• Infectious Diseases

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Managing respiratory illness at home

The influenza season may have peaked, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is far from over. If you or a family member has the flu or other respiratory infection, Dr. Tina Ardon, a Mayo Clinic family medicine physician, says there are ways to manage most respiratory infection symptoms at home.

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"Most upper respiratory infections can be managed at home," says Dr. Ardon.

That can start by staying hydrated, which is important part of the body's recovery process.

"If we are feeling sick and we're not drinking enough — maybe we have a high fever or throwing up, we have diarrhea — we are at risk of dehydration. And that may need more urgent evaluation, perhaps in the ER settings," says Dr. Ardon. 

Cough is a very common symptom of upper respiratory infections and is usually the last symptom to leave. When it comes to cough, time is the best treatment.

"For the most part, cough will resolve on its own, but some patients may benefit from using things like honey at home as long as you're over the age of 1."

She says if a cough lasts more than two weeks, that's when you should contact your healthcare team.

The other thing you can do for your body when you're sick can sometimes be the hardest.

"Take the time to rest. That's one way to help your body recover faster," says Dr. Ardon. "I often find people have a hard time turning things off to be able to rest and recover. So that really is probably key for most patients to recover fastest."