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What to do if you have the flu

What to Do If You Have the Flu

February 22, 2020

Influenza - more commonly known as the flu - is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Each year in the United States, influenza-related deaths are reported more than 100,000 hospitalizations due to influenza. Older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions are at higher risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated every year.

Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through direct contact with respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes. If you are within 3 to 6 feet of a person with the flu when they cough or sneeze, you can breathe in the virus. It's also possible to become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching your mouth or nose. Some viruses and bacteria can live for some time on items you touch - like tables, doorknobs, and desks.

Signs and Symptoms of the Flu

Influenza usually starts suddenly and may include the following symptoms, which can last from three to 10 days:

  • Fever (over 100-degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache and body aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

What to Do if You Have the Flu

If you do have the flu, here are some steps you can take to manage your symptoms and get better as quickly as possible:

  • Drink fluids. It's crucial that you stay hydrated so that your body doesn't undergo any additional stress while fighting the virus. Drink plenty of water, broth, and/or sports drinks.
  • Consider over-the-counter medication. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, cough syrup, and decongestant may help bring down your fever, ease muscle aches, and soothe a sore throat. It's important to talk to a Kelsey-Seybold nurse or doctor about which medicine is right for you and follow dosage instructions carefully.
  • Ask about prescription medication. Your primary care or Family Medicine physician may prescribe an antiviral medication like Tamiflu to lessen your symptoms, but these medications are typically only effective if taken with the first two days of the appearance of symptoms.
  • Rest. Your body needs more rest than usual to heal and recover.

To avoid spreading the flu, Kelsey-Seybold physicians recommend you stay at home while sick, except to get necessary medical care. Avoid work, school, and public places for at least 24 hours after your fever has completely disappeared.

If you are a member of a high-risk group or are severely ill, seek medical attention quickly. Schedule an appointment at any Kelsey-Seybold location by calling our 24/7 Contact Center at 713-442-0000.

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