Symptoms of the Flu - Continued

By Michele C. Hollow @michelechollow
December 06, 2017

How long is the flu contagious?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the typical incubation period for the virus is from 1 day before symptoms of the flu occur and 5 to 7 days after that person is sick.

How to get rid of the flu

The best ways to avoid catching the flu are to stay away from sick people, wash your hands, and try your best to keep your hands away from your face. If you work in an office where you share a space with coworkers, disinfect all shared equipment such as telephones, computer keyboards, and desktops.

The CDC recommends getting a flu shot. Research shows the vaccine is most important for children 6 months to 59 months, adults ages 50 and older, people with chronic illnesses, people who live in nursing homes, healthcare workers, and people who are in frequent contact with elderly adults or the chronically ill.

What to eat when you have the flu

When you get the flu, you may have no appetite. You may have even heard the old saying, “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” You should never starve a fever. “The right nutrients can help your body fight off an illness,” said Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and adjunct senior scientist at the National Institute of Health. She suggests staying hydrated.

She advises drinking plenty of water and hot tea, especially ginger tea, which reduces inflammation and calms an upset stomach. Hot vegetable and chicken broth are also soothing and easy to digest.

If you’re appetite has returned, she says yogurt drinks like kefir are good because they’re loaded with probiotics. “Kefir is really easy on the stomach and at the same time helps replenish helpful bacteria in the gut,” she said.

Fresh fruits and almonds are good to snack on. Both are tasty and packed with vitamins. You also need protein. However, many people with the flu can’t stomach protein. If you feel hungry, start by eating a simple scrambled egg. It’s light and loaded with protein.

If you have diarrhea, you may want to eat bananas, rice, applesauce, or plain toast. They are bland but easy to digest and help control diarrhea. “It’s called the BRAT diet, an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast,” said Lena Beal, MS, RD, LD, a therapeutic dietitian at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital’s Fuqua Heart Center. “Historically, it was used in pediatrics when kids got sick and couldn’t tolerate anything. But this diet is helpful for anyone who has nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.”


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March 20, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN