Step 1: Eat Real Food

Now if you’ve been a regular reader on my site, you’ll know what I mean by “real” food. But for those of you who don’t, let me explain. Real food is the food that is most natural, found in nature with the least amount of processing involved before it reaches your table.

This food keeps us healthy and helps us naturally fight disese. Foods like apples, carrots, raw nuts and seeds. Foods that haven’t been loaded with hormones, pesticides and other unnatural chemicals. These are the foods you can grow (or raise) in your own backyard in an organic garden or by raising your own chickens for example.

The other foods that many Americans consume on a daily basis are what I like to call “fake” foods. These are the foods you’ll find on shelf after shelf, aisle after aisle at the grocery store. Foods that have been highly processed, modified and so transformed from their original state that they hardly resemble the original food at all.

Think cheese curls, soda, fruit snacks, microwave meals, etc.

Eating a variety of real, healing foods provides your body with all the nutrients it needs to function and stay healthy. This should be your first food choice on a daily basis.

Step 2: Exercise

Although when you think of preventing a cold, you don’t necessarily think, “I’d better exercise if I don’t want to get sick,” this is one of the best ways to improve your overall health and stay healthy during cold and flu season.

According to researcher Michael Flynn, who studies the impact of exercise on the immune system at Purdue University, 30 minutes of exercise, three or four times a week, is the best way to boost your immune system. Any more could actually begin to have the reverse effect. (20)

Flynn explained that one study found running 10 miles a week boosted the immune system but raise that to 20 miles a week and you increase the risk for infections.

This is why I recommend burst training as opposed to long distance cardiovascular exercise.

Step 3: Get Plenty of Sleep

Now this old wives’ tale still holds true today. When you’re sick you need to get plenty of rest, but you can’t really “catch up” on sleep or make up for weeks or months of too little sleep.

Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is key to maintaining good health. Studies show that lack of sleep is associated with health problems and the inability to lose weight. According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, one adverse effect of not getting enough sleep is a compromised immune system. (21)

Step 4: Enjoy Life!

There’s nothing like stress to bring on all sorts of physical ailments including colds and flus. According to Laurel Mellin, associate clinical professor at the University of California in San Francisco and founder of EBT Inc., 80 percent of health problems are stress-induced.

Mellin has developed a new approach for dealing with stress. It involves using the tools already in place in your brain to move through stress and quickly get to feeling peaceful and balanced. (22)

One of the best ways to beat stress is to balance your life with fun. Remember the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? Well, no play will make Jack a miserable and dull boy. Take time to enjoy life and build joy everyday. Whether it’s taking time to listen to your favorite music, or going to the movies or theater, or playing sports with your family or friends, it’s vital to include fun in your day — especially when it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

Step 5: Get Plenty of Vitamin D

More and more is being revealed lately about the vast health benefits of vitamin D. Previously known to impact bone health, vitamin D deficiency is now implicated in many health issues. (23)

According to long time vitamin D researcher, Dr. Michael Holick, the best way to obtain vitamin D is through safe sun exposure. That’s right, he advises you to get sun – but safely. In his book entitled “The Vitamin D Solution,” Holick says that a lack of vitamin D (that many Westerners are unknowingly suffering from) can wreak havoc on the body, including the immune system.

To beat a cold or flu make sure you get plenty of safe sun exposure on a regular basis. If you live somewhere that only gets sun seasonally it’s a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement until your levels are adequate enough to take you through these sunless seasons.

Step 6: Take a Whole Food Multivitamin

Taking a multi-vitamin is a great step towards protecting your health. But not all multi-vitamins are good for you. It’s vital that you choose a whole food multi-vitamin, not a synthetic one. Whole food multi-vitamins are as close to the real source of the vitamins and minerals that you can get. In fact, your body will be better able to recognize it, digest it and absorb the nutrients in it. Some high-quality multivitamins will come with fermented (pre-digested) nutrients, which may make the nutrients easier to absorb.

