Flu Survival Guide: What works and what does not

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

You've probably had old wives tales passed down from family: feed a fever, starve a cold or maybe you're inhaling menthol all day.

Managing physician for immunizations Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, Melanie Mouzoon, said some are valid tips and others could be harming you worse than the virus itself!

“The chicken soup really is effective, garlic can be a little bit effective, but other types of advice are really bad,” Mouzoon said.

For example, a celebrity endorsement to sit in a sauna with the flu, is one Mouzoon says needs to be ignored.

“Any illness that gives you a high fever is giving you a fever to help kill off the virus… but if you add to the fever by going and sitting in the sauna or doing something to elevate your temperature further you can actually develop heat stroke from that or brain damage from causing your body heat to rise too high,” Mouzoon said.

Lying in bed is best. From there, some wives tales can come in handy!

“Menthol and eucalyptus that open your sinuses, those are really helpful,” she said. “It doesn't do anything to shorten the course but it does a little bit to alleviate the symptoms.”

There was also a study that found people who either took probiotics or ate yogurt had less severe symptoms, but Dr. Mouzoon said it was a small group of people participating, which may factor into the credibility.

However, the old advice to gargle saltwater, she confirms is coating your throat and will ease inflammation. That should help flush out germs, so salt solutions may also alleviate symptoms.

Alleviating symptoms is about all you can do. Which is why it's important to get an anti-viral within the first 48 hours of your fever, runny nose and achy joints!

“It will shorten the course of the flu, if you take it too late and you're already swarming with flu viruses, you're not going to have much benefit with that medicine,” Mouzoon said.

The flu shot might not be a guarantee to avoid all of this, but you can rest assured it's also weakening the virus to make this easier to endure.

“It takes about two weeks to become effective and this season's flu vaccine is a good match for circulating strains.”

Plus, it helps protect weakened immune systems around you,  like kids under two and adults over 65-years-old.

If you get the flu it takes a toll on your immune system. Dr. Mouzoon said, that weakens us for when the next thing comes along, often a sinus infection or pneumonia.

Dr. Mouzoon says if you start to recover from the flu and then suddenly you feel lousy again, get back into the doctor's office and make sure you don't have a secondary infection.

2016 Click2Houston/KPRC2