How to Get over the Flu Quickly

You've probably had your share of colds that you worked through with minor inconveniences. Unfortunately, flu symptoms are usually too abrupt and intense to allow you to go about your daily routine. You can manage the symptoms and recover faster if you rest and stay hydrated. These are the best things you can do to reduce the length of the illness, which should resolve on its own with 1 week. However, you can also try natural remedies to see if they help to reduce the flu's duration even more.


[Edit]Taking Care of Yourself

  1. Take time off of work or stay home from school. Don't go out in public until you've been fever-free without taking fever-reducing medication for at least 24 hours. If you go out before you've completely gotten over the flu, you could catch a new virus since your immune system is weakened.[1]
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  2. Rest and sleep as much as possible. These are the best things you can do to reduce the amount of time that you're sick. Your body is using a lot of energy to heal. If you do too much around your house or at work, you're using up valuable energy that could be used to fight the virus.[2]
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    • Although you'll feel the weakest and most tired during the first 3 days of the flu, it's important to rest a lot during the first full week that you're sick.
  3. Soak in a hot bath or use a hot water bottle to relieve muscle aches. Your body may feel sore all over during the first 3 days of the flu. Run a hot bath and soak in it for at least 20 minutes to relax your muscles. If you don't feel like taking a bath, fill a hot water bottle and position it under your back or legs.[3]
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    • The hot water bottle is a great option if you're curled up on the couch or in bed and don't feel like getting out.
  4. Wear layers so you can add or remove clothes to feel comfortable. When you have the flu, you might find that you're feverish but then you get chills. Dress in soft layers that are easy to add on or remove depending on how you're feeling.[4]
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    • For example, wear a comfy T-shirt with a loose long-sleeved shirt over it. If you feel hot later, you can remove the long-sleeved shirt. If you get chills, add a light fleece top instead.
  5. Ask for help from family or friends. It can be difficult to take a break from your responsibilities and you might feel like you're falling behind. Since you can only recover quickly if you rest, reach out to family or friends if you need some help around the house. This allows you to fully recuperate.[5]
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    • Instead of driving yourself to the pharmacy, ask a friend to go for you, for instance. If you need help caring for your kids, you could ask your mom to come give you a hand.

[Edit]Using Medication

  1. Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers to ease aches and lower your fever. Although you can't take medication to treat the flu, you can use it to manage your flu symptoms. Try ibuprofen or acetaminophen to lower your fever, soothe your headache, or relieve muscle aches during the early days of the flu.[6]
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    • Follow the manufacturer's dosing instructions when taking the OTC pain relievers.
  2. Suck on lozenges to relieve a sore throat. If your throat feels scratchy or it hurts to swallow, suck on your favorite kind of throat lozenge. The lozenges don't have to contain zinc or vitamins since there's not much research to suggest that they reduce the length of the flu.[7]
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    • If you do use a cold and flu lozenge, check to see if it contains acetaminophen. If it does, don't use it along with OTC acetaminophen since this could result in an overdose.
    • You can also gargle a glass of warm water to relieve your sore throat.
  3. Use decongestants to help soothe or clear a stuffy nose. If you're experiencing clogged sinuses, you might find it uncomfortable to breathe through your nose. Buy an OTC decongestant that you can take by mouth or spray into your nostrils. They'll shrink your swollen blood vessels to ease congestion.[8]
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    • If you have a chronic health condition or are taking other prescription medications, talk to your doctor before using a decongestant.
  4. Contact your doctor immediately if you're in a high-risk group. While many people fully recover from the flu without needing medical attention, you should call your doctor if you're in an at-risk group for developing complications from the flu. Call your doctor if you:[9]
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    • Are 65 years old or older
    • Are pregnant or have had a baby within the last 2 weeks
    • Have a chronic medical condition, such as asthma or heart disease
    • Have a body mass index (BMI) of more than 40
    • Have a neurologic or neurodevelopmental condition, such as cerebral palsy
  5. Take anti-flu medication within the first 48 hours of noticing your symptoms. If you're in a high-risk group or you call your doctor as soon as you notice flu symptoms, they may prescribe antiviral medication. Depending on your prescription, you might need to take 2 pills for up to 5 days or get an intravenous solution for 15 to 30 minutes. Antivirals are also available as a liquid or powder that you inhale.[10]
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    • The antivirals can ease your flu symptoms and reduce the amount of time that you're sick by 1 to 2 days.

