Getting the flu shot is one of the most important things you can do for your health and for the health of the community. The flu vaccine is very safe and serious side effects are very rare. However, many people do suffer fleeting, less-serious side effects like a sore arm, body aches, and nasal congestion. Although these symptoms are mild, they can be annoying, and you may want to follow the tips below to help minimize and manage them.
Hold an ice pack over the injected area.
When you return to home or work after getting your flu shot, spend a few minutes holding an ice pack or a frozen bag of peas over the area. The soreness that sometimes occurs after the flu shot is largely due to inflammation, and the ice pack will help manage that inflammation before it gets too serious. If you do feel your arm getting sore later, you can apply the ice pack again.
Drink plenty of water.
Sip water throughout the day. This will keep you hydrated, which will help ease symptoms like nasal congestion and fatigue. Try to avoid caffeine as it is a diuretic and may contribute to dehydration, which could make your flu shot side effects worse.
Unless you have a health condition that makes it unsafe for you to take ibuprofen, taking a dose right after you get a flu shot can be really helpful. Ibuprofen will help ease the pain in your arm, and it will also help keep other inflammation-related side effects, including nasal stuffiness, at bay.
Take an antihistamine before bed.
Antihistamines like diphenhydramine are sold both as an allergy medication and an over-the-counter sleep aid. It can be helpful to take a dose before you go to bed the night of your flu vaccine. The antihistamine will help prevent a stuffy nose, and it will also help you get a better night's rest in spite of any stiffness and soreness you may be feeling in your arm. A good night's sleep will help your immune system process the flu vaccine and make the antibodies it needs.
While it may be tempting to kick back and rest on the couch after your flu shot, you are better off staying active. Walk around, do some light exercise, do some chores — this will all help keep inflammation and pain at bay.
Most flu shot side effects are mild and will go away on their own within a day or two, but with the tips above, you can manage them even more effectively. To learn more, visit a clinic that offers the flu shot vaccination.
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