Step 7: Avoid Sugar

Sugar is one of the worst things to consume, especially if you’re trying to stay healthy — and who isn’t? Sugars weaken the immune system and help bacteria to grow. Avoiding sugars is key to staying healthy, particularly when you’re under stress or in the middle of cold and flu season.

There are great, all-natural sweeteners on the market so you don’t have to go without. Try stevia or raw honey in moderation. (And avoid artificial sweeteners — they’re fake foods!) Be sure to check labels of the foods you’re eating and avoid sugars here too.

No one wants to come down with a cold or the flu anytime. When you take the above seven steps to stay healthy, you’ll not only beat colds and the flu, you’ll also be protecting your body from other more serious chronic diseases that could really compromise your health down the road.


If you or a loved one experience complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, or have a high fever that won’t go down, see your healthcare provider right away. If you catch the flu and you have a chronic condition, such as asthma, or you are pregnant, see your doctor.

Final Thoughts

  • The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.
  • Conventional flu treatment includes antiviral drugs and vaccines.
  • Try flu natural remedies to help relieve your symptoms.
  • See your doctor right away if you get the flu and you have a chronic medical condition or you are pregnant. Also, get medical care if you experience flu complications, such as pneumonia.

Read Next: Use Antiviral Herbs to Boost Immune System & Fight Infection

Can You Buy Tamiflu Over the Counter?

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You can get a prescription for Tamiflu from your doctor, but it is not available over the counter, yet.

Tamiflu will be available over the counter in the coming months. In July, 2019 drug manufacturer Sanofi, obtained the rights to sell Tamiflu over the counter in the US. While they have not released at date for when Tamiflu will be available over the counter, it is expected to happen within the next year. Until then you can get a prescription for Tamiflu online by clicking, here.

Tamiflu is an antiviral medication used for the treatment and prevention of influenza (flu). It has been shown to be effective at helping to prevent the flu, and at reducing the severity or duration of the symptoms of flu if you start taking it very soon after you start feeling sick.

What is Tamiflu?

Tamiflu is the brand name of an antiviral drug called oseltamivir phosphate.

Tamiflu can be prescribed by your doctor and may help lessen the symptoms of the flu if you start taking it within 48 hours of your first symptoms.

On average, Tamiflu can help you recover 12 to 24 hours faster than if you don’t take any medication at all.

Not everyone needs Tamiflu – it is recommended for people who might be at risk of more serious complications of the flu, such as pregnant women, children, older people, or people who have autoimmune diseases or reduced immunity.

How Does Tamiflu Work?

Tamiflu works by attacking the flu virus to prevent it from spreading throughout your body.

This medication works best if it is started within one to two days of your first symptoms.

The dose of Tamiflu depends on why you are taking it. If somebody close to you has got the flu and you are trying to avoid getting it yourself, your doctor may prescribe a prescription for Tamiflu once a day for at least 10 days.

If you already have the flu, your doctor may prescribe Tamiflu once every 12 hours for five days.

When to Use Tamiflu

Tamiflu only works for the flu, not simple coughs and colds caused by other viruses.

If you aren’t sure whether you have a cold or the flu and are unsure if you might benefit from Tamiflu, there a few differences that can help distinguish the two illnesses.

The flu tends to come on quickly. It gives you a kind of all-over achiness caused by inflammation in your muscles, this also makes you feel very tired and fatigued.

With a cold, although it is common to feel unwell, symptoms usually stay in your nasal passages or your upper chest. Common cold symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, cough, and congestion.

Generally, with a cold there is no high fever. But with the flu, you may get a fever of 100.4° F or higher.

Common symptoms of the flu may include:




Vomiting and nausea with stomach flu

Sore Throat

Body aches




Runny Nose

How to Get a Tamiflu Prescription

The process of getting Tamiflu starts with getting a diagnosis and prescription from a doctor.

However, making a doctor’s appointment and taking the time off of work can be difficult, particularly if you are feeling unwell and don’t want to leave the house!

Read: How Do Online Doctor Appointments Work

Thankfully, it is now possible to speak to a doctor online or over the phone to discuss your symptoms from the comfort of your own home, and at a time that suits you.

