If you think you have the flu, the first thing you should do is check your symptoms.  The flu virus can come on very quickly and you may just think you are run down at first until the later symptoms start to evolve.  Most cases of the flu are miserable, but manageable to recover from at home.  Only in rare cases of vulnerability do you need to seek medical assistance, but if you are ever concerned you should always seek medical advise by calling the NHS helpline on 111.  Alternately you can contact Boots pharmacy on 0845 459 2102 for advice on how to use their WebMD help and advice information on flu.  

Most important, is obtaining Anti-Viral treatments, such as Tamiflu, Relenza or Rapivab, within the first 48 hours of getting the flu.  You can buy these at your local Boots.  Given them a ring for more information.

1) Do I have the flu? Check your symptoms to see if you think you have the flu

It is highly likely that if you get the flu, the symptoms will come on very quickly and you will go from hero to zero overnight!

  • Fever of 38C or above
  • All your body will ache
  • No energy and feeling tired
  • Coughing, particularly after a few days
  • Sore throat from coughing and irritation
  • Headaches
  • Disturbed sleeping
  • Changes in appeal to food
  • Digestive problems or tummy ache
  • Sickness or feeling like you want to be sick
  • Possible ear ache or sinus issues

2) The difference between flu and a cold

It is usually very easy to determine the difference between a cold and the flu.

Flu Cold
Comes over you very quickly, within hours. Develops over a number of days, starting with a sniffle.
Makes your whole body ache. Primarily just effects your nose and throat.
Stops you in your tracks and makes it impossible to continue your daily tasks. Makes you feel poorly, but you can continue your work and daily tasks.

3) What are the stages of the flu?

During the first 24-48 of infection, you may not know you have the flu virus.  It is not until your body raises the alarm that the symptoms will hit you within hours.  This is due to your immune system response.  Your muscles contain white blood cells that help maintain and repair your muscles.  When an emergency is called by your immune system, it diverts the white blood cell tasks to killing the virus.  This first response leaves your body aching, your temperature will go up and you may get a headache, due to the dilated blood vessels, leading to pressure in your head.  Over the next week, your white blood cells will fight off the virus, leaving a green mucus in your nasal and throat.  After about 5 days you will slowly start to feel better, but you maybe left with a cough and a sore throat for about another week.  It will take about a further week for your white blood cells to reproduce and go back to their usual tasks.

Stages of the flu virus symptoms of flu and how to get rid of flu quickly

4) How long will this flu last?

The flu virus will rein havoc for at least seven days, even in a body with a health immune system.  The symptoms are usually worse for the first five days and it will start to ease off after day five if your body starts to attack the virus successfully.  Don’t be surprised though if you have the flu for up to two weeks, especially in children.

5) How long will I be contagious for if I have the flu?

You are contagious from about 24 to 72 hours after contracting the flu virus and will remain contagious until your body fights off the virus (usually about five days).  You suffer from the flu after the virus is no longer contagious, because your body is still dealing with the symptoms and after effects of having the flu.  However, children or people with a low immune system can take about ten to fourteen days to kill of the virus, so they will remain contagious much longer.

6) Is there a treatment for the flu?

There are treatments to ease the symptoms of the flu, but there is no cure for killing the virus completely.  If you believe you are at risk of flu complications due to pregnancy, young children, elderly people, lung diseases, heart disease, problems with your immune system or previous flu complications, then you should seek medical help.

Treatments to ease flu symptoms are:

  • Ease the symptoms (see point 6)
  • Antiviral treatments within 48 hours (can prevent the flu developing in mild cases)
  • Antiviral treatments after 48 hours (can reduce the duration by about a day)
  • Antibiotics – Do NOT treat the flu and should be avoided
  • Alternative and homeopathic flu treatments

7) What helps with the flu?

It is important to help your body fight the battle against the flu.  Think of your body as an army of resources.  It needs as many resources as possible to quickly kill the virus.

  1. Stop everything you are doing and rest – your body needs the white blood cells to fight the virus.
  2. Drink as much water as you possibly can – a rise in temperature will make your dehydrated.
  3. Drink hot fluids, especially chicken soup – this stops the proliferation of the virus.
  4. If you can stomach it, drink garlic tea – garlic is anti-bacterial (3 cloves of crushed garlic, hot water, honey and lemon).
  5. Avoid all alcohol, carbs & sugar – it hampers the immune system.
  6. Take natural remedies – such as Sambucol and Oregano Oil
  7. Ensure you have having enough Vitamin C – it helps protects your cells
  8. Homemade cough syrup – Cover a sliced red onion in raw honey overnight and have a tbsp or two every few hours.


8) What is the fastest way to get rid of the flu?

  • Flush your nasal passages with a salt water solution.  You can do this with a Neti Pot or a container.
  • Gargle salt water.  Put a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and gargle four times a day.
  • Sweat the fever.  Your body raises the temperature to kill the virus.
  • Blow your nose to remove mucus.  Do not inhale the mucus as this can cause sinus pressure.
  • Eat lots of garlic.
  • Stay at home, keep warm and most importantly rest!


9) Do I need the doctor with flu?

Do not go into the doctors with the flu.  Ring them and explain your difficulties and they will advise you what to do.  You can also call the NHS helpline on 111.  Most cases you do not need a GP or medical assistance for the flu.   However, if you are at risk of flu complications due to pregnancy, young children, elderly people, lung diseases, heart disease, problems with your immune system or previous flu complications, then you should seek medical help.

10) Can I prevent getting the flu?

Yes!  You can prevent the flu in a number of ways.  Flu is most contagious every year between October and May.  Flu is at its worse during February.

  • Ask your GP or pharmacy for a flu injection.
  • Don’t kiss people with the flu.
  • Wash your hands frequently in public or work areas.
  • Eat a nutritional rich diet.
  • Reduce as much stress as you can.
  • Get at least 7.5 hours sleep a night.
  • Exercise everyday for at least 30 minutes.