Fighting flu fatigue: Steps to aid your flu recovery during and after the flu

Fighting flu fatigue: Steps to aid your flu recovery during and after the flu

The flu spreads all too easily from an infected person coughing or sneezing (1).  And if you do catch the flu, the symptoms can really knock you out. The fever, cough, sore throat, headache and aching muscles and joints leave you feeling unwell and exhausted (2). And even when our symptoms do resolve, we may continue to feel fatigued (3).

So, what should we expect during and after our bout of the flu? Let’s take a closer look at the different stages of the flu, and what steps you should take to continue to aid your recovery as the initial exhaustion turns to ‘flu fatigue’.

The first days of flu

With the flu, you’ll generally start to feel ill between one and four days (3) after you were first exposed to the virus. Symptoms will develop very quickly, and you will feel very unwell (4).

To aid your recovery, make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep, and keep warm (5). Ask your doctor for medicine to bring your temperature down and relieve your aches and pains (5)(6); you’ll feel more comfortable.

Eat something healthy if you can (4). But even if you don’t have an appetite, you need to drink plenty of liquids to replace the fluids lost from sweating (4); juice and water are a good idea but avoid alcohol (6).

We’re in an ‘at risk’ group for complications for the flu (1), so see a doctor. They may prescribe special anti-viral medicines, which work best if you start them within 48 hours of your flu symptoms starting (4). Our age means we may need medical attention earlier and quicker than others, especially if we have a long-standing illness (7).

Feeling at your worst

Symptoms should peak over the next couple of days. Continue to drink plenty of liquids to replace those lost from sweating and runny noses. Make sure you’re still getting lots of rest and eating healthily (4).

It is important not to smoke with the flu since it’s a respiratory illness. The flu can infect your lungs as well as your nasal passages – areas that are also bothered by smoking (6).

If your symptoms become more severe, or get better then get worse again, seek urgent medical advice (7).

From exhaustion to flu fatigue

You should begin to feel much better within a week or so, but your flu isn’t over yet. You’ve reached the stage flu fatigue, which may leave you feeling tired for some time (2).

Even when our symptoms do resolve, we may continue to feel worn out (3). The general tiredness and cough may last for two to three weeks, so continue to drink plenty of liquids and eat healthily (4).

If you like to keep fit, wait until your fever has subsided before exercising (8). You may be tempted to go straight back to your normal routine, but you’ll only wear yourself out. It's best to make your first workout back short and light, then gradually progress back over time (8).

Even if we feel very unwell, we must take good care of ourselves if we have the flu. Our age means we’re more at risk of a bad bout of the flu, so it’s important we take these simple steps to aid our recovery throughout the flu – from the exhaustion we feel in the initial stages to the flu fatigue we experience in the weeks after.


References
(1) https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/facts/key-messages
(2) https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/flu
(3) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-long-does-the-flu-last
(4) https://www.undertheweather.ie/ailment/flu
(5) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/
(6) https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/facts/questions-and-answers-seasonal-influenza
(7) https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/facts/questions-and-answers-seasonal-influenza
(8) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-long-should-i-wait-after-the-flu-before-resuming-exercise

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