Websites such as PlushCare offer easy access to healthcare. A licensed physician will assess your symptoms and be able to prescribe a medication such as Tamiflu if you decide together that you will benefit from it.

Read More About Getting Tamiflu Prescriptions Online

  • Get Flu Treatment Online
  • What to do When You Have the Flu
  • Can an Online Doctor Write a Prescription?
  • How do Online Doctor Visits Work?
  • Benefits of an Online Doctor Consultation

Article Sources

It started with the achy muscles and quickly escalated to runny nose, fever, cough, and chills. You have the flu.

At first, you might think to treat it like a bad cold — but the flu is different. Doctors explain what NOT to do when you’re sick with the flu.

It’s a bad flu season: Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself

Jan. 17, 201803:25

1. Skip the cough medicine.

The flu can cause a nasty cough that leaves you exhausted and sore. But over-the-counter cough medicines aren’t effective at quashing coughing, doctors say.

That’s because the doses of cough suppressants in these medications are too low, according to Dr. Richard Irwin, a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts, and chairman of the cough guidelines committee for the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).

“Typically, they don’t work,” Whitley-Williams agreed.

Cough medicines that contain opioids like codeine should never be given to children, the Food and Drug Administration warned in early January.

“Children should not take any cough or cold medications,” said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at the University of Wisconsin Health. “They are not beneficial and might be harmful.”

Also, whatever you do, don’t mix products containing acetaminophen like Tylenol or Nyquil or Theraflu. The recommended daily dosage — for the entire 24 hours — is no more than 4,000 milligrams (mg). Going over that dosage just little can cause severe liver damage.

2. Don’t take antibiotics.

A virus causes the flu. Only antiviral medications treat viruses. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections.

“Influenza is a virus. It is not cured or treated by typical antibiotics,” said Dr. Patricia Whitley-Williams, division chief of allergy, immunology, and infectious disease in pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

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Antiviral prescription drugs like Tamiflu do treat the flu, although doctors generally only prescribe it to people with compromised immune systems or who are more susceptible to illness, such as young children, older adults, or pregnant women.

“Those are the groups that should seek attention,” said Safdar. Tamiflu works best when given within a day or so of the first symptoms, so don’t wait to see the doctor if a high-risk loved one shows signs.

3. Don’t lie down.

This may be the most difficult! High fever. Aches. Chills. All you have strength to do is put your head on a pillow. Resting during the flu is very important, but lying down makes it harder on the lungs. Lying upright will make it easier to clear the lungs.

“It feels better to have your head up and it makes it easier to breathe,” said Whitley Williams.

Safdar said sitting up right stops the congestion from trickling down the back of the throat and causing a tickling feeling. Which leads to … more coughing.

4. Don’t give children aspirin.

When the fever hits it can cause a headache and people desperate for relief might try aspirin. But aspirin, and other drugs called salicylates, can cause a serious complication in children under 18 known as Reye’s syndrome. This can lead to problems with the liver and brain.

Whitely-Williams recommends acetaminophen or ibuprofen for reducing fever. But be very careful about reading labels of any over-the-counter or prescription medications you take, especially if you’re combining medications — overdoses can lead to serious complications.

As for adults taking aspirin or other fever reducers, a 2014 study using math projections suggested it may actually make the infection last longer and increase your risk of spreading the infection.

“An individual whose fever has been reduced is likely to feel better and is therefore more likely to interact with others,” the researchers from McMaster University in Ontario wrote. “In addition, fever suppression may increase both the rate and duration of viral shedding, further increasing the pathogen’s transmission rate.”

5. Don’t drink a hot toddy.

While alcohol makes people feel drowsy, it doesn’t lead to good sleep and can contribute to dehydration.

Resting up and staying hydrated are both needed to help people recover from the flu. What more, booze can make people feel worse.

“Flu can often make people feel very sick and that can include making people feel very delirious and something that can affect your thinking (like alcohol) is not recommended,” said Safdar.

6. Don’t take a cold shower to reduce fever.

When trying to reduce their fevers some people take cold showers or an ice bath. But that has the opposite effect.

“Do not use an ice bath or cold. It will make the fever go up,” said Whitley-Williams. “Sponge down in lukewarm water.”

Tepid water actually helps break fevers.

7. Don’t go to work.

“It is so important that you stay home and get rest and try to get over the flu. Otherwise when you go to work you are exposing all your coworkers to influenza,” said Whitley-Williams. “You are putting people are risk.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people do not go to work until they have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of anti-fever medications, said Safdar.

Home Remedies: Fighting the flu

Influenza (flu) viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs by touching an object where the droplets have landed, such as a telephone or computer.


Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever over 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Aching muscles, especially in your back, arms and legs
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea and vomiting in children

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you do come down with the flu, these measures may help ease your symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Choose water, juice and warm soups to prevent dehydration. Drink enough so that your urine is clear or pale yellow.
  • Rest. Get more sleep to help your immune system fight infection.
  • Try chicken soup. It’s not just good for the soul. It’s thought that chicken soup can help break up sinus congestion.

  • Consider pain relievers. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), to combat the achiness associated with influenza. Remember pain relievers may make you feel more comfortable. but they won’t make your symptoms go away any faster. They may also have side effects. Don’t give aspirin to children or teens because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal condition.


Flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from an object — such as a telephone or computer keyboard — and then transfer them to your eyes, nose or mouth.

People with the virus are likely contagious from the day or so before symptoms first appear until about five days after symptoms begin, though sometimes people are contagious for as long as 10 days after symptoms appear. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be contagious for a slightly longer time.

Influenza viruses are constantly changing, with new strains appearing regularly. If you’ve had influenza in the past, your body has already made antibodies to fight that particular strain of the virus. If future influenza viruses are similar to those you’ve encountered before, either by having the disease or by vaccination, those antibodies may prevent infection or lessen its severity.

But antibodies against flu viruses you’ve encountered in the past can’t protect you from new influenza subtypes that can be very different immunologically from what you had before.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone over the age of 6 months.

Each year’s seasonal flu vaccine contains protection from the three or four influenza viruses that are expected to be the most common during that year’s flu season. This year the vaccine is recommended as an injection only. The CDC no longer recommends nasal spray flu vaccinations because during the last three flu seasons, the spray has been relatively ineffective.

Controlling the spread of infection

The influenza vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, so it’s also important to take measures such as these to reduce the spread of infection:

  • Wash your hands. Thorough and frequent hand-washing is an effective way to prevent many common infections. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren’t readily available.
  • Contain your coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow.
  • Avoid crowds. Flu spreads easily wherever people congregate — in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season, you reduce your chances of infection. And, if you’re sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides so that you lessen your chance of infecting others.

When to see a doctor

Most people who get the flu can treat themselves at home and often don’t need to see a doctor.

If you have flu symptoms and are at risk of complications, see your doctor right away. Taking antiviral drugs within the first 48 hours after you first notice symptoms may reduce the length of your illness and help prevent more-serious problems.

7 Tips For Fighting Colds and Flu

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At first, you may just feel unusually tired. Then, you notice that your throat is scratchy and you’ve developed a cough. Soon enough, the telltale headache, congestion and body aches follow. Colds and flu can strike quickly and make you miserable. They can also cost you valuable work and family time, cutting your productivity and interrupting your plans.
There never seems to be a convenient time to catch a cold or to come down with the flu. Here’s a checklist of some steps you can take to avoid getting the flu and colds this winter:

Get a flu shot

Getting inoculated against the flu is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the virus. Be sure to get your flu shot as early as possible for maximum protection. Be sure to do your research, though. People with egg allergies, allergies to other flu shot ingredients or a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome may not be able to have flu shots. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns.

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly

Washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap is also a proven, effective way to avoid flu and cold germs. For the best protection, use an ample amount of soap and rub hands together for 20-30 seconds before rinsing them. While soap and water is best, you can use an alcohol-based hand rub when you don’t have access to water. In addition to washing your hands before eating meals and after bathroom visits, also wash them after shaking hands or coming into contact with people or surfaces during flu season.

Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes

Flu and cold germs are often spread when you touch your hands to your face. So, it’s helpful to use a paper towel or tissue when touching faucets, doorknobs and handles in public places. You can also carry your own pens during flu season to avoid contracting germs when passing them back and forth.

Stay away from sick people

Avoid coming into close contact with anyone who has flu or cold symptoms. If you must care for someone who is sick, wash your hands more often and don’t share dishes, eating utensils, towels or bed linens. Wipe down whatever they touch, and encourage them to use tissues when they sneeze or cough.

Keep your work space clean

At work, clean your phone, desktop, light switches and chair armrests regularly with antibacterial soap or wipes. At home, clean things that family members tend to share or touch, like faucets, light switches, doorknobs and remote controls. If you share a car with other people, remember to wipe down the steering wheel, gear shift and door handles.

Be careful at the gym

The warm, humid environment of many gyms combined with people sharing exercise equipment can make workout areas veritable germ factories. You don’t have to skip the gym, but take special care to wipe down all surfaces before using commonly used machines, and remember to place towels on surfaces before you sit or lie down.

Take care of yourself

For a strong immune system, eat a balanced diet, get plenty of rest and avoid stress. Regular exercise can also serve to boost your immune system, so be sure to make time for that year-round.
If you do come down with a bad cold or the flu, isolate yourself as much as possible to avoid spreading germs to others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should stay home at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever reducing medicine) except to seek medical care, if necessary. Here are some things to remember when you’re fighting a cold and to help with flu recovery:
• Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.
• Get plenty of rest.
• Drink lots of fluids like water, tea, fruit juices and electrolyte drinks. (See below for our hot tea recipe.)
• Chicken broth and chicken soup can provide nutritional value while soothing sore throats and stuffy nasal passages.
• The steam from showers and baths can lessen sinus pressure, and warm compresses on your nose, mouth, eyes and forehead can help ease sinus pain.
• Using an over-the-counter saline solution to can rinse nasal passages, and gargling a mixture of warm water and salt can help sore throat discomfort.
• Over the counter decongestants, antihistamines, cough suppressant and pain and fever relievers can also help with cold and flu symptoms.
• Antiviral drugs can help with severe flu cases by making symptoms milder, shortening the duration and helping to prevent complications. Antivirals require a prescription and should be started within two days of symptom onset for best results.
Having any symptoms associated with a cold or flu can be a miserable experience, and over-the-counter drugs just don’t cut it sometimes. For those instances that leave you with a sore throat, nasty headache or upset stomach that you can’t seem to shake, we’re offering up our two favorite homeopathic recipes to help get you feeling like yourself again:
• Tea: All you need for this is a loose leaf infuser (or a makeshift version made from a coffee filter), some peppermint or spearmint leaves, ginger root and hot water. Cut up the mint leaves, along with the ginger, and insert them into your infuser. Poor hot water over the mechanism and let it steep. The mint will help clear your sinuses and sooth your throat, while the ginger plays a big roll in settling that upset stomach and getting rid of your headaches. Feel free to add some raw honey for a little bit of sweetness.
• Liquid Flu Shot: Don’t worry, this doesn’t include any needles. It’s just a little mini concoction to give you a bit of that soothing affect. (This doesn’t take the place of an actual flu shot.) Poor a glass full of orange juice, add a drop of echinacea, a drop of yerba santa and a squeeze of lemon, then use this mixture to wash down a garlic bulb capsule. Sounds crazy, we know. Try not to expect the best tasting cocktail you’ve ever had, but be prepared to start feeling better. You can do this every day that you don’t feel well. We especially recommend it at the first sign of congestion.
Remember, antibiotics treat bacterial infections, colds and flu are viral infections. While it’s possible to develop secondary bacterial infections from colds and flu, antibiotics are usually not effective in treating primary viral infections. Ask your doctor about the best course of treatment for your particular case.
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