Did you know the common cold is not the same as the flu? Both are viral infections and share a handful of symptoms including sneezing, coughing and a sore throat. However, unlike a cold which will usually clear up in 7-10 days without treatment, the flu (also known as Influenza) can quickly turn into something more serious, like pneumonia or bronchitis which may require a visit to hospital.
Symptoms of the flu can hit very quickly and may last for several weeks, so it’s important to see a doctor if you experience a high fever or chills, body aches, or feel extremely weak and tired. When recovering at home, simple yet effective lifestyle measures are essential to get you back to your best.
Useful tips for flu recovery
The flu can make you feel weak and tired until your temperature returns to normal. Plenty of sleep and rest in-between will help to alleviate your fatigue and allow your body to use its energy to fight the infection. Prop yourself up in bed with some extra pillows to ease congestion or settle in on the couch with a good book or movie.
Nourish your body
Eat regular, light meals or snacks throughout the day until your appetite returns to normal. To optimise the function of your immune system and strengthen the infection-fighting capability of your cells, stay adequately hydrated and eat a wide variety of nutrient dense foods including lots of veggies and some fruit.
Set a reminder
Set an alert using your mobile phone or alarm clock to remind you when it’s time to take your medication each day. Even if you are feeling much better, it’s important to still complete your full course of medication as directed by your doctor.
Treat your symptoms
Simple pain-relieving medication can provide relief from the milder symptoms of the flu. Paracetamol can help to manage fever and relieve muscle aches, lozenges can ease a sore throat, and saline drops or spray can help to clear nasal congestion. Remember to always consult your doctor before taking any new medication.
Move your body
After receiving the all clear from your doctor, slowly reintroduce some gentle movement back into your daily routine. A short walk around the block or light weights are a good way to start. Regular exercise improves your general wellbeing and helps prevent injury. Talk to your GP for advice on activity that will best suit your condition.
Lean on your support network to lend a hand around the house or help run errands while you’re on the mend. Plan to catch up with family and friends when you’re fully recovered and keep a regular schedule of contact throughout each week. For any medical concerns or advice, get in touch with your GP or the 24/7 Medibank Nurse phone service.
Recovering after the flu puts you in hospital
If the flu puts you in hospital, it can be a very stressful and disruptive time, so it’s important to have the right support and advice to help you return to normal life. For some people, recovery will be slow and gradual, while others will be fighting fit within a short time. Everyone is different, and that’s okay. Creating a recovery plan for your return home can help to reduce extra stress and allow you to focus your time and energy on the most important thing — getting better!
Make a plan
Your first step: Create a hospital discharge plan with your health care professional. This can include:
- The proposed day and time you will be returning home,
- Your expected recovery and how long it should take,
- Your living arrangements (for example, if you live alone, whether someone can be there to help, what services you currently receive, and if you have caring commitments of your own),
- Any possible restrictions on your activities, such as avoiding certain exercises,
- Any extra aids or services you might need at home, such as a prescription or walking stick.
Your discharge plan should be shared with your GP and any new healthcare professionals you see during the recovery process.
Use your time with your health care professional to ask lots of questions. When you’re not feeling well, trying to remember medication names, advice, or instructions can be overwhelming, so jotting down some notes can help to jog your memory when you get home.
Organise a check-up
While in hospital, schedule a follow up appointment with your doctor to monitor the progress of your recovery and general wellbeing. Some people may need extra treatment after their hospital stay including physiotherapy to help clear their lungs or an extra course of medication. Your doctor will be able to advise you on this.
Collect your medication
Fill your prescription while at the hospital or stop in at the pharmacy on your way home. Familiarise yourself with the name of your medication and any special instructions including how often you will need to take it, for how long, with food or without, and if there are any possible side effects that you need to keep an eye out for.
Help at hand
Keep the contact details of your GP, pharmacy, and our 24/7 Medibank Nurse phone service saved in your phone contacts or on the front of the fridge, so they are close at hand for any questions you may have about your symptoms or medication.
Know the signs
Listen to your body and know what warning signs to look out for in the case that you may need to return to hospital. Go straight to your local GP or the nearest hospital’s emergency department if you have trouble breathing, a high fever, or if any of your symptoms get worse after returning home.
Share the load
Update your family and friends about your condition and let them know how they can make life a bit easier for you during your recovery. Dropping off a home cooked meal for the freezer, assisting with tasks around the house, or arranging a lift to and from your doctor’s appointment are examples of how you can get extra support from the people who care about you most.