1. Ask about antivirals
If you are beginning to show flu symptoms, you can ask your doctor about prescription antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (sold as Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). Both work by blocking an enzyme that helps the virus infect new cells. These drugs are most effective if you take them within 48 hours of your first symptoms and can shorten your bout of flu by a day, although the risk of side-effects mean they will not always be prescribed. It is particularly important to request antivirals if you have a condition such as diabetes or heart disease that increases the risk of complications.
2. Get lots of sleep
Research has shown that getting plenty of sleep keeps the immune system healthy and is crucial to the bodyâ€™s ability to keep white blood cell counts high and battle infections. It can also help prevent you from getting flu in the first place, especially if you have had a flu jab, as the body will then be able to produce more antibodies to respond to the immunisation and protect you.
3. Watch what you drink and eat
Whether it is hot soup, water or fruit juice, many experts believe it is important to drink a minimum of eight 250ml cups of fluid a day during a bout of flu. Common flu symptoms such as sweating and runny noses increase the amount of water your body loses, so keeping up your fluid intake prevents dehydration. Drinking also relieves congestion, stopping mucus building up in your lungs, which could lead to pneumonia. Foods high in vitamin C, such as kiwifruit and green peppers, as well as those rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash, can help boost your immune system.
4. Keep warm and stay home
Staying warm when you first go down with flu helps the body preserve its energy for the immune battle. Experts recommend staying home from work and resting until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours to avoid passing on the virus. This can also reduce the risk of developing complications such as pneumonia.
5. Try NAC supplements
N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC) is a powerful antioxidant. Research has shown it can reduce both the duration and severity of flu by boosting immunity, reducing respiratory mucus and inhibiting the ability of the virus to replicate.