Resting and staying hydrated can help you get over the flu fast. Taking antivirals within 48 hours of symptom onset can also help you bounce back faster.

The flu is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Flu symptoms typically last about a week, but the most severe symptoms only occur for two to three days (though it might feel like an eternity). You might continue to experience fatigue, weakness, and a cough for another week after you recover.

Here are 12 tips to help you recover more quickly.

Your body needs time and energy to fight the flu virus, so your daily routine should be on the back burner.

You may be tempted to go grocery shopping or get ahead on laundry for the week, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Stay home from work or school, and put errands on hold until you feel better.

Staying home helps you recover and prevents the spread of the flu to other people in your community or workplace. The flu can be dangerous for older adults and small children, so you must avoid contact with others while you’re contagious and disinfect surfaces and personal items regularly.

One flu symptom is a high fever, which can lead to sweating. You might also be dealing with bouts of vomiting or diarrhea. Your body needs plenty of fluids to replace lost liquids and even more to fight off the infection.

Water is best, but you can also drink herbal teas or tea with honey. These can soothe your symptoms while keeping you hydrated. Two things you should always avoid, though, are alcohol and caffeine, which can be dehydrating.

Sleep is the best medicine for your body while fighting the flu. Watching TV curled up on the couch isn’t a bad idea, but you shouldn’t binge-watch your favorite Netflix show all night.

Go to bed earlier than usual and sleep in. You can also nap during the day to give your body more time to recover.

Rest and sleep also reduce your risk of serious flu complications, like pneumonia.

It can be difficult to sleep with a stuffy nose and cough. Try these tips to breathe easier and have a better night’s sleep:

  • Use an extra pillow to prop up your head and ease sinus pressure.
  • Sleep with a humidifier or vaporizer in the room.
  • Take a hot bath or shower before bed.

Your body needs better nutrition to recover from the flu.

Fresh fruits and vegetables provide important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that strengthen your immune system as it fights off the virus.

Although you might not have much of an appetite, eating regular meals is still important to maintain strength.

Dry air can exacerbate symptoms. A vaporizer or humidifier adds moisture to the air and can help loosen congestion.

There are many types of humidifiers and vaporizers available on the market. Examples include cool-mist humidifiers and steam vaporizers. These can be reasonably priced at your local big-box store, pharmacy, or online.

Your local drug store’s cold and flu aisle is most likely packed with hundreds of options. Some medications treat specific symptoms, like nasal congestion, while others treat many flu symptoms simultaneously.

  • Pain relievers help reduce fever, headache, and body aches. Examples include ibuprofen (Advil,
    Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Decongestants, like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), help open your nasal passages and relieve
    pressure in your sinuses.
  • Cough suppressants like dextromethorphan (Robitussin) can soothe a dry cough.
  • Expectorants help loosen thick mucus and are helpful for a wet cough that produces mucus.
  • Antihistamines tend to have sedative effects that may help you sleep.

Read the product’s label to learn the correct dose for each type of medication and ensure you’re not accidentally combining medications. Medications like DayQuil are both a pain reliever and a fever reducer, as well as a decongestant and cough suppressant. Avoid taking these combination medications with other OTC options.

DayQuil and similar cold medicines can also increase blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, something formulated for those with hypertension, like Coricidin HBP.

Children and teens should never take aspirin for the flu, as it can cause a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome.

If you take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, you may also want to avoid cough medicine containing dextromethorphan, as this combination can lead to serotonin syndrome.

Elderberry has been used for centuries to treat colds and the flu.

In one study, people with the flu who consumed elderberry found that it may reduce the duration and severity of colds.

Elderberry capsules, lozenges, and syrups are available in stores or online. Raw elderberries should not be eaten, as they can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Remember, elderberry is a complementary therapy, so make sure you’re also treating the flu with OTC or prescription medication.

Honey is a fairly common natural remedy for soothing a sore throat or cough. Mixing honey with tea is a great way to stay hydrated while treating flu symptoms.

In one older study, researchers found that a dose of honey was more effective at controlling a nighttime cough than common cough suppressants in children ages two to 18 years with upper respiratory tract infections.

One thing to note is that you shouldn’t give honey to children younger than a year old.

Antiviral drugs are only available by prescription, so you must see a doctor first.

These drugs prevent the virus from growing and replicating. They work best if taken within 48 hours of experiencing symptoms, so it’s best to reach out as soon as you start noticing symptoms.

The most commonly prescribed antiviral medication is oseltamivir (Tamiflu). In October 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza), a new antiviral for people ages 12 and older.

Taking antiviral medications within two days of the onset of symptoms may reduce the duration of the flu by about one day and the severity of symptoms.

The annual flu vaccine is produced based on scientists’ predictions of which flu strain will dominate the next flu season. Sometimes, though, they get it wrong. Getting a flu shot after you’ve already had the flu can protect you from other strains of the virus.

You might think it’s too late or you can’t get the flu again in one season, but it’s still possible. So, it’s a good idea to protect yourself by getting vaccinated.

We often forget how much our emotions and attitudes affect our physical feelings. While you may be unable to unclog your stuffy nose or lower your fever with positive thoughts, maintaining a positive attitude during your illness may help your overall recovery.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the flu recovery.

What is the quickest way to get rid of the flu?

The most important thing is giving your body time to rest, drinking lots of fluids, and eating healthy foods. When taken within the first 48 hours of symptom onset, antivirals can also reduce the duration and severity of illness.

What kills the flu virus in the body?

Antiviral medication can help kill the flu virus in the body.

Can you get rid of the flu in 2 days?

Symptoms of the flu usually peak in the first couple of days and subside within a week. Plenty of rest and fluids can help your body fight the virus faster. Antiviral medications can also reduce the duration of the flu by about a day.

The best thing you can do to recover from the flu is to allow yourself to sleep, rest, and drink lots of fluids. If you catch your flu symptoms early and you’re at risk of serious complications, you can try an antiviral medication to help reduce the duration of your symptoms.

Most flu symptoms resolve within one to two weeks. If your flu symptoms start to get better and then get rapidly worse or don’t subside after two weeks, contact your doctor.