[Edit]Staying Hydrated

  1. Drink extra fluids throughout the day. If you have a fever, runny nose, or cough, your body is losing fluid that you need to replace. Try to drink 1 glass of water every hour that you're awake. If you get tired of drinking water, sip:[11]
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    • Electrolyte solutions
    • Diluted juice or sports drinks
    • Diluted ginger ale
    • Water infused with lemon or mint
  2. Sip warm tea to get fluids and soothe a sore throat. You might find that warm liquids feel better on your throat than cold water. Brew a pot of decaffeinated or herbal tea and let it cool until it's comfortable to drink. If you have an extra scratchy throat, stir in a little honey to coat your throat.[12]
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    • Decaffeinated tea won't keep you awake like other caffeinated beverages.
    • Warm liquids can thin mucus that's clogging your nasal passages.
  3. Eat nutritious soups that fill you up and hydrate you. You might not feel like eating very much, but sipping on clear soup or broth can give your body energy to fight the flu. For example, try some classic chicken noodle soup to warm you and keep you hydrated.[13]
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    • If you do feel up to eating food, choose hydrating foods, such as watermelon or cucumbers.
    • Avoid eating processed food and food and drinks that contain added sugar while you have the flu.
  4. Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine. You shouldn't mix cold and flu medications with alcohol. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks can also dehydrate you or make you feel more nauseated. The best thing for your body is water.[14]
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[Edit]Trying Natural Remedies

  1. Eat more foods that are rich in vitamin C or take a supplement. Citrus fruits, peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, apples, and many other fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C, so make sure to include at least 1-2 servings in your daily diet. You can also take a vitamin C supplement to ensure that you’re getting enough.[15]
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    • Try taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily to reduce the duration of your flu symptoms.
    • Keep in mind that studies have only shown a connection between reduced cold duration and vitamin C supplementation, but there is a chance that this may also be helpful for the flu.
  2. Drink of elderberry syrup daily. You can purchase elderberry syrup in the supplements section of many grocery stores. Take the syrup daily at the first signs of the flu. Doing so may help to shorten the duration and reduce the severity of your symptoms.[16]
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    • Elderberry supplements are also available in pill form and as lozenges and gummies.
  3. Try taking a zinc lozenge at the first signs of the flu. Look for lozenges that contain 50-100 mg of zinc in a drug or grocery store. Some people have reported decreased cold duration as a result of taking zinc supplements at the first signs of a cold, so this may also be helpful for reducing the duration of the flu.[17]
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  4. Take a daily vitamin D supplement to help prevent the flu. After you recover from the flu, you may want to take a daily vitamin D supplement to avoid a recurrence. Vitamin D has been shown to help prevent the flu and common cold.[18]
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    • Adults may take up to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day.
  5. Drink a cup of Echinacea tea at the first signs of the flu. Echinacea tea may reduce the duration of the flu when you consume it soon after your symptoms begin. Start with 5-6 cups on the first day you symptoms begin and drink 1 less cup per day for 5 days. For example, drink 5-6 cups on the first day, 4-5 cups on the second day, 3-4 cups on the third day, 2-3 cups on the fourth day, and 1-2 cups on the fifth day.[19]
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    • Echinacea tea is available in most grocery stores.


  • Your doctor won't prescribe antibiotics for the flu because the flu is caused by a virus, not bacteria.[20]
  • Avoid smoking since this will irritate your airways, especially if you're congested or coughing.


  • If your baby or child under 2 years old develops flu symptoms, call their pediatrician immediately.