Diagnosis and Treatment

Influenza (flu) is usually diagnosed by a complete physical examination and reviewing your symptoms and medical history. However, there is a flu test now available. It consists of swabbing the throat or nasal passage and then testing the specimen for the presence of the virus. The results are usually available within 15 minutes and can identify what type of flu you have.

Influenza (Flu) Treatment Options

There are several treatment routes that one can take to speed up recovery from the flu and lessen symptoms.

Natural Remedies

  • Hydration: Fluid is lost from fever and rapid breathing. Increasing water intake is very helpful in combating the infection, along with citrus juices for Vitamin C.
  • Food: Even with a decreased appetite, eating provides the nutrition to maintain strength and boost immunity. Taking vitamin supplements (especially zinc) is also helpful.
  • Sleep: Sleeping helps cell generation and also boosts immunity.
  • Echinacea*: Echinacea is an herb considered to be an antiviral agent and stimulant for immunity.
  • Goldenseal herb (hydrastis canadensis)*: This herb is touted as an immunity stimulant.
  • Garlic and onion*: These vegetables have antiviral effects.
  • Huang qi or astragalus*: These herbs are thought to boost immunity.

*It is important to note that, although alternative or holistic practitioners tout these herbal remedies, they have not been scientifically proven to help fight the flu.

Drug Remedies

  • Decongestants: Decreases congestion in the nasal passageway
  • Anti-inflammatories: Reduces aches and fever while the body’s defenses combat the viral infection
  • Neuraminidase inhibitors: Given to patients who have had the flu for less than 48 hours; stops the spread of the influenza virus in the body to hasten recovery and inhibit secondary infections; reduces the amount of time symptoms are present
  • Antibiotics: Might be prescribed if the flu persists for more than one week; prevents secondary bacterial invaders that cause pneumonia
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